11. Being Back at School
No matter how many years we have been out of school, we just can’t seem to escape it in our dream-life. More than anything, this reflects the profound effect that years of schooling has on us. Often, these dreams are accompanied by anxiety-provoking situations, such as being lost, naked, or unprepared for an exam. As discussed in the entries on those specific dream topics, such dreams could indicate you are feeling vulnerable, exposed or insecure in your current life circumstances. In general, however, dreaming about school is all about your job – at least, according to author Lauri Loewenberg. Says Loewenberg, the scrutiny and pressures we are subjected to at work directly parallel those of school. I guess it’s true that high school never ends.
12. Being Cheated On
Dreams are a place where we can express our insecurities, including sexual jealousy. It should be fairly obvious that dreaming that your spouse or significant other is cheating on you does not necessarily mean that they are two-timing you in real life, but rather, it indicates that you may have some worries about this happening. Fortunately, this is completely normal, according to threat-rehearsal theorist Keith Stevens. It simply reflects our instinctive determination to fend off romantic rivals to keep our mate. According to Loewenberg, you may have such dreams when you feel “cheated” out of quality time with your sweetheart, and you should let the dream be a wake-up call to alert you that you need to spend more time together.
Being attacked by snakes is the most common type of “being attacked by an animal” dream, according to Keith Stevens. Snakes are a real threat to many people worldwide, and this dream rehearses our instinct to avoid and/or survive this threat, posits Stevens. Symbolically, snakes could represent a hidden threat, the proverbial “snake in the grass.” A snake shedding its skin could symbolize transformation or renewal, in which case a snake dream could be seen as a positive omen, according to the website.
14. Being Late
Usually, these dreams occur in the context of being tardy to or missing an important event, such catching a plane, attending an important work meeting, or getting to class on the first day of school. This kind of dream could show that you are anxious about work, school, an upcoming trip, etc. It may also indicate an inability to make a connection, regret about a missed opportunity, or a need to get your life in order, according to Oprah dream expert Cynthia Richmond. If you have this dream, Richmond suggests asking yourself what are you missing in life and whom you might have disappointed.
15. Being Unprepared to Perform
In this sort of dream, you may find yourself, at the last minute, woefully unprepared for some important performance, such as taking a final exam, giving a speech to thousands of people, or delivering your debut performance on Broadway. According to Ian Wallace, this type of dream shows that you are judging your own performance in life, and are afraid of coming up short. Such dreams help stimulate our determination to be prepared and ready to perform in real life, according to Keith Stevens.
16. Hot and Steamy Dreams
Having a sexy dream about someone you love or are attracted to in real life is a rather clear-cut carryover of your waking feelings into Dreamland: you have emotions and/or sexual urges that you long to express. Our society is pretty inhibited when it comes to expressions of sexuality outside of certain approved circumstances, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are hardwired to procreate. Dreams give us a forum to express these desires. If you’re in a relationship, having a hot and spicy dream about someone other than your partner may indicate that your waking sex life isn’t totally fulfilling your needs and that you need to reinvigorate your relationship. That said, sensual dreams are not always about unexpressed sexual desires: dreaming about sex with a platonic friend or even with a stranger could simply indicate a desire for closeness or intimacy without hang-ups or baggage.
Unfortunately, not all sex dreams are pleasant. But don’t worry, just because you’re dreaming about having sex with your elderly 8th-grade algebra teacher doesn’t mean that you are secretly hot for him. According to Keith Stevens, sex dreams about someone you are not attracted to – even someone you’re related to or someone of a different gender than you are normally attracted to – are unpleasant by design; they are meant to disgust you so that don’t pursue such unwise pairings in real life. Similarly, dreams about being raped encourage us to avoid this disturbing and dangerous scenario in real life. According to dreammoods.com, dreaming about being raped could also indicate you are feeling violated in some way.
18. Being Shot
According to Keith Stevens, this is one of the commonly reported dreams about threats from other people, especially in the United States. This type of dream may occur as a result of your instinctual concern about avoiding and surviving an actual shooting. You may have this dream in response to seeing coverage of shootings on the news or because of violent threats in your own life. Taking a more metaphorical approach, dreammoods.com interprets dreams of being shot as symbolizing any sort of confrontation or victimization in your waking life, including self-punishment.
19. Being Exposed on the Toilet
Like being naked in public, being exposed to the public while using the toilet leaves you extremely vulnerable. Going back to our cave-person roots, you need privacy when doing your business so that no one can attack you while you’re in a compromising position. Therefore, dreams about being exposed to the public exist to encourage you to avoid potentially vulnerable situations, according to Keith Stevens. However, despite our instinctual resistance to vulnerability, sometimes it is actually in our best interest, as when forming close relationships with other people. According to Ian Wallace, an “exposure” dream might be a good reminder that you need to open up to others and not worry so much about the potential embarrassment you risk by doing so.
20. Driving an Out-of-Control Vehicle
Most drivers have had this dream: You’re driving along and realize you’re about to hit a car or person … only to realize that the breaks or steering wheel won’t work! Of course, this could also happen in real life, so this type of dream could simply indicate anxiety about such an event occurring, especially if you have been in a car accident before. But as you might guess, dreaming of not being able to control your vehicle might also mean that you feel out of control in your own life, or that you cannot make consistent progress toward your ambitions, according to Wallace.
It might seem strange that we talk about, and even dream about, celebrities almost as much as we do our own group of friends and family, but evolutionary psychology has a solid theory to explain it: If we see or hear about a person a lot, even if it’s on TV or in magazines, our brains cannot distinguish between whether we actually “know” the person, or if we just think we do. Thus, we can feel like a celebrity or public figure is a member of our “tribe” even though we’ve never met them. So, having a dream about hanging out with Jack Nicholson is not necessarily more significant than dreaming about hanging out with a college friend you admire (unless, perhaps, Jack is in character from The Shining). However, if you have a dream where you feel a rush of pride or elation because a celebrity is showing you attention, this could mean you long to attain a higher social status, possibly due to low self-esteem.
22. Can’t Make a Phone Call
Although telephones don’t resemble the form they did 20 or even 10 years ago, we are still dependent on our phones for much of our communications, whether it’s via text or using it to actually speak to someone. In fact, you could argue that we’re more addicted to our phones than ever before in history. As in real life, a phone in a dream represents communication. Thus, the common dream of not being able to get through to someone over the phone indicates communication problems or fear of not being able to connect with the person at the other end. Perhaps you are having communication issues with this person in real life. On the other hand, you might be a little too dependent on using your smartphone as a primary means of communication and could benefit from some in-person human interaction. (Ever heard of meeting for coffee?)
23. Being Paralyzed
You try to move, but your legs are paralyzed or physically trapped. Or maybe you try to speak, but can’t make the words come out. Whatever the exact context of the dream, you are unable to use your usual tools to flee a threat, go somewhere, or express yourself. According to thecuriousdreamer.org, paralysis dreams can indicate that you feel unable to progress in a certain situation because something is holding you back, possibly even self-sabotage. As a result, you may be exerting a lot of effort but still “going nowhere.” Try to figure out what obstacle you feel is hindering you in real life.
24. Can’t Find the Bathroom
In some cases, the common dream of not being able to find a bathroom could have the same meaning as being exposed to the public when trying to use the bathroom: you seek privacy so that you won’t have to feel vulnerable or embarrassed. However, in many cases, people have this dream when they need to use the toilet in real life. If you frequently have this dream and wake up with an urgent need to go to the bathroom, or worse, you find and use the bathroom in your dream, but not in real life, it’s a good idea to see a doctor to make sure you don’t have any, um, plumbing problems. If the dream is unrelated to a real-life urge to use the bathroom, it could symbolize that there is an issue in your life where you are finding it challenging to express your fundamental needs, according to Wallace.
25. Being Frustrated
A general feeling of frustration is perhaps the most common theme in dreams. Maybe you lost your car keys and can’t find them, or you can’t figure out the answer to an important question, or you can’t cry out for help when you need it. Or maybe the context is so nonsensical that can’t even figure out why you found it so frustrating once you wake up. This theme runs through most “bad” dreams, including many of the dreams discussed above. According to threat-rehearsal theorists like Keith Stevens, these dreams motivate us to be persistent and overcome challenges in real life. However, if you have these bad dreams so often that they are causing you significant distress, this could indicate that you have severe stress or a psychological condition, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. In such cases, it is a good idea to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. If your dreams have you tossing and turning every night, you might also want to talk to your doctor about taking a natural sleep aid to achieve more restful, restorative sleep.