Exploring the Sleeping Mind

The Nightmare Boss

The Dream: I woke up lying on my back in sleep paralysis; my body was frozen, but I could look around my room and everything seemed normal. Then my boss walked in and stood towering over me in the dark, wearing the same suit he always wore to work. He started interrogating me about projects at work. I was so angry and a little frightened and kept trying to yell “no,” but my mouth wouldn’t move. I couldn’t even lift a finger.

The Analysis: I had this dream several years ago while I was at a previous job. My boss at this job was probably the worst colleague I’ve experienced in my career—intrusive, demanding, and condescending. He was always staring at me behind my shoulder, eavesdropping on my conversations, and passive aggressively insulting my work. I was always suspicious of his true intentions.

In sleep paralysis, the body feels especially vulnerable due to its inability to react to threats or move even the slightest amount, and that fear can spark nightmares. In this case, the feeling of defenselessness and exposure while lying on my back, paralyzed and voiceless, sparked a dream of an invasive, intrusive person in my life. The helpless, anxious feeling I had around my boss was similar to the helpless, anxious feeling I have during sleep paralysis. During the dream due to physical limitations, I couldn’t yell at him to leave me alone; in my waking hours due to career expectations, I also felt I couldn’t yell at him to leave me alone.

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