|Words associated with Fear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Let's say you are having a dream that frightens you--or perhaps even gives you a sense of absolute terror. The dream may cause you to wake up. You might be shaking with your heart pounding. You might be sweating. The dream that has awakened you causes you to lie awake afraid until the fear has subsided so that you can finally go back to sleep.
Most of us have experienced a dream like I've described here. Think back for a moment on what exactly it was in the dream that scared you so. Can you remember precisely what is was in the dream that caused you to be afraid?
Sometimes we can pinpoint the exact nature of the source of the fear in the dream. It might be a frightening individual or an animal of some sort. It might even be a literal monster or demon. The fear may have been aroused by a dream occurrence or the expectation that something awful was about to happen. Dream fear can be stimulated by a specific place or the unfamiliarity of a mystery place. Just as happens in waking life fear in dreams can be incited by a number of things.
On the other hand, there may be nothing you can pinpoint visually, aurally, or from any other reference of the senses that would seem to be the source of any fear. The fear might just be there for no perceptible reason. In the dream we might imagine that there is something to be afraid of but we can't identify anything that we should be afraid of. In cases like these, fear is merely an element of the dream. Waking from a dream like this can be the most puzzling situation, resulting in prolonged periods of inability to go back to sleep as we fret over the meaning of the dream experience and the reason for the fear.
Either way we might be led to wonder why exactly we have the presence of fear in dreams at all. The fear can stem from something we experienced in the preceding day or at some other point in our lives. Why we would dream about fearful things from the past could be because we have recently been reminded of those events. If our mind just randomly dredges up fears from long ago then that would be a peculiarity of the dream state that would be difficult to understand. Surely the fear is most often related to recent events.
Fear in dreams might also be related to something in the future that we feel insecurity about. Events at work, situations within the family, or other circumstances that loom in our future with uncertainty can trigger fears related to failure, rejection, and other negative emotions. The fears that we have about what lies ahead in our waking life might be reinterpreted as nightmarish situations in sleep.
A final possibility might be that the frightening dreams are symbols that don't have anything at all to do with our actual lives. Perhaps the subconscious fabricates nightmare scenarios to toy with us or even entertain us much like we might look for entertainment in watching horror films or reading scary stories. Our minds can often come up with pretty random thoughts that seem to come out of the blue. The subconscious mind maybe?
How do you usually respond when you have a frightening dream? Are your dream fears something you can usually actually identify or do the fears seem to relate to something that is vague or unknown? What frightens you most in your dreams? Are your fears in waking life the same as your dream fears?