Your common dreams decoded

Jane Teresa Anderson helps you interpret them.
Getty Images

Everybody dreams, and dreams, like fresh air, are free. Your days begin and end with the gift of dreams, even if you have forgotten how to remember them or how to unwrap them. 

The weirdness of a dream is only its wrapping, its language. But once you have cracked the code, the meaning of your dream can be more easily revealed.

Some common dreams

Exams and tests

You’re about to sit an exam or give a lecture and realise you’re totally unprepared.

(Credit: Getty Images)

What your dream means

Your way forward may be blocked. Feeling tested in one area of your waking life you’re reacting according to the kind of beliefs and attitudes you had at school or college. These beliefs might include issues about authority, performance, proving yourself to others and pleasing or displeasing a parent or teacher. Feeling judged or judging yourself harshly, living and thinking according to old-fashioned values and methods that are no longer appropriate.

Moving forward

Know that you are equal to all adults and to people in authority. You have no need to prove your worth to satisfy another’s judgement. There are many right solutions to a problem or situation. Know that you are forever both student and teacher, and that testing situations are opportunities to change your approach or invent new ground.

In your life this could be about…

■ A friend who is questioning the way you do something.
■ A new skill you are developing or practising.
■ A criticism or judgement someone has levelled at you.
■ A competitive sport you are involved in.
■ A teamwork situation or committee you belong to.
■ Your relationship with
a work superior, parent or critical partner.
■ Meeting someone you want to impress. Someone or something is on your tail and you know it.

Being chased

Someone or something is on your tail and you know it.

What your dream means

Your way forward may be blocked by something you have turned your back on because you do not want to face it. Guilt about the past, or negativity.

Moving forward

Face or confront the feeling that is still haunting you. See it as part of your history or part of your true self. Own it, feel it, explore it and then the haunting will be gone.

In your life this could be about…

■ A sum of money you owe someone from long ago.
■ A dream or wish that is chasing you instead of you chasing it.
■ Regret over the way you handled a situation with
a friend — and lost the friendship.
■ Regret about not finishing a course of study.
■ The anger you deny about the way your partner treats you.
■ An addiction you can’t beat.
■ Your inability to leave or change the highly-stressed job that comes home with you each night.
■ An injury or death that you feel some responsibility for and cannot face.


You are surprised to find you are naked or semi-naked in public.

(Credit: Getty Images)

What your dream means

Your way forward may be blocked by trying to hide your true self from other people, not feeling comfortable with who you really are deep down inside. Feeling vulnerable to being judged by others.

Moving forward
Let go of the facade. Let your true light shine. If others judge, that’s their problem. Judgement is in the eye of the beholder and has nothing to do with you.

In your life this could be about…
■ A job involving presenting yourself or your work to the public.
■ A relationship where you are pretending to be someone you are not.
■ Living beyond your financial means.
■ An exam you are about to take, you feel your performance will not live up to expectations.
■ A job interview you are about to attend or speech you are about to give.
■ A situation where you are being two-faced.

Lift and stairs

You are trying to get to a floor or level in a building, but there is a problem with the lift or the stairs.

(Credit: Getty Images)

What your dream means

Your way forward may be blocked by avoidance. Going the long way around a problem. Fear of success. Not feeling entitled to succeed. Feeling life was meant to be hard or complicated. Something you’ve lost touch with and are avoiding facing.

Moving forward

Know that it’s part of life’s learning process to make errors or to fail. Know that life doesn’t have to be tough to be worthwhile, and know that you can be rewarded for working smart rather than working hard. Know that you are as entitled as everyone else is to succeed. When you find yourself hesitating, ask yourself what you are avoiding.

In your life this could be about……

■ A course or project you are spinning out to make it last.
■ A relationship past its use-by date.
■ Your as-yet unfulfilled search for the perfect relationship.
■ Your job, if you are overworked.
■ The talent you avoid using.
■ The reward or success that you feel is well overdue.

This is an edited extract from The Dream Handbook: The Ultimate Guide To Interpreting Your Dreams by Jane Teresa Anderson, published by Hachette Australia, $19,99. Visit

Related stories