Common themes in dreams part 1

There are some dream themes that are very common. We will begin by looking at these and showing you how you might (1) decode them and (2) how you can use the information that they are bringing you.

High Places

Dreaming of being in a high place takes many forms. Sometimes the dreamer is on top of a tall building or on a high mountaintop. There is often a danger of falling, or at least there is some sense that a person in this situation could fall. In some of these dreams, the dreamer is in fact falling from a high place.

When you are up high you are away from the earth. You might be too identified with your mind or with spirituality which indicates that either your rational mind or your spiritual self is likely functioning as your primary self. You are probably disconnected from earth and all that it represents. This would mean that you disown your body, your feelings, or your instinctual energies. Another way of looking at this kind of dream is that people who are special, and who disown the ordinary, are always high up. Their position is precarious because whenever they stop being special, they can fall down and they fear that when they fall down they will become nothing.

We keep falling in our dreams because we continue to remain too identified with our minds, our being special, or our spiritual nature. So the unconscious shows us falling from high places over and over again. It is basically showing us where we are (up) and what we are missing (down). It is as simple and clear as that. Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology, called this the compensatory principle of the dream process because the dream is always balancing out whatever we are identified with or whatever we disown.

Fast Cars and Freeways

In these dreams we are driving too fast or our car is out of control. There is often an accident or a crash of some kind.

Driving too fast is the classic dream of a pusher primary self, one that is out of control. The crash stops us. For example, Sonny, a very successful financier, dreams repetitively for many years that he is driving on a freeway at high speeds and his car crashes. This is an accurate picture of the way he actually leads his life. He is always busy and never slows down. After a number of years Sonny has a heart attack. Pusher energy can be very dangerous and this amazing intelligence within was sending him repeated warnings of this danger. (His wife was also telling him he should slow down, but that is another story.) If he had listened to his dream, Sonny would have understood its warning and he would have had the opportunity to separate from his pusher self before he actually got sick.

The car image often gives us a general picture of how we move through the world. If in a dream you are driving the car you drove in college, then your general psychology now is like it was then. If you are in a car and your father is driving it, then your life is being run by your father (either your real father, or the primary self in you that resembles your father).

In these dreams, you are usually racing on a freeway. Again, this is a pusher motif. You might find that, as you pay attention to your dreams and you separate from your pusher, you are now driving down country roads, or you have pulled off the freeway to stop.

Quicksand or Sticky Asphalt

Dreaming that you are trying to walk but it feels like your feet are in quicksand or sticky asphalt is another kind of pusher dream. Here the dream is balancing, or compensating, your primary self, the self that tries to push so hard all the time. Dreams often try to balance our primary self in this way. Here you are trying to hurry and you cannot. Your feet are stuck. The harder you try to reach your destination, the worse things get. Your dream is intent on getting the message through to you. A variation of this dream is one in which you are trying to catch a train or bus or ship and, no matter how hard you try to make it on time, you are too late.

School or Military Service

Dreaming you are back in school or military service is a very common dream. Generally it describes the fact that we are living our life today the way we did when we were in school or in the army. In these settings our lives were not our own and we had to dance to a drumbeat that was not our own. In these settings we had to do what was assigned to us. It is very easy to fall into life patterns that are psychologically very much like being in school or in the army. This dream usually means that we are following a set of rules and requirements that deny us our freedom. We have no choice but are at the mercy of the rules that in this case are usually the rules of a particularly demanding set of primary selves.

A variation of this dream is being in prison or being locked up in a concentration camp. These dreams reflect a loss of personal freedom in our lives and often indicate a lack of connection to our feelings. They usually come when we are working too hard and life is becoming a prison.