What It Means When You Dream About Being Chased

We might have liked being chased as kids (when we were playing games in our backyard), but as we get older, being chased is something we often associate as negative. Remember that movie you watched where the lead character was being pursued by a scary villain down the streets of a suburban town? How did it make you feel? Anxious? Scared? Terrified? 

Well, these are some of the emotions you might experience during and after having a bad dream about being chased. You might wake up in a panic, drenched in sweat, wondering what it was all about. Turns out that this dream has a pretty straightforward meaning: you're running from overwhelming people or emotions and particularly stressful situations in your life. It could be related to your professional or personal life, interpersonal relationships, and even your relationship with yourself. According to certified dream analyst, author, and member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, Lauri Loewenberg (via Bustle), dreams about being chased are some of the most common dreams people have. 

"Running away from something or someone in a dream might indicate that you're sticking your head in the sand to avoid an issue that really needs facing," offered psychologist, Manuela Schmitten, to Hello Giggles.  

Who you are being chased by could give you some clues

Are you being chased by a giant eight-legged tarantula? Or is it your ex or a close friend that's doing the stalking? 

According to dream analyst and dream therapist, Jane Teresa Anderson (via The Cut), looking at the personal associations between you and what's chasing you could give you some clues. For example, dreaming of being chased by a bear might mean something large is smothering you. "It might be an overenthusiastic partner, it might be an overwhelming job that wants to suck the breath out of you," explained Anderson. Similarly, if you're being chased by a car, you could ask, "What does the car look like, what's the model of the car, who's driving it?" she added. Decoding the emotions associated with the pursuer might give you an indication as to what areas of your waking life need to be examined.

Then there's the severity of the chase. "The degree to which you are being chased gives a clear indication of the degree to which you are avoiding an issue that needs to be addressed. Perhaps you've been risk-avoidant, or you've held back on confronting something which is uncomfortable or frightening," explained psychotherapist Matthew Bowes, per Refinery29. Take a look at your dream surroundings too. While water might mean drowning in emotions, a dead-end street could be telling you that time is of the essence in facing what you need to face. 

Can you prevent dreams about being chased?

While it might not be possible to completely stop having dreams about being chased, you could, however, look at the areas or relationships in your life that give rise to these overwhelming emotions and deal with them head-on.

Psychotherapist trained at the Jung Institute in Boston, Richard Nicoletti told Huffpost, "It could be a wake-up call. Trying to avoid the issue could lead to more recurring dreams." One of the good things about your sleep-state fantasies is what dreams can tell you about your health, and in the case of visions of being chased, they're an indicator to deal with the overwhelming and stressful things you've been avoiding in your real life. Journaling about your dreams can help clarify and unearth things you otherwise might not be aware of. 

If you are unable to pinpoint the problem area accurately, enlist the help of therapists who might use tools like Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) to arrive at a better understanding. "[CBT] is a widely practiced and effective form of psychotherapy. It focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to emotional distress," explained psychologist, Meeti Vaidya (via Hindustan Times). Registered clinical counselor, Leslie Ellis told mindbodygreen that you can also try facing your dream chaser by lucid dreaming or re-creating the dream in your wakeful state. "Imagine yourself back in your dream, and sink into the dreamscape using as many senses as possible ... Then stop running, calm down, and face your chaser. This will tend to stop them in their tracks," she explained.