Approximately 70% of all dreams originate from a feeling of anxiety. If the anxiety is very acute, then we will
likely experience a nightmare. A re-current nightmare is a clear indication that whatever the anxiety is, is
on-going and out of control. For more information about this, see the Nightmare page.
For most of us, the anxieties that forge our dreams are transient, but don't let this lead you to the assumption
that analysing your dreams is a pointless exercise; it's not! Our present anxieties often have their roots in our
past and analysing even just one anxiety dream can give us an insight into the underlying issues.
Everyone's life is a series of challenges; big and small, and anxiety dreams can arise from any aspect of
human activity (or indeed non-activity!) In my workshops I often here those new to dreamwork conclude that
a dream they've just shared was simply reflecting on a real life situation and has no meaning beyond that.
Perhaps they've just had a row with their boss and dream that he/she is chasing them down a muddy track
strewn with wounded animals. "Well yes", they may say, "I do feel very wounded by his treatment of me
yesterday". But what they're failing to see is that the dream is showing them much more than that. It shows
they are running away from a confrontation with their boss and this has resulted in feelings of helplessness
and disempowerment. It also shows that this state of affairs is affecting them on a very deep level and is
likely to manifest in a physical illness very shortly if they don't do something to change the way they are
dealing with the situation. Of course, we can choose to do nothing and hope our problems go away on their
own, which often they do, until the next time.
So, dreams do much more than reflect; they invent stories that enable us to make sense of our experiences
and suggest ways in which we can successfully surmount the challenges presented to us.
This can be very helpful on a practical level; perhaps suggesting solutions that we hadn't thought of on a
However, to understand your dreams, you need to learn their language. This isn't difficult once you
understand that dreams express concepts and emotions very literally, using metaphorical associations. So,
for instance, if you dream you are naked in a public place this often means that you have, or are about to,
expose some aspect of yourself that will leave you feeling vulnerable. Perhaps you are fearful that your lack
of skill or knowledge will be uncovered and you will be ridiculed or feel humiliated. If, in the dream, others
seem not to notice your nakedness, that might suggest that your fears are unfounded and it is only your lack
of confidence that is causing you to feel this way. Or you may find yourself searching for things, being lost,
being late or being unprepared for an appointment or exam. It's strange, when you consider the huge
diversity of human experiences, how we all subconsciously experience the emotion of anxiety in a very
But it's not enough to simply realise that you are anxious about something. For dreams to serve us usefully,
we need to know what it is we are anxious about and why a particular circumstance is causing us to be
anxious. There is always a clue contained within the dream that, once recognised, can be brought into
consciousness and action taken to address the anxiety. The anxiety may stem from an incident in the past or
it may be something as simple as needing to take some action in the present to make us feel more
empowered. Addressing this by taking action can allay our anxiety at a conscious level very quickly and
result in our moving away from the role of victim.
Your dreams are in the business of helping you, in all your aspects; physical, material, financial and spiritual.
Anxiety dreams are a direct route to self-knowledge, an express train to freedom from the limits we impose on
ourselves and accept from others. They often contain within them the seeds for personal growth and
transformation. So my advice is to listen to them, honour them and treat them as a gift.
Copyright J C Harthan (2005)