Q: 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
Q: I am driving with a passenger and I have to turn down a side road to avoid some traffic. After I turn, I have to stop because I see cars being picked up by water (like the images from the Japanese tsunami), so I turn around again, only to see a pile-up of cars and big trucks, as if an accident just happened. I was never really scared, it just felt like a lot of obstruction.
A: This dream’s events have you turning in all directions, trying to move forward, presumably trying to get somewhere in particular, but encountering obstacle after obstacle that prevents you from getting there. And these obstacles are not insignificant. First it’s just traffic, but after the second turn you encounter tsunami like waves, and then after your third turn, you see a huge pile-up. You don’t feel in danger, but would it be fair to say you’re exasperated?
Cars in dreams tend to represent who we are, and how we are, out in the world. Whereas houses can symbolize our more introverted psyches, cars can stand-in for our egos out and about (they’re the structures – like snails’ shells – in which we move around the outside world). These obstructions that are keeping you from getting where you’re going in your dream suggest to me one of two things: 1) that you may be pushing forward too hard in life these days and may need to step back a little bit to come back into balance, i.e. perhaps you should pull the car over and carefully consider what the best next step is to get where you need to go; 2) as the obstruction is related to other cars at each turn, it might be worth exploring what has been going on socially for you lately. Are you feeling blocked, hurt, exhausted, frustrated, by other people out in the world? Finally, I wonder, what roadblocks are you encountering in your life these days that are preventing you from going where you’d like to go?
I generally suggest enhanced self-care (even canceling some work) when these kinds of dreams appear — they can serve as warnings that our awareness is distracted, or our will-power out-of-balance, and real danger can result if we don’t take a break. They can be indications that we need to take some time to slow-down and assess where we’re going. The fact that you are not scared in the dream, despite the seeming catastrophes you’re encountering, leads me to wonder if you are similarly overlooking some difficulties in your waking life that need attention.
Don’t skimp on self-care and down-time these days!
Do you have a question about your dreams? Send me an email! firstname.lastname@example.org