Anxiety dreams are never pleasant. I haven't been inside a classroom since 2011, and I'm still having nightmares about showing up for finals I've never studied for. As an adult, stress dreams about work are somehow even worse, since that's the space in which you spend most of your time to begin with. Who among us hasn't woken up in a cold sweat after subconsciously arriving at the office naked, or getting lost on the way to the bathroom, or showing up late no matter how early your corporeal dream body got on the train?
But dreaming about getting fired is particularly unsettling, especially when you're already clocking in too many hours, facing a performance review, or behind on a project. So what does it mean if you dream about losing your job?
First and foremost, dreams don't predict the future, which is good news for folks who are terrified that their dreams about getting fired portend impending unemployment. Still, dreaming about the pink slip could be a sign you need to de-stress. Work dreams are indeed related to anxiety over work, which makes dreaming about getting fired all the more difficult — studies show that 65 percent of women and 43 percent of men wake up from work stress dreams feeling even more anxious about their job performance which can be its own vicious cycle. But dreaming about getting fired can also have to do with stress unrelated to work, like anxiety over another major life event or feeling out of control. Here are some explanations that may help tamp down a getting-fired dream freakout:
You're feeling insecure.
Obviously, if you're insecure about your job you may dream about losing it. But dreaming about getting fired can also point to insecurities elsewhere, like in a romantic relationship, friendship, or other seemingly unstable aspect of your life unrelated to the workplace.
You don't feel supported.
If you're subconsciously worried you're going to be let go at work, you may be feeling unsupported by your coworkers or boss in waking life. This fear of not being backed up could even extend to relationships beyond the workplace, like that with a friend or significant other.
If you feel like you're not hitting the mark at or outside of work, that feeling of being in over your head or falling behind could turn into an anxiety dream about getting fired. You may not be worried specifically about losing your job, but your subconscious may sense that you're letting someone down (including yourself!).
You're overworked, or you need to work harder.
In general, if you're dreaming about work, work is on the brain. It could be that you're anxious about an upcoming project, or you've been logging extra-long hours and your subconscious is having a hard time separating itself from the workplace. It could be that you're putting off work, or forgot to finish something you had on the agenda. Or, it could be that you're dealing with a conflict with a coworker or your employer. Either way, it's a good idea to try to come up with a method to separate your home and work life, so you aren't being plagued with office stress even while you sleep.