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Eight Dream Symbols That Point to Stress

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When I was a senior in high school, I had a recurring dream of my teeth falling out. I dreamt about my teeth just about every night for at least three weeks. Sometimes they’d fall out one at a time, sometimes all at once, but the worst was when they’d just start decaying in my mouth and crumble away. In one dream, I was walking around my house, toothless and crying, and nobody would help me when I showed them the collection of my own teeth I held in my hands.

I became terrified that my dreams meant I would actually lose my teeth—my perfectly straight, took-years-of-orthodontics-and-thousands-of-dollars-to-get, pearly whites.

Nine years later and about a million trips to the dreams section of Barnes & Noble, I still have a full set of teeth, but I’ve learned that when we’re experiencing stress in our lives, it tends to show up in our dreams as well, many times cloaked in these symbols.

You’re walking down the street, going to work, or just standing in a crowd … naked. You’re mortified that you forgot your clothes, but nobody seems to notice. Sound familiar?

According to Gustavus Hindman Miller’s 10,000 Dreams Interpreted, dreaming that you’re nude in public foretells scandal and unwise engagements.

Dream Moods, a popular dream interpretation Web site, says dreaming about being naked shows you’re feeling vulnerable or shameful. You could be feeling inferior at work, or feel unguarded or exposed in a situation.

My storm of choice in dreams is always a tornado. I look outside, see a funnel cloud forming, and for some reason, I run right to it. For other people, it can be hurricanes, avalanches, or rain storms.

This one’s pretty simple to crack—dreaming of a storm symbolizes an internal storm in your life.

Dream Moods says storms signify “overwhelming struggle, shock, devastating loss, and catastrophe in your personal affairs.”

Miller says storms in dreams mean continued sickness, unfavorable business, and separation from friends—all things that will cause great distress. The good news is if the storm passes before you wake up, the stress won’t be as bad.

Dreams of crashes—airplane, car, train, or otherwise—represent deep anxieties and fears. Many people fear these dreams are premonitions, but most likely they aren’t. Crashes can represent a feeling that your life is headed for disaster. Are you pushing yourself too hard? Are you feeling out of control? That out of control feeling may manifest itself in your dreams.

Dream Moods goes even further to break down crashes in dreams. If you dream of an airplane crash, you may have set high and unrealistic goals for yourself. Car crashes represent a shocking situation or a painful experience.

Ever dreamt about the fiery abyss of hell? Dream Moods says dreaming of hell shows that you’re suffering from an inescapable situation. You may have many inner fears and repressed guilty feelings. On the other hand, if you dream of fire, but not necessarily in hell, it symbolizes destruction, passion, desire, illumination, transformation, enlightenment, or anger.

I once dreamt that my dad died, and I woke up crying and in a cold sweat. It was probably one of the worst dreams I’ve ever had. Luckily, dream experts say dreaming of death is merely symbolic and there’s no need to be afraid it’s a sign of things to come.

Miller says death dreams often mean the beginning of suspense or trials in your life.

They can also show forthcoming finalities, like the end of a marriage or a career.

Bugs in our dreams—ants, spiders, moths, gnats, flies—could mean a number of things.

Miller says bugs are an indication that a “disgustingly revolting complication” will arise in your daily life.

Dream Moods takes bugs more literally, as in something is bugging you. To dream of bugs suggests you are worried about something and are filled with anxieties and fears.

A third interpretation is the bugs may represent your sexual thoughts.

Most experts agree on this one; dreaming of a cat foretells misfortune and bad luck.

Unless of course you’re a devout cat lover, and then it represents creativity, independence, and power.

Miller says if you’re able to kill the cat or drive it from your sight in your dream, your luck will turn around; you’ll overcome great obstacles and your fortunes will rise. But if you dream of a cat or a snake being friendly, watch out—an angry struggle is around the corner.

Losing Teeth
Ahh … the dream that’s haunted me for years, losing my teeth.

Miller says losing teeth signifies burdens that crush your pride. If your teeth are knocked out, you’ll have sudden misfortune. Decayed or snaggled teeth mean business or health struggles.

Other interpretations for dreams about lost teeth are that the dreamer is feeling powerless in life and may be in a transitional period from one phase of life to another.

Some experts say losing our teeth in a dream parallels the time in our lives when we lost our milk teeth and childhood innocence; these experts believe that dreams of losing teeth today show we’re just as insecure and uncertain as we were in infanthood.

When I dreamt about my teeth back in high school, I was trying to choose a college—definitely a stressful decision. The dreams resurfaced when college graduation rolled around four years later and I’m sure they’ll start again at the end of grad school.

A little bit of stress in our everyday lives is normal. But sometimes it becomes such a regular occurrence in our lives that it influences our dreams and causes us to lose valuable sleep. Understanding our dreams is key to identifying and ending stress in our waking hours and restoring peace and restfulness to our nighttime hours.

Related Story: Seven Common Dreams and What They Mean


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