“I’m Driving My Car and I Can’t Slow Down.” A Dream Interpretation.

Dear Satya:

portland-psychotherapy-dreams-byockQ: I have had several dreams in which I am driving and I can’t slow down. Sometimes I run red lights, sometimes I am driving and I cannot figure out how to use the brakes. I am usually very scared but I somehow manage to stay in control of the car.

A: Unfortunately, this is a very common dream theme, but it’s one that is indicative of a cultural illness of manic activity. The message from the dream is clear: you need to slow down. You may even think that you have already slowed things down in your life. If so, the dream is saying “try harder.” This is your own unconscious giving you a very clear message. Listen.

Cars in dreams are symbolic of you. They’re like turtles’ shells, the additional homes or bodies in which we travel through the world. If you have dreams of driving, pay attention. Pay attention to the way in which you are driving, or if you are driving at all. If you’re not driving, who is? Who’s in the driver’s seat? This is very important information. You can develop great insight into what aspect of you is actually in control of your life, or perhaps it’s another person in your life altogether.

Your dreams are indicating that you are holding onto control by the skin of your teeth. You may think “but I’m killing it right now! I’m totally in control of things!” If that is the case, this dream is clearly indicating another layer of what is going on, that perhaps you’re riding on a degree of mania, feeling on top of it while actually beginning to crash (pun intended). While you are safe for now, you don’t really know how you’re managing it. After a while, you’ll start to pay the price if you don’t heed the advice of your dream.

Dreams are often the first line of defense in getting us into alignment with our inner selves. If we’re checked-out or disengaged from our path in life, our dreams will reflect that. Sometimes, they’ll turn into nightmares to get our attention. But if our awareness gets too fragmented, we can fall into physical danger too: we forget to look both ways when crossing the street, we stop paying close attention when driving our car in waking life, maybe we just get angry with people in our lives when we needn’t be. It’s also possible that following these dreams, an injury or illness may appear to slow us down by force. This may again be what the dream is reflecting directly, with the car representing the body. Take a good look at your immune system, your sleep habits, your eating, and your physical well-being.

Your dreamworld is your ally. If your dream is telling you to slow down, it’s not demanding something you cannot accomplish. Find a way to spend more time alone, to breath, to stay aware of the moment-to-moment details in your life. Bringing yourself into the moment of whatever it is you may be doing will significantly slow down your internal clock and pace. You’ll be the better for it.

Have you had a dream like this? Leave a comment and share!

Satya is a psychotherapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and work with individuals in their 20s and 30s. www.QuarterLifeCounselor.com

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80 comments

  1. Manoj Pandey

    I also dream this very often that, I’m reversing the car and although I’m breaking but I’m not able to stop due to the speed. Thanks for clearing some doubts and letting me know that there are many people like me who dream like this.

  2. Jessie

    I had a dream that I was driving a big pick up truck and I was driving fast and out of control because i wasn’t strong enough to press the brakes hard enough to slow down and I couldn’t see clearly out of the windshield. At times I felt like I just closed my eyes because I couldn’t see anyway.

  3. Don

    I continually have a dream about driving, but I can’t seem to steer, or lack the energy to correct the steering. I always seem to be heading for a body of water- a lake, river, or creek. I always wake up at the last moment. I take it that this likely means that I feel I’m losing control of my direction in life.

  4. katiewithab

    I just woke up from a dream where I was in my car and it stopped working I couldn’t slow down. I was trying to get to my boyfriend’s house. The Windows became very tinted I couldn’t see very well. The car wasn’t even on but it was still moving down the highway. I ended up in the back driver seat but I was still driving, barely in control but I was still moving the car somehow. I couldn’t roll the windows down to try and get help or anything.

  5. Andrew

    So I just had a dream, was with an old best friend I had in high school. We were at a clinic, like a dentist office kind of but we were waiting to see someone. (A person I met at a business training a few weeks ago). All is well and I have my dog with me, finally meet the guy. And it goes left and my old best friend starts to get in a fight with other people in the clinic. Never comes to blows but a big scuffle. So we leave and acting all macho and then run to my car. So someone is parked in front of me in the parking lot but somehow I’m in front of them. Would of been impossible without hitting the other car, and I remember asking my friend if I had hit the car. My car is fine so I try to turn but have trouble turning on a one way. Finally get on the street but have trouble getting into the right lane. Eventually I get to a high way, and at first I’m driving fine, but then I’m speeding uncontrollable. I can’t slow down and the breaks stop working. I avoid contact with cars all up to this point. So when I try to slow down, the car flies into the air and I land it the first time. Then I pick up speed again and fly into the air again. And this time I wake up before crashing or seeing if I land again. Sorry if this is rambling, 3AM and trying to remember in bed. Felt like my lower body was very warm when I woke up

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