Who Am I in My Dream?


Thank goodness we are not held accountable for the things we do in our dreams!  Most of us have indulged in violent or antisocial behavior, been promiscuous, or conducted a business meeting topless!  These images can be frightening and shame producing if we identify with the self who shows up in the dream.

Identifying with the figure who represents you in a dream sometimes makes it impossible to deepen the understanding of the message of the dream because you feel so squeamish about what happened in the dream.  The most important thing to remember is that the figure who is YOU in the dream is not actually YOU.  That figure represents the current state of identity–the YOU you know yourself to be today or the night you had the dream.Many times the dream  is the harbinger of new and unfolding aspects of identity.  Those emerging aspects of self are always frightening or disgusting or upsetting to the self you are today.  For example, a woman who was very quiet and retiring was on the cusp of speaking up more for herself.  She dreamed that she was growing claws and fangs.  She woke horrified.  To the self she knew herself to be–retiring, quiet, and unable to express aggression, the new emerging self who would be able to do that was horrifying.

So when you find yourself doing something unexpected, or embarrassing or criminal or shocking–remember it’s only relative to an established sense of self.  The new parts of self often come in as exaggerated or extreme.  Your own wise psyche is preparing you for a change and getting your more staid, familiar self ready.  Be curious about what’s coming in, and why it might appear so shocking to your familiar identity.



Did you ever have a nightmare? Who hasn’t?

Though dreaded, at one time or another, the nightmare is known to all of us.

And here’s the question I would ask you—even though you were terrified of something frightening and anxiety provoking that happened—following the nightmare did anything like that happen?

Overwhelming the answer is “No.”

The nightmare is only frightening from one point of view, and that is from the dreamer’s. If a robber is about to break into your house, it isn’t the robber who is anxious. If your car is about to careen off a cliff, it isn’t the car, or the cliff, or some other person who is terrified; it is you.

The nightmare is a dream that is extremely frightening and provokes distress and anxiety in the dreamer who is also the protagonist of the drama. Most often the fear escalates to such an extent that we wake up scared, with our hearts pounding.

Here’s a reason why:

The person who appears as myself in the dream represents the status quo of who I think myself to be at this particular time. The “I” of the dream represents a state of identity, and it is to that state of identity that something appears terrifying.

A lovely, very socially conscious woman dreamed that she was traveling on a long ocean voyage with many trunks of clothes and belongings. Thieves broke into her stateroom to steal her jewelry and handbags. She woke from this dream in a panic and a sweat.

The woman, whom I will call Mary, was on the cusp of letting go of the need to be seen in a particular way. Her identity as a socially prominent, well-dressed person who presented an image of perfection to the world around her was about to be undone. As she struggled to find the part of herself that was spontaneous, artistic, and even out-spoken, her demure persona was going to take a hit.

The nightmare prepared her for what was coming. Her deeper self needed a more expanded identity in order to include parts of herself that she had previously excluded, and so the nightmare was like a harbinger of things to come. The robbers were antagonists to her status quo identity at the time, but they were helpers who wanted to move her forward to a more expanded, inclusive identity.

The next time you wake from a nightmare, ask you self—what part of you is scared and what part of you is trying to expand who you are?

Losing Teeth in Dreams


One of the most common anxiety dreams is losing teeth: they loosen and fall out, crumble, are extracted, or knocked out. Teeth have many functions:

  • They are a first line of self-defense
  • The earliest form of aggression–we bite.
  • They are the gateway or barrier between the inner world and the outer.
  • They are the “tools” that makes it possible to take large chunks of nourishment, and break them down into smaller sizes that can be metabolized.

With them we can “sink our teeth into something” meaning we can be deeply commit, understand, and become fully involved. Translating these characteristics into psychologically meaningful language means that when we dream of teeth falling out, we are losing some differentiation between ourselves and someone else. We may be losing our grip or hold on a big problem because we are losing our ability to break it down into smaller more manageable pieces.

Only babies and very old people have no teeth, so losing teeth may scare us because we are losing some autonomy or power that will render us dangerously dependent.


When we were young, many of us put a lost tooth under the pillow so that the tooth fairy would come and bring us money or something special. The dream may also warn us that it is dangerous to wish to regress to a magical place where we are taken care of and wishes will be granted without our own hard work.

Teeth also give us our beautiful smiles which draw others toward us. Losing teeth may render us unappealing, and we may fear that something is happening that will cause others to be repelled by us.

When we have a tooth loss dream, the wise dream maker is giving us an experience of anxiety because we need to pay attention to something that is going on that has to do with loss of autonomy, independence, power, and ability to accomplish things by breaking them down into manageable sizes.