What Do Your Dreams Really Mean?

While it’s true that we can’t control our dreams, sometimes they really do beg the question: What is going on in our subconscious? We’ve all heard theories that certain events in dreams can be related to how we internalize our real life struggles and successes, and most experts will agree that not all our dreams are as random as we might think.

According to Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, professional dream analyst, author, and recurring guest on Dr. Oz and The Today Show, dreams are an extension of our daily events and brain chatter. Once we fall asleep, our brains continue the thinking process, only in symbols and metaphors rather than words. In a scientific sense, Loewenberg tells us, “During REM sleep, the brain is working differently than when we are awake; certain parts of the brain have become dormant, such as the prefrontal cortex which controls rational thought, while other parts become highly active, such as the amygdale, the part of the brain that controls emotions.”

When it comes to dream interpretation, though there are many universally held analyses of dream imagery, it’s important to recognize that events occurring within dreams will differ in meaning according to the individual. Dr. William Braun, clinical psychologist, tells us, “For example, a pool may be associated with fear for a person who cannot swim, whereas pools in the dream of an Olympic swimmer may symbolize feelings of competition and pleasure.”

Here, we share some common dreams and, though not exclusive, their interpretations.

1. Failing an exam

Man writing on paper, text, exam, work

Man writing on paper, text, exam, work | iStock.com

This dream often relates to the feeling of being put to the test, and may reflect a sense of being unprepared, or feelings of doubt or inadequacy.

2. Being chased

This dream may symbolize that you’re running away from a bigger problem. Perhaps there is something in your life that you don’t want to face or are trying to avoid.

3. Falling

Man sleeping

Man sleeping | iStock.com

If you have recurring dreams in which you are falling, whether off the side of a mountain or down a flight of stairs, it may relate to feeling out of control or overwhelmed, unsupported, or insecure.

4. Being naked

Commonly associated with feelings of embarrassment and shame, dreams in which you are naked in public often relate to feelings of vulnerability in a greater sense.

5. Ocean dreams

In ocean dreams, water often represents emotions and what is coming up from your subconscious. For example, a tidal wave can reflect overwhelming emotions that the dreamer is having difficulty processing, whereas murky water might indicate a lack of clarity in one’s life.

6. Reoccurring dreams

Man sleeping soundly

Man sleeping soundly | iStock.com

According to Amy Cope, dream analyst and life coach, any dream, or dream theme, that repeats is indicating that there is something that needs your attention and you’re not getting the message. Cope tells us that we should pay close attention to these dreams and do our best to tend to the matter in waking life.

Lastly, Nancy B. Irwin, doctor of clinical psychology, clinical hypnotist, and staff psychotherapist at Seasons Recovery in Malibu, Calif., says there are no bad dreams, or even nightmares, per se. This is because all dreams hold valuable information for the dreamer to resolve, release, grow, heal, etc. Irwin tells us, “Just as your body is always working to heal, so is your psyche. It sends up images as ‘emails from the deep’ as to what is going on to enhance your well-being.”

Though a tricky subject with tons of theories and a variety of interpretations, maybe it’s time we start paying closer attention to what our minds are trying to tell us while our bodies sleep soundly!

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