When you think about it, dreaming is a really, really bizarre behavior experienced by every human being on the planet. Dreams are abstract, emotional, often elaborate mini-dramas that happen to us without our consent or control. We may not remember most of them, but powerful dreams can affect us on a deep emotional level, filling us with vague feelings of fear, anxiety, pleasure, and confidence, depending on the dream. Certain images and scenarios feature commonly in dreams, and many people experience recurring themes or symbols while dreaming. (I, for example, dream that my teeth are spontaneously falling out every few months. Apparently, it’s a sign of stress and feelings of powerlessness. Yay?) There are certain symbols in dreams that may seem threatening on their faces, but that actually may be indicative of good things happening in your subconscious. The key is that there is no absolute symbolism to dreams; their meaning changes according to context and to the feelings and experiences of the dreamer. As psychologist Dr. William Braun tells Harper’s Bazaar, “Dreams can go many ways," so that even if two people have the same dream, it’s meaning can be totally different, depending on what is going on in each person’s mind. If you’re dreaming about potentially disturbing images or situations, take heart: They might mean something good.
Dreams about death may be frightening, but dreaming about death or dying doesn’t mean that you or someone you love is about to kick the bucket. In dreams, death may simply be a symbol of a major change ahead, the loss of one way of life and the birth of another.
The positivity or negativity of falling in a dream depends on how you fall, explains Suzanne Bergmann of DreamsCloud in an interview with the Huffington Post. Although falling from a cliff or tall building could be a sign that you feel out of control, slow, steady falling can be a sign of positive release, tranquility, or letting go.
Depending on your situation in life, dreaming about being pregnant could be either enjoyable or highly disturbing. However, dreaming of pregnancy doesn’t mean that you’ll soon have a bun in the oven; rather, it’s a sign of something new in your life. This new thing could be anything from a new project to a new phase in your career — it’s about development, change, and starting a new chapter.
Being chased in a dream can be a sign that you feel anxious or overwhelmed, but Ian Wallace, author of The Complete A to Z Dictionary of Dreams: Be Your Own Dream Expert , suggests that these dreams may be actually be positive. He contends that we produce these dreams “because of an opportunity we are becoming aware of in waking life.” He adds that our dreams represent our willingness to pursue this new possibility, writing, “Rather than trying to avoid this opportunity, we are looking at ways to actively engage with it.”
The meaning of nudity in dreams is all about context. In some dreams, being naked in front of others can be a symbol of your feelings of vulnerability or anxiety, but nudity’s not always negative. Nakedness can also be a sign of your own confidence, your feelings of openness and trust, or your freedom to be totally honest.
Snakes are frightening for many people, but dream expert Barbara Condron tells the Huffington Post, “Snakes represent the dreamer's creative urge toward wisdom.” She suggests that snakes themselves aren’t inherently negative or positive symbols. Their meaning depends on the “slant” we bring to the table; in North America and Europe, snakes often have a negative connotation due to their association with the fall of man in the Bible. Condron explains that snakes in dreams reflect come kind of creative endeavor occurring in the dreamer’s waking life. She says,
Sex with someone who isn’t your partner or to whom you aren't attracted.
Sex dreams can mean a lot of things, and many of them don’t really have anything to do with sexual desire. (That said, it’s natural to have sexy dreams about someone to whom you’re attracted, and there’s no need to worry or feel guilty if you’re dreaming about someone other than your partner. You have a right to your own erotic inner life). It can feel really strange to have a sex dream about someone to whom you’re not usually attracted (like a friend) or with whom it would be inappropriate to have sex (like your boss), but you can take comfort in the fact that having a sexual dream about someone you know does not mean that you harbor a latent sexual desire for him or her. Often the people we have sex with in dreams are reflective of qualities that we would like to integrate into ourselves, such as leadership skills, confidence, or intelligence.
OK, but what about sex with a stranger?
A lot of people have dreams about sex with strangers, whose faces are often unclear or concealed by masks. These dreams can be indicators that you have a talent you’ve been hiding away that you should reveal to the world. According to psychologist Gillian Holloway, these dreams could also be ways that you’re figuring out what you want in a real life partner.