Exploring the Sleeping Mind

7 Emotions and How They Appear in My Dreams

Our sleeping minds find abstract ways to express the current state of our mental and emotional health. Oftentimes, our minds will use the same symbolism to work through similar emotions and situations repeatedly. For example, you may dream of being in your childhood home whenever your mind is processing memories of pain experienced as a child. For another person, or even a different situation for the same person, that house might pop up in dreams whenever their minds are wrestling with the values and foundation of their lives. As you study your own dreams, you’ll notice that you’ll begin to decipher the abstract connections between the literal and the symbolic more easily. I’ve put together a list below of how seven different emotions in my own life manifest in my dreams. Think about how these might look in your own life, and you will be able to start building a customized dream dictionary in the language of your own unique mind.

  1. Strength – when I’m feeling strong and empowered in life, especially when I feel I can conquer challenges in my career, I often dream that I’m being attacked by lions or tigers and am able to hold them off and control them, even train them. I wrote about these dreams in more detail in this post, because they have been recurring in my life for many years now.
  2. Powerlessness – when I’m feeling ineffective, like I work so hard but do not see the fruits of my labor, I often dream I’m incapacitated in some way. Many times I’ll dream I’m so tired I can’t stand, keep my eyes open, or even talk clearly. I blur my words and stumble. My brain is coping, practicing those feelings of ineffectiveness in my career by using my own body as a symbol.
  3. Guilt or insecurity over moral choices – I really hate these dreams and they encourage me to stay away from situations that make me question the best path forward morally! When I struggle to decide the best way to deal, usually in an interpersonal situation, or when I feel I’ve made the wrong choice, I often dream of being in a bathroom where the toilet has flooded over. My mind is feeling disgusted with a relational situation and has portrayed that disgust quite literally.
  4. Control – when I feel encouraged that things are going my way and I’m able to shape my own future, sometimes I’ll dream I’m flying. Once I start flying, I often realize I’m dreaming and then am able to control my dreams. This is called lucid dreaming, and I’ll have to post more about this later.
  5. Vulnerability – when I’m feeling exposed and unsafe emotionally, my brain dreams about being exposed and unsafe physically. For example, I once signed up for online dating, and that same night, as I thought about random people viewing my picture and info with me having little control over who decides to linger on my profile, I dreamed the locks in my apartment wouldn’t work, and people kept walking in.
  6. Mistrust – when my mind begins to worry that someone in my life has ulterior motives, I have nightmares about loved ones attacking me. It may not be the specific person I’m questioning, but in my dreams, I’ll see a familiar face slowly turn into a shadowy demon-like shape until they are no longer recognizable, and then attack me.
  7. Happiness – I love how my mind chooses to express happiness in dreams. I will dream of lighthearted situations with friends. I think this is because I’m an extrovert, so when my mind is feeling optimistic, it dreams that all my relationships are going well and I’m able to spend time with friends.

There are many more emotions I could cover here, but hopefully these will get you started thinking. What patterns are you able to find in your own dreams that mirror your emotional health? Once you find them, what can you do about them?



2 thoughts on “7 Emotions and How They Appear in My Dreams”

  • I find some of my dreams to be really realistic, which is a bit freaky. Like I would wake up in sweat because I could still feel the intensity of the dream. Sometimes when I studied until 4am, I would have very sporadic dreams and I would wake up with a headache..

    • Realistic dreams can be really scary. I found that journaling and studying my dreams made them more understandable and therefore less scary which in turn helped me be able to control their outcome more often, and hopefully that will work for you as well. If they really bother you, it has also been found you can help reduce bad dreams by not sleeping on your back because it is a vulnerable position, not eating foods that are harder to digest before bed, like spicy foods, and getting on a regular sleep schedule, in other words, not staying up till 4 am! When I was a student pulling all nighters like that was when I also would have the most realistic-feeling dreams, because the body is in such a stressed state physically from lack of sleep.

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