Dreams are a universal human phenomenon. No matter where in the world you live, or how old you are, everyone dreams. They’re intriguing enough in this respect, but dreaming is also incredibly interesting from a scientific and psychological point of view; nobody is quite sure what exactly dreams are, or what purpose they serve. While psychoanalysts such as Freud and Jung proposed that dreams were a manifestation of repressed desire which people could not mentally confront while awake, often relating to sexual desires, more recent scientific research suggested that dreams are meaningless, and are in fact simply electronic impulses that pull arbitrary images and thoughts from the mind. Some people claim that they have prophetic dreams and can actually see into the future while asleep, which – while of dubious validity – is certainly one of the more interesting theories. It seems that fantastical and absurd things can, and often do, happen in our dreams, and yet we never question these occurrences until we wake up, seemingly accepting them as simply part of the fabric of life.
It’s particularly interesting that certain dreams tend to recur over and over globally, among people of different generations and backgrounds, to the point that they become incredibly clichéd — who hasn’t at least heard of dreaming about flying? The fact that such dreams are universally experienced begs the question of why, exactly, they are so prevalent, and whether or not they actually mean something? This article examines some of the most popular interpretations of ten of the most common dreams among the human race.
10. Being chased
To begin with a fairly obvious one, being chased in a dream is widely agreed to represent an inability to face some sort of anxiety. Possibly because we feel the problem is too daunting and insurmountable, or possibly because some of us are bury-your-head-in-the-sand types who simply don’t want to acknowledge it, being chased in a dream is a literal manifestation of our mentally trying to escape an issue. Obviously deep down we know that this problem isn’t going to go away, which is why we’re being chased. The way to deter these types of dreams is, of course, to confront the issue in question, however difficult it may be to do so.
9. Sitting an exam
The number of adults who still have terrifying dreams of sitting their final high school or university exams, even years afterwards, is incredible. Often in exam-related dreams we are either confused as to where an exam has come from, and so are totally unprepared for it, or our minds go blank as soon as we sit down in front of the test – both scenarios incite panic in the dreamer. The main interpretations of dreams about exams are either that the dreamer is afraid of not living up to the expectations of others, that they’re afraid of failure, or that they’re facing a challenge that is going to take up all of their concentration, the apprehension of which manifests as a test in the dream.
One of the most common themes in dreams are teeth. In dreams, teeth are believed to represent our confidence about our physical appearance and our vitality; in that case, to dream about brushing our teeth means that we’re feeling insecure in some way. To dream about teeth falling out, one of the most frequently-experienced teeth dreams, signifies a severe lack of confidence and worry about how we are perceived by others, or an inability to deal with small day-to-day occurrences. To dream of rotting teeth means that we are regretting something we’ve said to somebody else; the words are literally decaying in our mouths… A delightful image.
7. Being trapped
To dream about being trapped, either in a room of some sort or else physically bound, is another pretty obvious representation of feeling metaphorically trapped in a specific area of our lives, be it our work life, personal relationships, or even in our health. Another interpretation is that we are bored of the repetitive everyday routine of life, and are longing for a change. Happily, dreaming about being trapped tends to mean that we are confronting these feelings at least on some level, and are ready to actively move towards making the required change.
The first generally positive or optimistic dream on this list is the classic dream of flying. Flying in dreams can manifest itself in all sorts of ways, from effortlessly soaring to pedalling laboriously in the air and flapping your arms exhaustively. To dream of flying means that the dreamer has recently experienced something positive in their life, often sexual. It can also signify a feeling of being unencumbered where the dreamer has been previously felt weighed down, Some interpret the dream more obviously; that is, the dreamer has a new-found sense of freedom.
5. Being naked
You’re walking through somewhere public (always somewhere vastly populated, typical), and people stop what they’re doing and begin to stare, and point, and laugh. You’re nonplussed. There’s a terrible, creeping feeling of foreboding. Then you look down. To dream of being naked is the quintessential ‘bad’ dream, and can mean numerous things: the dreamer feels that an aspect of their life is exposed and/or susceptible to influence from others, possibly against their will, or it can mean that the dreamer feels as though they are being unfairly judged by others. However, if in the dream they are able to embrace their nakedness and avoid feeling embarrassed then it shows a high level of self-confidence.
Dreaming about death, whether it’s our own or the death of someone close to us, is generally upsetting. However, the meaning behind death in a dream is much more positive than you’d think; it is generally agreed to signify a rebirth of some sort, either a change for the better in the relationship we have with the person dying, or a personal transformation, also usually for the better. It can also be interpreted as a feeling that we lack a certain quality or attribute that the person dying personifies to us, and a wish to embody that characteristic.
3. Being late for something
Whether it’s an exam, train, boat or plane, most of us have had a dream about being late for something important. Often we miss it by hours and hours, but people also have dreams about just missing whatever it is by a hair’s breadth, which is more irritating than anything else. To dream about being late for something might mean that the dreamer is frustrated or upset about having missed out on a opportunity, or that they are apprehensive about an imminent alteration in their life. Either way, the message seems to be to try, if at all possible, to seize the day and embrace changes in life.
2. Vehicles out of control
Sometimes we are the ones driving, at other times we are doomed to watch an out of control vehicle come skidding towards us. If we ourselves are driving a car or another type of vehicle, it represents us taking control over our lives; if the vehicle then goes out of control with us at the wheel, the fairly obvious interpretation is that we are losing control of our life, or that we are on a self-destructive path. If in the dream we are in the way of a vehicle that’s out of control, we feel that something is going to impact our life in a way we may not want or be prepared for. If we recognize the driver of the vehicle, then it’s likely we believe the change is going to come courtesy of that person specifically.
1. Sex dreams
The mecca of all awkward dreams is the dream about sex. Whether it’s with someone the dreamer knows, someone they know who definitely shouldn’t be in this kind of dream, or someone they don’t know at all, you may or may not be glad to hear that generally dreams about sex don’t actually represent a desire to have sex with the person in question. Dreams about sex can indicate a perfect balance in all areas of the dreamer’s life, or can signify a need to adopt the defining characteristics of their sexual partner into their own life. It can also, strangely, represent a positive home life. This is all valid unless the dreamer is dreaming about someone they’ve had a long-standing attraction to, in which case it’s probably just a dream about sex.