Recurring dreams keep repeating because an important message is not getting through. To get your attention, a recurring dream can become extreme, intense, and scary. To learn more about how and why recurring dreams happen and how to decipher their messages, see "Nightmares—The Dark Side of Dreams and Dreaming."
HURTING MY PARTNER'S MISTRESS—THE DREAM:
I am having recurring dreams about finding out that my man is cheating on me. Then I come into contact with these women (different women each time) and hurt each one physically. I feel really sick about it, even as I dream it, and feel awful all day. Last night I was dragging a girl by her hair and pouring vodka on her head until she admitted she was having an affair with him. In another dream, a lady was on my front porch with him; he had warned me she was coming over and I promised I wouldn't hurt her. However, I walk out the front door pretending to go to my car, then because she is tall, I climb up on her and keep punching her in the head. The dreams leave me terrified.
FELT HOW: Angry, betrayed, hurt, sad, twisted up, depressed, lonely.
MAIN LIFE ISSUES: Huge fears that my abusive, violent, and emotionally cruel partner is cheating. He keeps breaking up. I am 28 and he is 52.
STORY LINE: Someone has great anger and tries to destroy what gets in their way.
Violent Actions: Symbol of great anger and implies danger.
Cheating: Not living up to one’s commitments.
WHAT IT MEANS:
The dreams mirror your intense anger. However, although the topic is about other women, the dreams sound like it may be a warning that the relationship with this man is destroying you. You say in real life he keeps leaving you yet he is abusive and violent. My question is, why are you still in the relationship?
BOTTOM LINE: You are your partner's mistress, too. It sounds as if you may need to stop focusing on the other women (real or imagined) and help your self by noticing that you are in an unhealthy relationship.
A HIGH SCHOOL CRUSH FROM LONG AGO—THE DREAM:
I think about a girl I knew in high school and dream about her a lot. We never went out but had feelings for each other.
FELT HOW: Confused.
MAIN LIFE ISSUES: To this day I think about her, and when we were together in high school.
STORY LINE: Someone remembers close encounters with a special person in their past.
High school: A past place of learning, the school of life.
High school crush: First experience with love.
A Girl I Knew and Remember: Special memories of love.
Feelings for Girl in High school: One’s experience with love.
WHAT IT MEANS:
These recurring dreams suggest that you are still single and not dating. These dreams appear to remind you there is love in the world. The girl from high school is a symbol of someone who made you feel loved. The dream is not telling you to find her, she is a symbol of having someone to love. The dream invites you, indirectly, to go out and find someone you can care about now, who cares back. Find yourself a girl to love.
BOTTOM LINE: By age twenty-three, it is counterproductive to freeze your feelings on someone from the past that you cannot get back. The dream is a reality check. Find someone new to date who will love you back. Love is waiting for you to reach out.
STRANDED AND ALONE—THE DREAM:
My dream feels more like a memory. I’m a young girl in a 40's or 50's style summer dress in a very barren backyard; there is a big house but no one is around. It's in the middle of nowhere, there is a light breeze, quite warm and very eerie. I’m in the backyard sitting at a small table playing with a tea set. As I play, two very tall men appear around the corner but I can't see their faces which are blacked out; they’re wearing some sort of uniform. I don't want to go with them and as they get close, I see a massive explosion on the horizon which turns into a mushroom cloud. As the cloud gets close, I can feel the heat and wind, and the men are happy. I wake up just before the explosion reaches me.
I haven't had this dream in two years but before that, had it at least once a year from an extremely young age, like three or four; I’m now twenty one. It’s so real, more like a memory then a dream.
FELT HOW: Happy, then afraid.
MAIN LIFE ISSUES: When I was three or four, my grandparents died and my parents broke up; I moved to Australia at age six.
STORY LINE: A young one in a happy setting sees strangers coming to get her and views an approaching catastrophe.
Summer dress: Something light, airy and pleasant.
Barren back yard: A sad place, lack of love.
Little girl playing with tea set: A happy childhood, a happy child.
Strangers without faces: Scary grownups, feeling overpowered.
Massive explosion: Sudden changes that harm, feeling terrified.
Mushroom Cloud: Something terrible that swallows everything up and changes everything.
WHAT IT MEANS:
It sounds like your grandparents’ death and the split up of your parents caused traumatic feelings which became embedded as a recurring dream. In younger years, the recurring dream was a way of digesting feelings such as feeling alone, vulnerable, helpless, and scared.
As a teenager and more recently, the dream became a cue – a signal – of times that make you feel vulnerable, alone or afraid. It became a heads up to muster coping skills you’ve developed over the years to deal with such feelings.
BOTTOM LINE: A dream linked to a trauma can be a reminder to dust off and engage old strengths and coping skills. Or if the trauma has not yet been fully dealt with, there can be leftover emotions that need to be worked out with a counselor or therapist, to achieve your best strength and happiness.
A PULSATING BALL OF FEAR—THE DREAM:
This dream occurred three times, and each time was the same. In the dream, I’m in an empty white room. It is bright as if the sun is shining but there are no windows. There is a small ball in the corner, a pulsing black ball, densely packed with needles that give off static electricity. I start to become afraid of it. As my fear increases, the ball grows and pulses faster. I try running but get trapped in the corner. The ball becomes huge and almost fills up the room and pulses at an incredible speed. At that moment, I realize the ball is pulsing at the same rate as my heart beat. I start to breathe slower and as I do, the ball shrinks and makes its way back to the corner. I wake up at that point, in a cold sweat.
FELT HOW: Frightened.
MAIN LIFE ISSUES: Money, work, raising a baby and a puppy.
STORY LINE: Someone confronts something that is at first scary and overwhelming and the more one fears it, the stronger it gets; but when common ground is found with the feared object, the threat decreases.
Pulsing Ball: An object that comes to life and appears dangerous; a visual representation of your fears and anxieties.
Giving off Static Electricity: An uncomfortable interaction.
Pulse: What makes something tick, what makes it work.
WHAT IT MEANS:
The dream is about feeling vulnerable and scared and shows you how to handle people or situations that scare you or feel threatening or overwhelming. The dream invites you to look for what you have in common with the person or situation; once you notice what you have in common, it is less threatening, and your anxiety will subside.
In this dream, you meet your fears, face them and create a plan to deal with them.
BOTTOM LINE: The dream demonstrates that you can handle anything once you see what you have in common with people or a situation.
GOING UP AND DOWN AN ELEVATOR—THE DREAM:
I have a recurring dream that I am in an elevator. Sometimes I can't get out of it, sometimes it harms me, sometimes it is interesting where it takes me, but I am always in an elevator.
FELT HOW: Confused
MAIN LIFE ISSUES: I’ve been depressed.
STORY LINE: It’s a story of unpredictable ups and downs.
Elevator: Something that takes you somewhere.
WHAT IT MEANS:
Since you are feeling depressed, the ups and downs of an elevator may mirror your current emotional state. In this case, the dream invites you to notice your ups and downs, as a first step to handling them.
The dream may also bring up the questions, "what are you trying to rise above" or "what part of your life would you want to be in a higher place"? It could be job progress, attitudes, a health issue etc.
Recurring dreams can signal an important message that is trying to get through. Or they can be act as a "cue". For example, every time you try to progress in some way, you may dream of riding an elevator and as a cue, the dream would, in that case, mirror your attempt to progress.
The elevator as a metaphor of ups and downs can also suggest that you experience life as unpredictable, as in, one never knows what will happen in the elevator of life.
Bottom line: The dreams likely mirror your struggle to get beyond where you are at or to accomplish something. When the elevator begins to bring you to places that you like, it will signify a shift, and the dreams should disappear. Keep trying.
DANGEROUS WATERS—THE DREAM:
I had variations of this dream as a child between ages five and twelve and had it again now as an adult. In the dream, I am standing in the dark. The only lit area is a water wheel in front of me spinning water and a white substance is floating down from above. It is peaceful and I can hear water and nature. When I go to touch the wheel, a voice gently tells me not to touch it, but I continue to move toward the wheel. As I get closer, I see red, and the closer I get, the more red I see but I continue on, to touch it. After touching it the wheel spins out of control and is burning, becomes hot and everything is shaking. The voice that spoke earlier now screams with a passionate anger. I am knocked onto my back and start to cry and get away but the wheel has a hold on me. I close my eyes and when I open them, it’s all over; the wheel is peaceful and slow again.
FELT HOW: Terrified
MAIN LIFE ISSUES: Fear of Dad
STORY LINE: Someone explores even when held back by another, and though the experience turns bad and out of control, it turn out okay.
Water: Often reflects feelings and emotions. In this dream, it suggests your emotions get deep and stirred up as you step forward with new things.
WHAT IT MEANS:
The dream shows how someone goes beyond their comfort level to explore and see the world. A cautionary voice gets loud as they do so and things seem to go haywire. However, all turns out okay.
The dream suggests that as a child, you may have been timid, cautious, or very sensitive, and perhaps sheltered by parents, particularly your father who possibly was a bit over protective or rule oriented. Yet you are daring and want to explore the world, seeking an independent track in life.
The dream registers a push pull in you, the shy, timid girl versus an adventurer who loves to take up challenges. In that sense, these images and dreams have become a barometer, so to speak, of fears and timidity that may arise when a challenge happens or a new opportunity comes up. Even if it’s something you want, the push pull may be in effect, saying, “this could hurt you.” Of course in real life, you may have had some adventures that did cause pain and were disastrous, which is normal. The end of a dream tells you the path to follow. In the end, you find peace, and all is well.
BOTTOM LINE: The dream says: Fear not, explore and take up challenges and opportunities to go farther. However, if the dream relates to an actual incident such as being overpowered (e.g. rape or emotionally terrorized or whatever), the dream message suggests a need to clear emotions from the past. Get the help of a counselor.
FAILING AN EXAM—THE DREAM:
I repeatedly dream that I am entering an examination hall and have entered the wrong hall or made a mistake and studied for the wrong test. In some versions, I do not make it to the exam in time and run like crazy to get there on time. It is always the same "failed exam" theme, with slight variations. I wake up scared with my heart beating fast and sweating. I’ve noticed that two or three months after such a dream, something good happens, like receiving an unexpected bonus or getting a promotion. It was after such a dream that I met my husband.
FELT HOW: Like a Loser.
MAIN LIFE ISSUES: Fear of Failure.
STORY LINE: Someone does not measure up which creates anxiety.
Entering exam hall: Someone is about to be tested.
Enter wrong place: Disoriented, not sure where one is going.
Run like crazy: Feel vulnerable, not confident.
Scared in dream: Emotion that gets your attention, a wake up call.
Failed exam: Needing to measure up, wanting to measure up.
WHAT IT MEANS:
Some recurring dreams are cues, to t remind yourself about something or to get your attention. These "cue" dreams get you in gear to pay attention and to draw and attitude or emotion in you. In this case, the dream is a cue that you need to focus, so as not to miss something very important, and which requires you to measure up. It is said that the soul knows what is looming on the horizon, so when you have such a "cue" dream, it may be an unconscious way to prepare yourself to step up to meet a new circumstance.
BOTTOM LINE: Studies in psychology show that a bit of anxiety is helpful in achieving goals. Your "failing a test" dreams are your way of “manufacturing” such a touch of anxiety, to help yourself succeed, as new horizons or challenges, approach. It sounds like you respond well to those dreams. Take such dreams as a heads up to focus and get in gear for whatever needs your attention.
MY HUSBAND CHEATS AND LEAVES ME—THE DREAM:
I have a recurring dream of my husband talking to another woman. I get jealous, beat him up, break up with him and then he leaves me. They are different girls in each dream, mostly ones I don't know. I don't see him having sex with them, just flirting and then he ends up leaving with her. It’s always like that.
Sometimes I dream that he just disappears. In that version I keep looking for him and he's nowhere to be found. I am alone in the dark, or in a lonely place.
FELT HOW: Confused.
MAIN LIFE ISSUES: We're a happy couple and he always spends his spare time with me.
STORY LINE: Someone reacts to another’s normally innocent ways which leads to in a drastic result.
Cheating: Being untrue to some commitment, belief or standard.
Another Woman: In this dream – a rival, an adversary.
Flirting: A light interaction that can turn serious and lead one to stray from ideals or standards.
Husband: Can be a metaphor for the dreamer’s own strengths.
WHAT IT MEANS:
On occasion dreams hint at the future, but since you are secure in this relationship, let’s check out the symbolic meaning of this dream. The story shows someone overreacting (jealous, beats up for flirting), which creates a chain reaction that spirals downward. Most dreams are about you, and an opposite sex figure (your husband) can symbolize your own strengths. The story suggests you may overreact to something and doing so makes you lose strength, feel confused and depressed. Or, are you betraying your own ideals or goals about yourself in some way?
The question becomes: To what are you overreacting? Or what do you feel you may be betraying about yourself? It can be about looks, fears about talents or health, relationships with family, your place in society, use of your talents, or whatever. If you recognize a few roller coaster emotions around an issue, that is likely what the dream is addressing.
BOTTOM LINE: Once you recognize the issue, you can accept the situation instead of overreacting and see what you can to fix it.
I KEEP DREAMING I HAVE CANCER—THE DREAM:
In my dream I go to the doctor who does a biopsy and tells me that I have stomach cancer and have only a few days to live. I have recurring dreams like this, of having cancer, but in each dream, the type of cancer is different. I also had one where a woman survived breast cancer.
FELT HOW: Very worried, uncomfortable and frightened.
MAIN LIFE ISSUES: Anxious about the future, fear of death having cancer.
STORY LINE: Someone gets an evaluation that drastic change is imminent.
Going to the Doctor: Seeking answers, solutions to problems.
Biopsy: Getting a diagnosis.
Having cancer: Something worrisome and potentially deadly that needs attention.
Stomach: Where we digest, hence a symbol of how we are dealing with (digesting) life; a vehicle for nurturing and growth.
Death, days to live: Death is generally change, great change.
Survived Breast Cancer: Metaphor that suggests even though you are going through a lot emotionally, all will turn out okay, all will be fine.
WHAT IT MEANS:
Dreams come to balance emotions or give answers to spoken or unspoken questions. Since your recurring dreams of cancer show a different type each time, they are not about getting cancer. Instead, they deal with fears and anxieties, whether fears about health or about life in general. The dream of a who woman survives breast cancer confirms this.
Cancer of the stomach is a message that you’re not processing emotions and thoughts well and need to change your outlook so that worries do not run away with you. The diagnosis of death in a few days is a way of saying: “Change your attitudes and process thoughts differently, right away.” Your dream, as a message from your own soul, is an invitation to do so.
The ending of a dream often shows the future path, and having a dream about someone who survived breast cancer tells you that even though the thought of having cancer is a tough issue for you, all will be fine, you will be fine.
BOTTOM LINE: Dreams come to help; this one points out that when you let fears and emotions get out of hand, you deprive yourself of emotional nourishment and inner strength. Regain strength through spiritual practices, support of friends and family and uplift your feelings instead of letting anxieties take hold. Emotions are waves that wash over your mind or heart; watch them come and go, don’t drown in them.