Do you ever have really, really weird dreams?
I do, and I don’t need professional help to figure out the source – usually that salami sandwich or entire cheesecake I ate right before I went to bed.
Recurring dreams, on the other hand, demand more of my attention – often because they are scary. In fact, most of the recurring dreams on this list might be more accurately described as nightmares. Perhaps this is because scary dreams are more memorable – a more effective way for your subconscious to get your attention.
Events and emotions in your waking life trigger your dreams. If you repeatedly have the same dream, your subconscious is trying to send you a message. Fortunately, there are a lot of online resources available to help you figure out what your dreams mean, including extremely detailed dream dictionaries. There are also online communities that allow you to share your dreams in forums for interpretation and discussion. You can even use the discussion boards to connect with people who have similar dreams and receive free advice from various experts, ranging from professional dream analysts to psychics.
Bad Dreams Are Good?
According to a lot of the material out there, once you’ve received the message your dream is sending, it goes away. If you take the time to think about how it relates to your life and act on it, you can correct the problem and you’ll never have the dream again. Lucid dreaming is another remedy. In this case, you realize you are dreaming and then take control of the action – changing the experience or the outcome. If lucid dreaming doesn’t work for you, you can also revisit your dream while you are awake, making appropriate edits during the process.
There are sites, books, and experts all over the place– you can even get your most bizarre dreams interpreted. For example, did you know that a dream about a unicorn means that you are “…ready to understand your animal nature and your spiritual essence” (petrix.com)? Of course, if you aren’t a little girl sleeping in a princess bed and you are dreaming about unicorns, I might suggest that you might have deeper issues…
The recurring dreams that made this list are ones that we seem to share in our collective consciousness – they are the ten most common recurring dreams I found during my research. In my opinion, the meanings of the most common recurring dreams are pretty clear, as you will see below. I have listed all of the online resources used for each dream if you are looking for more in-depth (and expert) information.
Have you ever had a dream that you are locked in a room, trapped in a mine, or buried alive in a box? If so, then there is some aspect of your waking life that makes you feel trapped or claustrophobic. Did you make the wrong career choice? Is there a mountain of debt on top of you, stifling the lifestyle that you thought you would have?
Dreamforth.com says that if you dream you are caged you “may feel like you cannot change your situation and are feeling trapped by it”. Kind of like if you were locked in a cage in real life, so that make sense…
Dreamforth.com’s interpretation also suggests that this type of dream indicates “you may feel like you are not being allowed to live up to your full potential because somebody is holding you back”.
9. Excuse Me, Where’s the Washroom?
I’ll admit I have this dream a lot. I search for a bathroom but when I get there the toilets are either broken or missing completely. Sometimes I wait in line for a long time, but when it’s my turn the stall doors are all gone or there are showers inside instead. I know exactly what this dream means because when I wake up, I always have to go to the bathroom! I’m not sure why my brain goes to the great effort to incorporate bathroom breaks into my dream life when it could just wake me up and send me down the hall instead.
During my research I discovered other meaningful interpretations to this dream in addition to the most obvious one. According to dreammoods.com, “to dream that you are in a public restroom with no stalls, signifies your frustrations about getting enough privacy”. As a parent of a toddler, this definitely applies. Not only do I never get to ‘go’ by myself in public washrooms any more – my daughter often provides a play-by-play commentary on my private activities to the rest of the lucky people in the room! She also likes to unlock the stall door and swing it open…
I typed “recurring dreams can’t find bathroom” into the search engine at sleeps.com and found a thread with lots of people who have similar dreams. So many that Charmin should figure out how to send out an army of their bears to distribute dream toilet paper – they could make a killing!
Anyways, according to one of the moderators at sleeps.com, a bathroom is a symbol for “thinking too much to increase income and not spending money”. One of the members suggested that we “encounter in this dream all those obstacles so [we] won’t pee in bed”.
If you dream of other ‘bathroom problems’ (perhaps related to your own plumbing?) consider consulting a professional. That brings us to our next list item…
8. Wet Dreams
If you regularly dream that you are drowning, or that large waves wash over you, or floodwaters rise over you – I would suggest that you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by something in your life.
Thecuriousdreamer.com agrees with me. According to their dream dictionary, drowning indicates “overwhelming circumstances in real life, feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, or something feeling out of control.” It also explains that “one huge wave could represent… a challenge in your life” and a flood might represent “feeling like you are ‘over your head’ or things are out of control somehow in your life”.
I’ve had some scary swaying-on-high-scaffolding dreams but my dreams about flying have all been very good in a weightless, superhero sort of way.
To me, dreams about flying express feelings about freedom; I checked with the experts online and their interpretations matched mine. Dreamsdictionary.org uses the following words to describe dreams about flying: “freedom of expression”, “doing the impossible”, and “creativity”.
But what if your superhero dreams go south? For advice when good flying dreams go bad, see #2 on this list (“Falling”).
6. Going Nowhere
Initially I thought that running in slow motion in a dream meant you felt “stuck” in a real-life situation and I had this dream lumped in with #10 on this list (“Trapped”). A visit to dreamforth.com changed my mind, explaining that a “dream that you are moving in slow motion indicates that you are currently facing hardships and obstacles”.
Dreams of paralysis can also fit into this category. One interpretation of paralysis is that you are “feeling unable to make progress of your own accord in your life, or in a particular situation” or you’re “feeling held back… perhaps even feeling self-sabotaged” (thecuriousdreamer.org).
If you dream that you are running in place, and you’re not doing the running man on the set of a 1980’s rock video, then this same interpretation applies to you.
5. How’s Your Dental Plan?
You feel something hard rolling around in your mouth and spit it out, only to discover it is one of your own teeth. Or, you look in the mirror and your teeth are all missing. Have you had this dream? This dream is apparently very common, so here it is at number 5.
My interpretation of this dream would be that you are feeling that things are decaying or falling apart in your life. I had no idea, so I looked it up at smartgirl.org and they said “…in general, dreams about losing teeth are common and suggest the dreamer feels powerless or out of control in a real life situation.”
This interpretation is very similar to the dream that you are falling (see #2 on this list), but the next two interpretations earn it a space on the list all on it’s own. The first additional interpretation is from dreamsdictionary.org: “you are having difficulties related to self esteem and speaking your mind”. In my case, if I ever dreamed my teeth were falling out I would just assume that my body is telling me to cut back on the candy and baked goodies – so dreamsdictionary.org’s second interpretation that “it could be time to see a dentist” is my favorite.
A bit more advice on this topic – if you look in the mirror while you’re awake and your teeth suddenly disappear before your eyes – you are probably just on a bad acid trip. Go find a friend and wait it out…
4. Public Exposure
If you have recurring dreams that you are naked in public, I would suggest that you are afraid you will be exposed. Is there something you are hiding? The experts agree – apparently when you are naked in a dream you are revealing the real you (unless you are Joan Rivers of course).
3. Lost and/or Unprepared
In another amazing show of my talent for stating the obvious, I would say that if you are dreaming about being lost or unprepared, you probably feel unprepared or lost in your real life.
If you can’t get your locker open, can’t find your classroom or your house; or, you’re late for something (a test, a train, a meeting) then you find yourself in this category (and in good company – this is a very common type of dream).
School, career, even a new home – these settings all represent change. If you feel unprepared for changes coming to your waking life, then prepare yourself for dreams furnished with impenetrable school lockers, locked doors, and labyrinthine buildings.
Smartgirl.org agrees with me (with a name like that, of course they would). Their dream dictionary states, “…to dream that you are late for something represents your fear of change and your anxiety about seizing an opportunity. You may feel unready or unworthy in your current circumstances. You may also be conflicted over decisions about your future… Dreams about being at school often mean you are feeling insecure about your social status, your abilities or your performance in a situation.”
Smartgirl.org also has this to add about dreams about locks and school, which I found very interesting: “dreams about locks mean you are frustrated and need to express your feelings about a situation in real life” and “…a dream that takes place in school may also be a metaphor for the lessons you are learning in your life.”
Dreamforth.com adds that “dream[s] of a school locker signify hidden feelings and thirst for knowledge”.
I think everyone has had this dream, which is why it’s in this position on the list. I really wanted to make the recurring toilet-related dreams #2, but could not justify it.
Falling is definitely a sign that you are out of control. According to the curiousdreamer.com these dreams signify a loss of control as well as “a sudden lack of foundation in your life, such as a situation where ‘the rug is pulled out’ from under you”. This makes sense to me, unlike their other interpretation that falling dreams represent “…a feeling or fear of abandonment, especially feeling abandoned by a ‘caretaker’ such as a partner, employer, or by God.”
My superior interpretation skills tell me that if you dream you are being chased – you are probably trying to get away from something.
According to dream.net.au, “you are running away from or trying to hide from something you need to face”. It could be “a feeling you are avoiding, a conflict you don’t want to handle or a difficult memory you would rather forget.”
But wait, let’s end this list on a positive note: the cloak on that shadowy figure chasing you may have a silver lining! According to the same website, you might actually be running away from something good “like a talent you are not acknowledging or a feeling of love you are not ready to admit” (dream.net.au).