Dreams and nightmares often convey messages from the unconscious through images that have both archetypal and personal meaning to the dreamer. The more emotionally powerful or repetitive your dreams become, the more urgent is the message from the unconscious. As the degree of fear experienced in your dreams intensifies, it becomes increasingly critical to figure out what your unconscious is trying to tell you. What is it that is not working in your conscious life? What are you disowning or neglecting?
Dreams are often triggered by specific events occurring the day before the dream—events that may have gone unnoticed. It’s therefore helpful to ask oneself what happened the day before the nightmare. Did I stop myself from speaking up? Why did I lose my temper at the slightest provocation?
Look at the nuances in your dream, such as the specific people in it, the location of the dream, and sequence of events. The story of the dream can be viewed as a metaphor for what is going on in your psyche, with the different characters often representing different disowned aspects of yourself.
Dreams about teeth falling out:
Dreams about one’s teeth falling out are unpleasant and distressing. It’s a great relief to wake up from such a dream and find your teeth intact. Generally such dreams have to do with not being tough enough with others, not standing your ground, not being able to grit your teeth and say “no.” Baring one’s teeth is a symbol of aggression. Using your teeth to bite into food is key to taking in the nourishment you need. Even a bold smile requires the showing of teeth that are firmly in place. When your teeth fall out, there’s a loss of the strength needed for self-preservation. You have no bite, metaphorically speaking.
If this were my dream, I would ask myself how I might be experiencing loss, frustration, and impotence, or a lack of nourishment and sustenance. Am I unwilling to stand up for myself to obtain my needs, such as needed rest, respect, or support? I would consider how I could become more self-empowered.
Much of the meaning of a dream is found in the details. So it’s important to look at the setting of the dream. Other people or familiar locations may represent disowned parts of your personality. For instance, did your teeth start falling out right after you visited a house like the one your father used to live in? This could indicate that you lose your ability to stand up for yourself with people who may play a father figure in your current relationships or with people who might intimidate you.
Nightmares of the world ending:
Dreams of a natural catastrophe or the world ending should not be ignored. They often indicate that dramatic changes are occurring and that transformation of your psyche is necessary. When our way of being in the world is no longer working, our unconscious feels as though the world is ending. The dream uses images to symbolize the demise of the primary psychological structure. The old psychological framework isn’t working and is about to fall apart.
The more fear or terror you experience during the dream, the less control and peace of mind you have over the changes coming. When changes are thrust into our lives without our mindful awareness of what is going on, they can create illness, mayhem, or breakdown.
Yet, when we take notice of powerful dreams and listen to what our psyche needs, transitions in our lives will occur with less painful upheaval. Where there is an ending, there is also an opportunity to generate a new “world” by creating a more effective way of being in the world.
If this were my dream, I would ask myself how I could develop a more desirable way of relating to myself and others that would be more fulfilling to my soul. By figuring out what fundamental changes you need to make, you can foster positive growth with less turbulence and struggle. By taking the difficult steps of changing your patterned behavior, you can encourage the metamorphosis to occur with less pain and suffering.
Your dreams are telling you something. By paying attention to them you can turn peril into possibility.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD