4 Recurring Dreams and How to Interpret Them

4 Recurring Dreams and How to Interpret Them

Last night, I had one of those epic dream sequences that continued every time I woke up and fell back asleep. These dream journeys have provided me with several novel plots, so I’m not complaining. Unfortunately, last night’s dream didn’t take me to any awesome fantasy lands and it didn’t involve new or interesting characters. Instead, it was a mishmash of all the weird, repeating dreams I’ve collected over the years, as if my brain were a broken record stuck on repeat.

I’ve talked before about how a writer can harvest ideas from their dreams. The simple act of writing dreams down will encourage your brain to hold on to those night images longer. Of course, one side effect is that you’ll start to remember tons of weird, random dreams that don’t have any value as stories. But it can be amusing to see what concepts our brains toss around repeatedly.

Several years ago, I devoted some time to dream interpretation. It’s kooky, I know, but last night’s weirdly epic dream inspired me to have a little fun. Maybe this will give us insight about how my brain works. So in between dreaming novel plots, here’s how I apparently spend my nights.

Teeth Falling Out
My most repeating dream is that my teeth fall out, crack or break. Usually I spend the rest of the dream trying to shove them back in, convincing myself they’ll be fine if I leave them alone long enough. Sometimes I’ve been doing this in secret for awhile. Sometimes I get frustrated when I can’t make them fit. I’ve had this dream so often it usually wakes me up. In fact, the one time I did crack a tooth for real, I had a weird moment where I wondered if I was actually dreaming!

What does it mean?
These are anxiety dreams. Teeth are considered a symbol of our prosperity and independence, things we all fear losing. Various symbols may break down further; for instance, broken teeth might indicate fear you have misspoken. I always have these dreams when I’m worried about something (whether I realize it or not). Shoving lost teeth back into your mouth can represent attempts to salvage the situation, or making the best of it. I find the best way to deal with these dreams is to acknowledge my anxieties and reflect on how I’m addressing them (or letting go of things I can’t do anything about). But it seems I’ll never be completely rid of this one.

Returning to School
I dream about returning to school a lot. Usually the school I return to is high school, but I’m almost never a teenager. For some reason I can’t identify, I enroll in high school classes as an adult. Often I struggle through these classes, either because there are too many demands on my time, or because I’ve been ignoring the work. (Oops?) Once I dreamed that I showed up to a band concert having never looked at the music (yikes!). Another dream involved trying to find my instrument in the school’s ever-expanding storage closet. Sometimes the classes I return to are taught by my husband and once I had to take his place as teacher because he was sick. His students refused to listen to me. (He commented afterward that I had essentially had a nightmare about doing his job.)

What does it mean?
Schools represent knowledge and the pursuit of goals. No matter how far down the road of life I travel, I keep seeking the knowledge to achieve my ambitions. That I can never seem to complete my tasks probably indicates the obstacles left to overcome on my journey to becoming a successful author. It does seem like these dreams crop up most often when I’m frustrated or stressed about trying to get a book finished, or looking for a better way to promote my published work. As for the one time I dreamed of being a teacher – I think my husband’s theory is true!

Road Trip!
These dreams are the most comical of the bunch. I rarely know why I’m going somewhere, though I usually feel a driving need to arrive. I’m almost always in a car or bus, rarely a train or plane. When I used to work regular office hours, and these dreams occurred the night before a shift, I would inevitably realize that I was expected to be at work the next day and the dream would shift so that I was trying to get home after inadvertently traveling quite far. Once, my husband and I decided to go to Disney World, but I realized halfway through the massive drive that I had to work. We drove all night trying to get me back in time. Recently, I dreamed of a road trip that was supposed to take my entire family to a wedding, but we kept getting delayed by weird things every time we stopped for a rest break, including a car catching fire.

What does it mean?
Being unable to reach a desired destination in a dream usually represents discontent with where you are in life. And while I wouldn’t say I’m unhappy, I would definitely like to be a little further along the road of success. I often dream of road trips during life transitions (such as when we moved to England, and subsequently back to Canada). Looking at the obstacles on a road trip can indicate the specific issue you’re combating. Funnily enough, dreaming of fire on a road trip can indicate a fear of burning out – which I have certainly experienced since I kicked my writing up a notch at the beginning of this year.

Ever dreamed that someone pissed you off so much you just wanted to smack them? Perhaps they did something really horrible and you wanted them to understand how big a jerk they were? And then you woke up and realized you couldn’t be mad at them for real because all that stuff only happened in your dreams? I’ve had a lot of those over the years. Sometimes my dream anger drives me to do super crazy things (in the dreams, I mean), like get in a huge fist fight or completely demolish the furniture in whatever dream house I’m occupying.

What does it mean?
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes dreaming you’re angry is just a reminder that you’re angry, for whatever reason. But on a deeper level, anger in a dream can represent inner turmoil, especially if the dream depicts fighting. This could represent a refusal to look at yourself and the role you’ve played in a particular event or a struggle you have tried to avoid. I find laughing at how silly these dreams are is the best way to deal with them.

Okay, so maybe there was no grand insight into my mind at all. I’m probably pretty normal as far as repetitive dreams go. What weird dreams keep creeping into your brain? Have you ever tried looking up their meanings?

One Reply to “4 Recurring Dreams and How to Interpret Them”

  1. These are all really interesting. I imagine the first few times the teeth dream was particularly disturbing.

    When I was 16-17 I used to have dreams that my friends and I were wandering through the subway tunnels, which had been abandoned, although I distinctly don’t remember any good reason for them to be abandoned; it wasn’t an apocalypse or anything.

    Lately I haven’t exactly had repeat dreams, but I’ve had a lot of dreams where I’m in extremely tall skyscrapers with floor to ceiling glass windows and sometimes glass ceilings and floors. These dreams often involve me freaking out about said height, to the point where once or twice I’ve woken up with vertigo. I suspect this is a combination of my literal fear of heights and all the other fears that come with having a book on the way to publication.

    I used to spend a lot of time analyzing my dreams, but lately they’ve felt pretty obvious. I mean, glass ceiling/floors is pretty obvious as a woman trying to start a business. The floors are things I’ve already passed, the ceilings are things I’m not sure I can accomplish.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post!

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