8 Common Dream Symbols and Their Meanings

The average person has an average of five dreams every night, which last about 15-40 minutes each, and people spend 1/3 of their lives being asleep. But have you ever wondered about why we dream and what it could all mean? If so, then you’re certainly not alone.

For ages, hundreds of people from many different cultures – from prophets, to priests, to psychics – have studied dreams in hopes of understanding the meaning behind certain symbols and themes. Among those who dabble in dream interpretation is the “Father of Modern Psychology” himself, Sigmund Freud.

Freud not only pioneered the school of thought known as psychoanalysis, but he also originated the use of dream analysis in psychotherapy, because he believed that dreams were manifestations of our unconscious wishes and desires. Indeed, many dream experts today believe that our dreams hold the answers we search inside ourselves for, and that they reflect who we are, what we long for, what we believe in, and what we are afraid of.

With that said, let’s take a closer look into some of the most common symbols and themes found in our dreams and try to decipher what they might mean:


1. Falling

Have you ever dreamt you were falling from a great distance? Dreams like these are said to represent feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. It’s believed to be brought about by a loss of control over one’s life, and feeling helpless to do anything about it. It’s common in people who are facing a major life problem or crisis in their careers or relationships.

2. Public Nudity

Another common dream that a lot of us have is about public nudity; where you go to school and realize you forgot to wear pants, or show up to work one day wearing nothing. Dreaming about being naked in public is hardly unusual, but it can be distressing when we believe them to be real. It signifies insecurity, humiliation, shame, and feelings of vulnerability that may be brought about by being the “new kid on the block”, learning to open yourself up to others, or having to be the center of attention.

3. Being Chased

Did you know that the most common nightmare people have is being chased by something and running away from danger? This can be interpreted in one of two ways. If you dream you’re being chased by an animal, it could mean that there are deep, dark feelings or thoughts that you have that you don’t want to confront. Meanwhile, if you dream you are being pursued by an attacker, it is usually your mind’s way of helping you get over a real life trauma, a recent experience that has you feeling unsafe and wary of everyone.

4. Teeth Falling Out

Next is the dream about all your teeth falling out, which can also have multiple meanings. On one hand, it might signify that you are worried about your appearance and feel insecure about your attractiveness. On the other hand, it could also symbolize the loss of confidence, the end of a relationship, or the desire to be more assertive and decisive.

5. Death/Illness

Death and illness are common themes in nightmares, one that you have most likely experienced as well. If you dreamt that you or your loved one was dying or fatally ill, most dream interpretations suggest that these could mean feelings of anxiety about change or fear of the unknown. It might also represent a need to resolve unfinished business or get closure from something that’s still haunting you. Either way, both of these interpretations indicate a desire to start over.

6. Taking A Test

Dreams about taking a test are usually stressful in nature and may involve failing, being late to, or feeling unprepared for an important exam. The most obvious interpretation is test anxiety, but if you’ve long since graduated, it might also signify a fear of having to admit your mistakes. It represents a feeling that something bad is going to happen that you don’t feel ready to face yet.

7. Infidelity

Have you ever dreamt that your partner cheated on you with someone else? You might wake up feeling paranoid and wondering if your suspicions are true, but most dream experts would argue that these kinds of dreams actually reflect an underlying fear of betrayal and abandonment. It signifies trust issues and doubts about one’s own self-worth and adequacy. It might mean that you are not getting what you need from the relationship, or that you’re worried you’re not good enough for your partner.

8. Snakes

Snakes are a very common dream symbol, but there is some disagreement about what they might mean. Some interpretations suggest that snakes signify fears and worries that are threatening to overwhelm us. Others see snakes as symbols of temptation, lust, and desire, while there are those who believe that they represent healing, knowledge, and wisdom.

Interpreting your own dreams can be very tricky, because dream interpretation is rarely ever black and white. But reflecting on your dreams and what they could mean can help you get in touch with your feelings and work through certain issues you may be repressing in your waking life. They can tell you a lot about your deepest hopes and fears, and you might come to realize things you weren’t ready to admit to yourself before, and in turn, grow as a person.

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