“Someone is Trying to Break Into My House!” A Dream Interpretation.

Dear Satya:

Q: I have a recurring dream that someone is trying to break into my house. It’s usually a very scary man, maybe about forty years old. (I get chills even thinking about him now). When I wake up from this dream, I often have to get out of bed to make sure the door is locked before I can go back to sleep.

break in dreamA: Oh dreamer, this is such a common theme. I’m glad you brought it to our attention so we can work through it together. You want these dreams to go away and stop taunting you, I know. You wonder what they could possibly mean and why they’re afflicting you. They’re disturbing your sleep and penetrating your waking life with the fear they contain. These dreams are very important dreams, but they rarely mean anything like what you’re likely to think they do.

First of all, I’d like to refer you to a little post I wrote about recurring nightmares. Please give it a read to help gauge what type of nightmares you typically suffer from. It can be important to identify some trauma history around nightmares, in addition to overall symbolism.

Okay, before we go on, I need to ask you to do one more thing: Get a piece of paper and a pen. Go on… I know it’s old fashioned. Now take a moment to go back into the feeling of this dream, then write down as many descriptors of this scary guy as you can muster. But write down what he’s like besides being scary. Does he have a job? Does he have a family? What do you know about him that you might be surprised to know. Then, finally, ask yourself what you think he wants from you.

It’s really important that you try to get to know this guy because he is your shadow. He’s you. I know, it’s yucky to hear that, but keep listening. This is important stuff. When we have an idea of who we are, our perspective about ourselves can become kind of rigid and fixed. Those things you avoid acknowledging about yourself to feel more comfortable don’t just go away. They get cut-off from your awareness and then tend to fester and get pissed. In your dreams, they turn into actual figures, and they can turn kind of primal and wild in their frustration at being neglected. These figures are part of your whole person, but they’re being left out in the cold. No wonder they want to break in.

So, the underlying sense in this dream is that you feel under attack. You likely feel like you’re under attack or in danger in some form out in the world too. But your dreams are telling you something very clearly here: despite all the dangers in the world that may cause a person to feel fear, you are currently under attack by your own self. Nothing more. Get real with yourself here. Try to be gentle and forgiving. Take your time. What are you running from? What are you trying not to notice? Who are you scared of being?

The answer to these questions can be found in gently trying to understand who this figure is that’s trying to break-in. There may also be information in what house you’re in in these dreams. Is it your current home or a childhood home, for instance? Notice what time of your life these dreams are situated in, and you may gather more information about what part of your life they’re speaking to.

As you do this exploration, take heart! There is always a happy ending when these dreams resolve. You will find that this man actually just wanted to tell you he loved you, for instance. Or he may hand you flowers. I know this might sound absurd, but this man is not as scary as he feels. The anticipation of jumping out of a plane is scarer than the jump itself (or so I’ve heard…). Similarly, anticipating an encounter with someone you’re trying to avoid tends to be worse than the encounter itself. Try not to think about this too much, but work on engaging with this man a little more directly–either in your dreams, if you can, or in waking life projected onto strangers or people you don’t like. Get to know him and what he wants. Try not to avoid him internally or externally. Discover what’s happening when you start to feel under attack in waking life. Stay safe, but also bring your guards down a little. Get curious. You may discover that your life changes in positive ways as this happens. And you’ll be surprised by how.

P.S. You may enjoy listening to this Radio Lab episode called “Haunted Dreams” in which a man who has been plagued by the same dreams as you–for twenty years!– finds a way to make them stop. It’s a great episode but–spoiler alert–they stop rather short of explaining why the dreams were there in the first place and what changed for the man after the dreams stopped. Perhaps your own exploration into this territory can illuminate those questions further.

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

94 comments

  1. GiGi

    I had a dream it started out with me and some friends and a ex but we weren’t cool me and the ex we just Delt with each other next it showed a kid from a ep of some sort where his safe word during sexual abuse was popcorn and then it started raining the rain was so bad it was going thru the roof thru my old room to downstairs of my old house then I went to my ex crib where this man was taping on his bedroom window smile and when that was happening popcorn showed up in the bed please tell me what this is about.

  2. Malenchenko

    I just had a dream right now. So to start with some background info. My dog had just died yesterday and it was really sad for me. So the dream starts off with my friend (old neighbour) Connor and me. Since my parents are divorced this took place in the game room at my mums house. At around 11:43 / 58 / 59 we heard the door latch break open. We waited for a bit seen if it was just my mum coming home late but it wasnt. We went to investigate and it was a burglary, yet I remember nothing was being stolen. Once he sat down for a bit, hit him in the backside of the head with a plastic kid-toy blue hoe. My friend had a kid toy bone the same colour. This might’ve been the Minecraft graves I set up which I put in an iron hoe and a bone. Anyways, back to the story. After we hit him, I lost grip of the hoe and he got up slowly. He looked like a bit of my music teacher and my mums ex boyfriend. Somewhat Hispanic, had oily black hair coming down his head to about his shoulders. He starts walking but slowly, so I feel like I’ve gotten him good. Me and my friend get items around the living room area like Vases and Fireplace Thinng and etc. I remember throwing one vase that was decorative and slender, about 2 feet tall, and another green one that had decorations implemented in it. Also before I forget, at the beginning of the dream it was like a high school party or something with my mums new dog she got for Christmas, Sage. So anyways we finally can’t dwfeat him after several vases break and etc. so now he starts saying “Immortal, I must be an alien right?” Or something like that. Then the picture in my head moves from that moment to a toolbox with a red outline to it. It is red. It’s in the back of a pickup truck with a black inside to the trunk. The robber then says something along the lines of, “us aliens are enjoyed when doing work. I personally loved manufacturing and modifying cars. Once I got—“ or something like that, I woke up 7:32 in the morning. Wondering if anyone has some advice on this. Thanks.

  3. Hayley

    I know this is an old thread, but I have had the same dream that only changed in small ways.. It started off as a man (can’t see any detail like he’s a shadow but he’s not) standing at the foot of my bed.. this started when I fell pregnant with my daughter. The further along I got the closer to me he got till he was sitting on my bed close to my belly. After she was born this stopped. But recently had a dream with the same figure but this time I got up and looked out the window and there was a person standing there.. and I checked all doors and windows with the same result. I woke up feeling anxious and nervous for the day.. would anyone here have any idea what this means (my daughter is 4 now so It has been that long since I’ve dreamt about this figure and no I’m not pregnant again 😅)

  4. Cassie

    I had a dream that my husband was driving our car at night back to our house, our baby in the car seat with me in the back. We were speeding and a police siren went off. We made it home everything was okay until outside we heard revving of a car engine really loudly. My husband went outside to see and I stayed inside. He talked to the man outside he wanted to race cars my husband didn’t so came inside again. The man became angry started beating the door, then left and we could see him outside talking to other people. I went to lock the door my husband ignored me asking for keys. The man pushed open the door and I pushed back to keep him out. I asked “what do you want?” he said nothing and the door closed. I couldn’t lock the door, the lock didn’t work now. I screamed to my partner to keep trying while I phoned the police. My phone was upstairs so I ran to get it. I looked out of the window and he was stood there watching me with a knife in his hand. I tried to call for help but felt dizzy and faint. I started to have a panic attack. Then I woke up.

  5. Elisabeth

    I have a constant nightmare about being asleep and alone in the house and I suddenly hear I’m
    being burglarized by older teenagers and I always get there after they’ve gone. Last night for the first time I had the same dream only I confronted them unafraid and started to yell at them to get out and began to scream but no voice came out, I’m always unable to scream in my dreams. I try and a tiny screech comes out only. So as the teens are running away, I’m running behind them trying to yell to neighbors “call the cops” but no voice. So again they got away but again I can’t figure out what they took. I have this dream ALOT. It’s frustrating coz in real life I’d have shot them or detained them at gunpoint and wait for cops. Ok what is going on here, why same dream with first time being different.

    • Anonymous

      I have just woke up with simular dream that keeps recurring over and over these older teenager,a about three ,come in my window .I keep trying to get them to get out..tonight I could not and I’m scared as my children are there .it is so horrible and now don’t want to go back to sleeo.

  6. McE

    This is absurd. A 300lb man in a winter jacket is not me. It’s been three days without sleep. He is just banging on the door. When I look outside he sees me. He then runs around the left side of my house, and I keep thinking, “do I have a back door” and then I run to find out if i actually don’t have a back door. I’m terrified. This same dream has been going for days on end. I love horror movies and this is more than I can take. It’s not me.

  7. Grace

    I just had a dream I was inside of my old house I grew up when I was a kid with my family. Both my parents are remarried but in my dream my family was together. All of a sudden my mom tells me to look outside and there’s a group of people outside the house and that group just kept escalating bigger and bigger. They were trying to break into our house. I was trying to hide in the house and hide my wallet. Then I went downstairs with some sort of water gun spray and sprayed at these guys and eventually they left and one of the guys offered to buy my dad some food. So weird

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