Dream interpretation has been a significant part of human life for thousands of years. Ancient societies in Egypt and Greece considered the dream world a divine place where supernatural powers and messages could be transmitted to mortals from worlds away.
Modern day psychological and neurobiological research have pointed to several different theories about why we dream and what our dreams mean. At the turn of the 20th Century, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud published a significant book on the topic, aptly named, The Interpretation of Dreams.
The Freudian model of dream analysis deals with the theme of “wish fulfilment”. Essentially, the theory claims that all dreams are a series of images and symbols presented by the subconscious mind. The themes, emotions and feelings attributed to the dream are all meant to give the dreamer insight into solving a problem, facing a past stress or, to point out hidden desires and needs that are not being fulfilled during waking life.
With a little bit of practice, we can all become master dream interpreters. Keeping a journal of your dreams will help you to map out patterns and recurring themes. We’ve all had some pretty intense dreams at one point or another, this guide should help you to interpret them! Here are the 19 Messed Up Dreams (We’ve All Had) And What They Mean.
19. Dreams of Destroying Someone
Although dreaming about killing someone does not indicate that you have homicidal tendencies, you might want to take a look at anything that has caused you significant anger recently. Are there any people that have upset you? Have you gotten into any fights with friends or family members? Any dream that deals with killing or death denotes that something needs to be eliminated. That can mean several things, however, and is up to the dreamer to decode. If you are generally at peace with everyone in your life, perhaps the significance is more internal. Do you have a habit, trait or feeling that is not serving you? Would you benefit from eliminating something from your life that is causing you pain, stress or unhappiness? A little introspective thought can usually shed a lot of light on what your subconscious is trying to tell you!
Dreams of dying are among the most common, and, the good news it, these dreams to not signify that your death is imminent! Generally speaking, dreams of death occur when we are under significant stress in our waking life. Perhaps a situation or phase, perhaps a relationship, needs to “die” or be eliminated from your life. It could also be pointing to negative emotions or feelings that are not serving you, and need to be purified. These dreams can leave us feeling really out of sorts and shaky, but they are simply meant to bring out attention to things that are not serving our highest good. Perhaps it’s time to take stock of the things that are going on in your life, and see where you can make some shifts that will leave you feeling more positive and happy.
17. Dreams of Knives
Knives in dreams represent some sort of aggression or anger, or, an unavoidable separation. As knives are used to cut, consider what person, habit or trait needs to be cut out of your life. If you are dreaming that someone else is holding a knife, that can signify that you have lost control over a certain aspect of your life. The aggressive, animalistic side of you is waking up and wants to fight for your happiness. What are the things that need to be changed in your life? Are there any people that make you feel particularly out of control when you are in their presence? Answering these questions will give you a better idea of what the dream is meant to tell you. Then, you can take appropriate steps to free yourself of the burdens that are causing you nighttime distress!
16. Dreams of An Animal Attacking You
Dreams of animal attacks can be extremely frightening, and are often cautionary messages that you need to be careful with the people around you. These dreams are really common in times of conflict with friends or family, perhaps the attacking animal represents an angry person who is “out to get you”. It could be that there is someone who has recently entered your life who is not good for you, but your conscious mind is not picking up on the signals. This is a good time to take a look at all of the key players in your life. Who do you have underlying tension with? Are there any points of conflict that have surfaced lately? Who do you need to confront about your feelings? Sometimes just addressing the problems that we keep inside will help relieve us of the added weight and stress we carry around.
15. Dreams of Drowning
A dream of drowning denotes that you are absolutely overwhelmed by your emotions. Has something happened recently that has caused you to feel like you are drowning in sorrow, pain or fear? Buried or unconscious feelings and emotions might also be coming to the surface in your waking life, and are perhaps causing you too feel out of control. This is a good time to take stock of your emotional well-being, and to go easy on yourself. A situation in your life might be causing you to feel completely stuck and unable to breathe; this needs your immediate attention and action. If you are rescued from drowning in the dream, it signifies that you are making progress with your emotions and starting to acknowledge what is weighing you down in your waking life.
14. Dreams of Flying
Dreams of flying are very common among children, but can continue into adulthood. These dreams are often accompanied with a feeling of freedom and liberty, and they signify both, in fact. Usually, these dreams indicate that you are in total control of your life path and destiny, and that you are not feeling restricted or stuck in your waking life. The liberation you feel might be in the aftermath of a big life change. Maybe you recently went through a break-up or job change that released a lot of stress, and has caused you to feel greater freedom in your life. Flying dreams indicate that we are able to reach our goals, with complete confidence and trust that all will work out well. You are in a great place and this dream is celebrating the liberation and freedom that is yours.
13. Dreams of Teeth Falling Out
Dreams of your teeth rotting, crumbling or literally falling out of your mouth are extremely common. This type of dream is usually related to some sort of waking anxiety. Depending on what is going on in your life, it can signify anything from a fear of aging, to lack of self-confidence and fear of abandonment in a relationship. The overall significance of these dreams is that we feel powerless over a situation, and possibly feel like someone or something is exerting control over us. This is a good time to work on your personal boundaries. Where are you feeling afraid to speak up, defend your position or make a change in your life? Make a list of the aspects of your life that leave you feeling out of control, and analyze where the root of the problem is.
12. Dreams of Infidelity
Dreams of being cheated on by one’s partner are extremely common, and usually point out a waking fear of abandonment that is present in your life. Attachment issues and low self worth can cause us to harbour negative thoughts and ideas that a partner will be unfaithful; in the dream world, these fears are worked through in a safe zone so that your attention can be brought to them when you are awake. Sometimes, dreams of a partner cheating (or of you cheating on your partner) are a way of pointing out that your relationship is not fulfilling all of your needs, and perhaps you crave an escape. Depending on your relationship status, these dreams can cause anxiety, or relief and excitement. This is a time for you to analyze what is going on in your most intimate union.
11. Dreams of Falling
A dream of falling can be quite intense, as the dreamer often feels butterflies in their stomach and sometimes wakes up before hitting the ground in the dream. The jerky movement is actually related to a physiological reaction; when you are falling into a deep sleep, your heart rate and blood pressure drop, in order to get you into a very relaxed state and ready for REM sleep. A sudden shock to the body or mind (ie: the falling in your dream) can alert your body to wake up. The meaning behind a falling dream is also one of losing control or feeling like you have failed at something. Alternately, it can indicate that you are engaging in some form of self-destruction, and caution is advised. Take this dream as a bit of a warning of sorts, you might need to adjust your attitude or habits.
10. Dreams of Not Being Able To Speak/Move
A dream where you feel unable to move or speak can feel terrifying. In certain cases, the dream actually falls into a category of sleep paralysis or night terrors that leave the dreamer feeling absolutely shaken. The prevalence of night terrors is low; less than 6% of children and only about 1% of adults will suffer regular occurrences. But for those who have experienced this, it is really not fun. Usually, the dreamer feels like they are awake, eyes wide open and looking around their bedroom. Sometimes a dark figure or overwhelmingly bad feeling “enters” the room and causes the dreamer to feel total terror. A feeling of trying to force yourself awake to escape the terror is very common. It’s basically like A Nightmare on Elm Street, but with less action. The good news? These episodes aren’t actually dangerous and doctors think that they occur when people are stressed or overly exhausted (for example, if you’ve skipped a night of sleep)
9. Dreams of Being Naked In Public
Dreams of being naked in public, or naked in the workplace, usually signify a fear of judgement or a fear of being “caught” doing something you shouldn’t be doing. These dreams can strike when you are engaging in some sort of taboo or illicit behaviour or activity. Are you hiding something that you are afraid people might find out about? Alternately, it can signify a fear of being rejected by others. Nudity can represent our natural, true selves, and we might fear that we won’t be liked if people knew “the real us”. These dreams point out that we need to review what is causing us anxiety or fear in the waking world, and how we can adapt our behaviour and habits to feel more at ease.
8. Dreams of Missing a Plane/Train/Boat
A dream that you have missed your flight, train or bus often point to feelings of helplessness. A waking situation might have made you feel as if you are trapped or unable to escape an unfavorable outcome. This could also point to feelings of being held back or unable to move towards a goal. Perhaps you are having financial troubles that are preventing you from buying a new home, or you feel trapped in a loveless relationship. The main focus when you’ve had these dreams should be on change. What is keeping you feeling stagnant and unable to make progress? Do you need to re-evaluate your relationship, position at work or overall life plan? A little overview of what’s going on can help you to release the blocks that are holding you back from your true potential.
7. Dreams of Having A Baby
Dreams of having a baby are more common among pregnant woman, but you can definitely have these dreams even if you are not expecting. The dream can be representative of the birth of a new idea or chapter in your life. This dream can indicate new beginnings and rebirth, which is usually a positive symbol. Alternately, the dream could be calling attention to the fact that your inner child needs some attention. Is there an issue from your childhood that you have not properly dealt with? Sometimes we bury traumatic or upsetting events in order to not have to think about them, but they can resurface in our dream or subconscious life until they are properly dealt with. This is a good time to take stock of any such events that might be lingering.
6. Dreams of Screaming At Someone
Dreams that you are screaming at someone are filled with emotion, usually anger, fear or frustration. These dreams can happen in the aftermath of a bad fight, or, alternately, if you feel like you have not spoken your truth in a situation. The underlying theme is that you are struggling with communicating your feelings or emotions in a productive way. It could be that your anger is getting the best of you, and you feel like you need to scream to let out the trapped feelings. Addressing the things that are happening in your waking life is necessary in order to balance your emotions. Do you need to have a conversation with someone and let out your feelings? Doing so in a non-confrontational, calm manner will usually have the best results. Speak your truth in a way that is not going to aggravate and exacerbate the situation.
5. Dreams of Being Trapped
A dream of being trapped signifies a waking stagnancy in one aspect of your life. This could mean that you are working a job that you hate, that your relationship is not fulfilling, or that you are not feeling inspired by your day to day routine. The feelings of being stuck in a rut and unable to advance are quite common in the dream world, and aim to point us towards liberating ourselves from redundant tasks. You might need to switch up your routine or change a pattern or relationship that is not bringing you closer to your goals. The good news is that dreaming of being trapped usually indicates that you are finally accepting that change needs to come. You need to take action and do some spring cleaning of habits, people or routines that are causing you the negative feelings.
4. Dreams of Snakes
With the exception of snake enthusiasts, most people are very uncomfortable around the slithery creatures. A snake dream signifies a fear or worry that make you feel threatened in your waking life. These dreams can also represent the wisdom and transformative element that is linked with snakes. Depending on the feelings present in the dream, this can be a positive self-transformative dream, a warning, or a dream that points out some hidden and unfulfilled desires. We are know that snakes are metaphorically linked to certain male body parts, so perhaps this can be a dream that has more to do with your sensuality and physical relationships with yourself and others. It’s a good time to review your love life, your relationships and your overall feelings to get the best read on your dream.
3. Dreams of An Ex-Partner
In order to determine what the meaning of this dream is, you must first reflect on what kind of character your ex in question had. If it is a partner that brought positivity and happiness into your life, the dream might be a sign that you need more of that in your life. Subsequently, a negative experience with an ex-partner who appears in your dream might point out that you still have unresolved anxiety about the relationship, or that you are feeling similar ways in your waking life as you did in the past. Sometimes you dream about an ex-partner who you no longer have contact with, in order for your subconscious to make peace with the fact that you didn’t get full closure in waking life. The dreams meaning all depends on what feelings and emotions come to light during the dream.
2. Dreams of A House Being on Fire
Jungian and Freudian dream theory often compare the symbolism of the home to the person’s psyche or soul. The different rooms represent different parts of the persons personality, life or emotions. To dream that a home is on fire can reference feelings of passion, destruction, rebirth or renewal. Depending on the circumstances in your waking life, and the feelings present in the dream, you could be facing a period of life where you are undergoing a big transformation. This can be any big life event, marriage, having a child, divorce or moving out of your parents home. Dreaming of your family home, if you have not lived in it for a long time, can point to some unresolved feelings of the past. Pay attention to what room is burning, or where you are in the dream. Did something happen here? Is there a message from your childhood trying to come through?
1. Dreams of A Car/Plane Crash
Dreams of car accidents or plane crashes can be particularly upsetting for the dreamer. Often, our emotional state is at the core of these unsettling dreams. Fears or anxieties might be deep-rooted and coming to light in the safety of the dream world to help you cope. It might be time to get a hold of the things that scare you, and are possibly causing you emotional distress. Alternately, this can be a foreboding dream that you need to slow down. Perhaps the path you are going down is destructive or unproductive to your well-being. If you continue this way, you might be heading towards danger or trouble (hence the symbolism of the accident). This doesn’t mean that you will literally be in an accident, but it might be a good idea to review whether or not your path is bringing you to green pastures.