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30 Common Dreams and What They Mean

Animals

Animals

Animals can symbolize habits. If you are gleefully playing with a basket of puppies, you are likely satisfied with your daily routine. However, if a big bad wolf is chasing you, there may be some destructive habits you need to work on. Depending on what the animals are doing, it could also mean different things.

Animals can also symbolize an untamed part of yourself, and fighting with an animal could mean that you're rejecting a part of yourself that needs to be dealt with. If you're trying to save the animal, then the dream could mean you feel inadequate in some way or you feel overwhelmed. 

Recurring Dream

Recurring Dream

If you keep having the same dream over and over again, it is a sign that something is nagging your subconscious. It's time to give your subconscious and brain a listen! Specific aspects of your recurring dream may be important, especially if there's some recent stress in your life that you think isn't affecting you. 

However, other times, it could just be your brain shouting, "Hey you! Pay attention!" And most of the time, it's worth your while to try and decipher what your subconscious is trying to tell you—figure out what’s bothering you before it gets so bad that your dreams become a reality!

Embarrassing Yourself

Embarrassing Yourself

Some of the worst dreams are the ones that aren’t exactly nightmares but leave you feeling embarrassed when you wake up. We're talking about the dreams that remind you of something from the past or ones where you make a total fool of yourself. No one likes those dreams, right?

This type of dream could signify stress or unhappiness. It could also signify feelings of disappointment or failure, a lack of self-confidence, or insecurities you have about work, school, or another aspect of your life. If it happens time and time again, it's time to approach the issue head-on for a better night's rest. 

Seeing People You Know

Seeing People You Know

It’s perfectly normal to find friends and family in your dreams, but it can be confusing when you stumble upon an acquaintance. This may mean that someone made an impression on you and could become important to you in the future. Dreams are funny things. Apparently, those who study dreams have found a few things out. 

Experts have found that if you see someone in your dream, you've seen the face at some point in your life. It could be a well-known celebrity you watch all the time, loved ones that have passed on, or your siblings. Maybe seeing the person in your dream means you've seen too much of them on TV or you're thinking about them!

Intimacy

Intimacy

Strangely enough, a romantic encounter in your dream isn’t as straightforward as it seems. If you’re dreaming about intimacy, you could actually want a psychological connection with someone, and it's not necessarily about the person in the dream either. You may feel uneasy if your ex pops up during R&R, but don't freak out!

Déjà vu

Déjà vu

Have you ever had a dream where you’re sitting on your front porch and a bird lands next to you at the same time a car drives by, then you actually experience that in real life? if this happens to you, then it could mean that you are worried about the future. 

These types of experiences can feel incredibly meta, even creepy at times. Most of the time, however, déjà vu is the result of coincidence, your brain duplicating something that happened in real life into a dream, or making misremembering the way events actually played out in your past. Overall, it's just our brains trying their best to make connections even when memories aren't entirely reliable!

 

Losing Your Teeth

Losing Your Teeth

One unusual but common dream that people have is losing their teeth. More likely than not, either you've had this dream before or know someone who's talked about this dream. This dream is our subconscious brain's way of pointing out our fears in hopes that our conscious brain will take steps to overcome them.

The rotting and decay of teeth in your dreams suggest that you have deep-seated fears that you're ignoring. By realizing these fears, you can chip away at these negative feelings so that they eventually fall away and stop weighing you down. However, this dream can also point to feelings of powerlessness, inferiority, or poor self-esteem caused by negative interactions and struggling relationships.

Falling

Falling

Some researchers claim that falling is a huge red flag from your subconscious mind. Spiritually and mentally, it means that you’re having a major life problem. This could involve work, relationships, or anywhere in your life. It usually comes because you feel as though things are out of control somewhere in your waking life.

Many people have experienced a time when they're nearly fast asleep and entering REM sleep, then suddenly jolting awake. It usually feels like we're falling out of or even through our beds! This phenomenon is less associated with spirituality and more with biology. When the brain is in REM sleep, it becomes aware of the motionless body and can try to rouse us from this vulnerable state by jolting us awake with dreams of falling.

Loved Ones Suffering

Loved Ones Suffering

It can be the worst feeling in the world to wake up from a dream where you were forced to witness the suffering of a loved one. Like, that's basically the brain deciding to torture itself, which should not be a real thing! Nobody wants to have these dreams, much less analyze them, but they can reveal important things about your life. 

In some cases, the dream indicates that you are feeling some guilt when it comes to your relationship with the person suffering in the dream. If you're the one causing the suffering, that's doubly indicative of lingering guilt.  If the victim is complete stranger, however, your brain is probably trying to premeditate this guilt by warning against interfering with someone else's life.

Winning the Lottery

Winning the Lottery

Who doesn't dream about winning the lottery? Of course, staring out the window at imaginary piles of cash isn't a dream, per see, but conscious fantasies born from a desire for wealth and a life of ease. But what does hitting the jackpot mean when you're unconscious? These types of dreams can reveal your heart’s deepest desires.

Whether you want to be rich or travel the world, your brain can translate this desire into a dream about winning the Mega Millions! This is great! Because once you know your dreams, you can chase them! The unfortunate thing about dreams is that they usually don't hand you the answers on a silver platter. It hints at what you're missing and you're left to fill in the breaks.

Your Partner Cheating

Your Partner Cheating

Next to nightmares about suffering loved ones, nothing is worse than dreaming about your partner cheating. It feels like they pop up out of nowhere just to ruin your day! You wake up mad or sad without much evidence for feeling that way. Turns out, it may be for a reason. 

 A dream like this notes a lack of trust in your relationship. Thankfully, nightmares aren't a precursor to anyone actually being unfaithful. It's important to remember that even if you know your partner isn't outright cheating, you can still feel wary about their intentions due to trauma in your past or if you lack boundaries in the relationship.

Water

Water

Water-related dreams can be pretty scary. You may be lost somewhere in the middle of the ocean, or maybe you’re drowning. Why can't we dream about relaxing on the beach every once in a while? At least we know that our brains are just trying to protect us, but drowning dreams are traumatic in themselves!

Dreams about drowning are quite common and signal that you're overwhelmed by something in everyday life. From anxiety to work to school, it really could be anything. Like how the water buries you, whatever you're stressed out by is basically suffocating you! Less extreme images of water, such as rain or a river, can symbolize deep or confusing emotions as well as emotional healing. 

 

Doing Horrible Things

Doing Horrible Things

Some people have dreams where they commit a crime. In fact, they're not uncommon. You've probably had a dream where you broke into the mall and had the cops chase you down the street action-movie style. But you try to ignore this unsettling dream, a whole host of other dream-crimes boil to the surface. 

If you notice that you're having the same crime-related dream over and over again, or you're having dreams featuring an array of crimes, it could mean that there’s a problem inside yourself that you need to address before you have a meltdown. You can't run away from your problems, mainly because your brain will keep reminding you of them no matter when or where!

Passing On

Passing On

Death cropping up in your dream may be tied to seeing people you know suffering, but it's not completely the same. Suffering usually hints at shame you've buried deep in your soul, but death tends to reveal your feelings about yourself, not necessarily about others, including the one passing on.

If someone dies in your dream, it can symbolize a part of you changing. While in the dream, determining how this person passed away can help you come to terms with if the change in yourself is welcomed or forced upon you. Depending on your self-esteem, you can choose to resist this change or embrace it, and your brain's trying to nudge you in the right direction.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy

Because we've already touched on suffering and death, let's shift our attention to the more positive side of the spectrum: birth. Bringing a new life into the world via pregnancy is the complete opposite of death in the physical world, yet it holds a similar meaning different in our subconscious mind. 

Sure, dreaming about pregnancy can be a sign that you may want to become a parent, but it could mean something more. It also means that you’re looking for a creative project or something new to do in your life. In other words, you want to enact positive change in your life by pursuing new (and existing) passions! 

Flying

Flying

Flying in a dream is extremely freeing – unlike many of the others on this list. Meaning that it has positive interpretations across the board! Your dream could be encouraging you to let go of issues and let things fall into place que sera, sera style. That’s a dream we can get on board with!

Flying is inherently freeing. There aren't any stop signs or roadblocks (literally) to get in your way. Because these dreams are so fun, it's easy to deduce their meaning. On top of letting go, it points to feelings of fulfillment, happiness, boosted self-esteem, and hope for the future. 

Quitting Your Job

Quitting Your Job

Dreams of quitting your job are quite literal, especially if you're already spending hours at work daydreaming about quitting. These dreams clarify your existing feelings about work and indicate that you’re ready to move on and find something new. There could be several reasons behind this dream but the primary meaning is clear.

As for more spiritual interpretations, quitting your job accounts for feelings that you'll embark on a journey soon. Not everyone who dreams about leaving their job means that they hate it and want to quit. Instead, your brain's trying to hint at things outside of work that you don't want to invest in anymore, including relationships. 

Celebrities

Celebrities

Did you finally meet a celebrity only to find yourself waking up without your phone in your hand for a selfie? Well, you’re the culprit of another cryptic message sent directly from your own mind. Obviously, if you’ve been binging a certain music or movie star, they could show up in your dream for this reason. 

But what else? Others believe that it could mean something deeper... Surprise, surprise. For instance, you might have experienced lowered self-esteem that triggers the ego into comfort-ode. Similarly, it means that you may not feel recognized or appreciated in life. From work-related pitfalls to struggling relationships at home, meeting a celebrity or two in your dream is a great way to self-soothe. At least it feels real in the moment!

(Image via Pinterest)

Your Car

Your Car

Some people find themselves driving their own car in their dreams, and this can tell you about the state of your physical health. If your car is in pristine condition, you’re probably physically and mentally fit. But if you find that your car is run down, it may be time to schedule that annual checkup you've been putting off.

Similarly, cars are a reflection of ourselves in more ways than the physical. The condition of the car in your dream is telling of your health, but what the car actually does is symbolic of you're individual life journey. Sometimes it foreshadows what's to come based on your memories and current experiences. Perhaps you feel stagnant, so the car is stationary. But if the car's moving, then things are chugging along well!

Reconciling With People

Reconciling With People

You may have a dream where you find yourself making peace with people you’ve had disagreements with. From ex-partners to old friends that you simply lost touch with, these dreams can signal that you feel bad about how things ended and some part of you wants to repair the relationship. 

In other ways, this dream symbolizes more than an apparent desire to meet up with someone again. For instance, you can dream about reconciling with an ex that you know you don't ever want to see again. In this case, the dream symbolizes joy and the realization that there's no point in holding onto past arguments when you'd rather just move on. 

Food

Food

Maybe you just went to bed hungry, but that dream you had last night about Gordon Ramsey-worthy mac and cheese could mean something deeper. In most cultures, food symbolizes energy, knowledge, or nourishment. So, when you dream about food, you could be longing for more knowledge or insights about... something.

The thing is, our physical bodies understand our minds more than we give them credit for. It's easy to assume that our bodies are merely vessels for the mind, but the brain is just as physical as our hands and our toes. By making us dream about food, the physical body is trying to get the mind to realize what it needs and wants. 

Being Chased

Being Chased

Kind of like those dreams about committing crimes, you may have some insecurities or something big that you're ignoring if you find yourself dreaming about being chased. You could be worried about what people think about you at work, how people will react to new developments in your life, or anything else that gives you anxiety.

It's up to each individual person to truly decide what their chase dream is about, and that usually takes more than a few minutes worth of introspection to figure out. Consider journaling your emotions, talking to a trusted friend, or seeking out therapy to unpack these complex emotions. It can be tough to come to terms with change when that's the last thing you want! 

Test Taking

Test Taking

Nothing is more stressful than taking a test (especially one you haven't prepared in advance for), and dreaming about taking a test is even worse (which is a test you definitely didn't study for). Perfectionists may have this dream quite a bit because it reminds the dreamer to stay alert.

Others believe that these dreams mean you’re under a lot of pressure, something which isn’t uncommon if someone is in school. This dream could also come from someone who has recently graduated yet continues to experience lingering feelings of stress. Plus, new graduates have a lot of decisions to make that determine the course of their entire future. Now that's pressure!

Achieving a Goal

Achieving a Goal

You may find yourself dreaming about making a huge scientific discovery when you’re only a lowly, undergraduate research assistant. This kind of dream can serve as an inspiration for you and may even show you the steps you need to take to make that dream come true in real life!

Most of the time, these dreams are a celebration of reaching either a spiritual goal or a real goal in your life. While others serve as motivation to keep chasing your dreams, other interpretations aren't as positive. Sometimes the dream wants you to raise your standards a bit and be more ambitious, while other times it's trying to temper the ego by telling you your goals aren't feasible. 

Being Late

Being Late

"You’re late, you’re late for a very important date!" Wonderland's White Rabbit, aside, being late can cause some to panic. If you're a people pleaser, showing up late is cause for serious anxiety. But for the laid-back people among us, being late is normal and nothing to freak out about.

From taking on too many responsibilities or dealing with other people's problems all the time, this dream could mean that you've been feeling overwhelmed more often than not in recent months. Lateness in a dream could also mean you feel as though you’re making promises that you know you can’t keep.

Being Trapped

Being Trapped

Imagine that you are sitting in a room without any doors or windows (unless you're claustrophobic, then you can set this exercise out). Obviously, anyone would feel uncomfortable sitting alone in this type of room because it's pretty obvious that you're physically trapped with no way out. This points to mental blockades as well. 

Here, your brain is trying to tell you that you may need a fresh approach to your life, or some kind of change in order to feel like yourself again. If you can’t switch up something major, it wouldn’t hurt to go on holiday for a bit or even just take an afternoon to relax under the sun. 

Demons

Demons

Lions and tigers and... demons? Oh my! If you’re having dreams about these hellish creatures, whether you’re the victim or not, it could mean that you secretly feel as though you should change your behaviors. Your subconscious is telling you that you’re worried about your behaviors as of late.

This obviously shouldn't make you rethink your entire personality! You're not a terrible person just because a demon popped up in your nightmare. Rather, you're trying to push yourself into action more than not out of shame. Maybe you intentionally ignored a friend's calls for days on end, or you've been selfish about your relationship lately. Whatever it is, it's time to redirect that behavior.

Being Paralyzed

Being Paralyzed

Being paralyzed is one of the scariest things that can happen to someone in a dream. Similar to dreaming about being trapped in an inescapable room, dreaming about paralysis could indicate that you feel as though you have a lack of control or feel powerless in your waking life.

This dream also points to an inability to make a decision, fears of doing or saying things, and not know the "right" choice to make in moral scenarios. In terms of physical paralysis, sleep paralysis can occur at the moment between REM sleep and the waking stage of sleep. It's a physical reaction to diving into REM sleep and can produce some scary feelings of claustrophobia, asphyxiation, and hallucinations. 

Empty Rooms

Empty Rooms

Dreaming about empty rooms is fairly common, just like about being trapped. It usually comes about when you need to get back in touch with yourself. The empty room symbolizes discovering a new or neglected part of yourself, which is often a skill or talent you’re not actively utilizing in your waking life.

Essentially, empty rooms are a blank slate -- a fresh start, if you will. Rather than being scary like the room without doors or windows, empty rooms symbolize potential, and it's usually the potential to do something that you already have the ability to nurture. even if you're not particularly skilled in the area you want to pursue, your brain's reassuring you that you have enough ambition to achieve that goal!

Clothing (or Lack Thereof)

Clothing (or Lack Thereof)

Have you ever woken up in a dream to find yourself completely nude? If you feel at ease in your birthday suit, it could mean that you are comfortable in your own skin. But most of us weren't born with that level of confidence. However, if you are scrambling to find something to cover up with, that's a different story.

If the comfortably nude people are happy with themselves, that implies insecurity on the part of the shy people. It could mean that you are vulnerable and not completely satisfied with who you are right now. Or you're not quite ready to explore a deeper level of emotional or physical intimacy with someone.