Fall Fallen Falling Fell
Some dream researchers suggest falling is one of the main themes in dreams. In the sample used for this book, the words fall; falls; fell; falling, occur 72 times in a 1000 dreams. The words find; finds; finding; found, occur 297 times. Whereas the words connected with looking and seeing occur 1077 times.
Falling indicates a loss of confidence. a threat to usual sources of security such as relationship, source of money. Also falling can link with your social image such as loss of face or sustaining beliefs. It often involves tension, loss of social grace or moral failure – such as falling into temptation.
Sometimes it is about coming down to earth from a too lofty attitude or even sexual surrender. Apart from insecurity, falling might at times point to the dropping away from or pulling back from outer worldly activity. We can in fact ‘fall’ in love, with all its pleasures and pain, its ups and down. And as the idioms show at the end of this entry you can fall in many other ways.
During our development or growth we ‘fall’ from our mother’s womb when ripe; being dropped by a parent must be our earliest sense of insecurity and we fall many times as we learn to stand and walk. As we explore our boundaries in running, climbing, jumping and riding, falling is a big danger. At times it could mean death. Learning to walk down stairs is a great achievement for a baby, and has very real danger and fear of falling. See: stairs.
Out of this we create the ways falling is used in dreams. By learning to meet our insecurities, perhaps by using Secrets of Power Dreaming we can dare more in life. This is in essence the same as meeting the fear of falling off our bike as we learn to ride. If we never master the fear we cannot ride.
Example: ‘I am sitting in a high window box facing outwards, with my son and a friend of his on my left. I feel very scared of falling and ask my son and his friend to climb back into the building. I feel too scared to move until they shift.’ Trevor N.
At the time of the dream, for the first time in his life, Trevor was working as a full time freelance journalist. His wife was out of work and his frequency of sales low enough to cause them to be running out of money. The building behind felt like a place he had worked in on a nine to five basis, so associated it with security. Falling was fear of failure, getting in debt, dropping into the feelings of self doubt and being incapable and feeling inadequate. In fact it was just a fear, and he went on to develop secure work.
Example: ‘I was on a road which led up to the hospital I was put in at three. I felt a sense of an awful past as I looked at the road. Then I was standing on the edge of a precipice or cliff. My wife was about four yards away near the road. I stepped in an area of soft earth. It gave beneath my weight and I sank up to my waist. I realised the cliff edge was unstable and the whole area would fall. I was sinking and shouting to my wife to help me. She was gaily walking about and made light of my call for help. I cried out again. Still she ignored me. I shouted again for her help. She took no notice and I sank deeper, the ground gave way and I fell to my death.’ Barry I.
Through being put in a hospital at three without his mother, Barry had a deep seated fear that any woman he loved could desert him. The cliff edge depicts the edge upon which a lot of his life is lived – a point of insecurity about relationship. His fall is the loss of any sense of bonding between him and his wife out of this fear. His death is the dying of his feeling of love and relationship, and the pain it causes. Understanding these fears Barry was able to leave them behind in later dreams and in life.
Example: I am falling down a cliff. In the dream, I know if I hit the bottom I will die. (I’ve been told by dream ‘experts’ that this is so.) I hit the bottom – my body is splattered on the ground, but ‘I’ am floating through the air thinking ‘How strange! I’m supposed to be dead! But I’m alive and free.’ Ingmar Bergman.
Example: ‘Near where I stood in the school gymnasium was a diving board, about 20ft. off the ground. Girls were learning to dive off the board and land flat on their back on the floor. If they landed flat they didn’t hurt themselves – like falling backwards standing up.’ Barry I.
The school is a learning situation. Once we learn to fall ‘flat on our back’ – i.e. fail – without being devastated or ‘hurt’ by it, we can be more creative. Dreams like this take falling into realms beyond fear. The following examples illustrate this.
Example: ‘As I prayed I realised I could fly. I lifted off the ground about three feet and found I could completely relax while going higher or falling back down. So it was like free fall. I went into a wonderful surrendered relaxation. My whole body sagging, floating in space. It was a very deep meditative experience.’ Sarah D.
Sarah has found an attitude which enables her to soar/dare or fall/fail without being so afraid of being hurt or dying emotionally. This gives a form of freedom many people never experience. This does not arise from denying or suppressing fears.
Example: ‘I was standing outside my mother’s house to the right. The ground in front had fallen away. The house was about to cave in. I felt no fear or horror. Instead I was thinking about new beginnings and the possibility of a new house.’ Helen B.
Helen is here becoming more independent and leaving behind attitudes and dependency.
Example: I saw that I was lying on a bed. … Observing my bed, I saw I was lying on plaited string supports attached to its sides: my feet were resting on one such support, my calves on another, and my legs felt uncomfortable. I seemed to know that those supports were movable, and with a movement of my foot I pushed away the furthest of them at my feet – it seemed to me that it would be more comfortable so. But I pushed it away too far and wished to reach it again with my foot, and that movement caused the next support under my calves to slip away also, so that my legs hung in the air. I made a movement with my whole body to adjust myself, fully convinced that I could do so at once; but the movement caused the other supports under me to slip and to become entangled, and I saw that matters were going quite wrong: the whole of the lower part of my body slipped and hung down, though my feet did not reach the ground. I was holding on only by the upper part of my back, and not only did it become uncomfortable but I was even frightened. And then only did I ask myself about something that had not before occurred to me. I asked myself: Where am I and what am I lying on? and I began to look around, and first of all to look down in the direction in which my body was hanging and whither I felt I must soon fall. I looked down and did not believe my eyes. I was not only at a height comparable to the height of the highest towers or mountains, but at a height such as I could never have imagined.
… I thought of what would happen to me directly I fell from my last support. And I felt that from fear I was losing my last supports, and that my back was slowly slipping lower and lower. Another moment and I should drop off. And then it occurred to me that this cannot be real. It is a dream. Wake up! I try to arouse myself but cannot do so. What am I to do? What am I to do? I ask myself, and look upwards. Above, there is also an infinite space. I look into the immensity of sky and try to forget about the immensity below, and I really do forget it. The immensity below repels and frightens me; the immensity above attracts and strengthens me. I am still supported above the abyss by the last supports that I have not yet slipped from under me; I know that I am hanging, but I look only upwards and my fear passes. As happens in dreams, a voice says: ‘Notice this, this is it!’ And I look more and more into the infinite above me and feel that I am becoming calm. . . .I see that I no longer hang as if about to fall, but am firmly held. I ask myself how I am held: I feel about, look round, and see that under me, under the middle of my body, there is one support, and that when I look upwards I lie on it in the position of securest balance, and that it alone gave me support before. And then, as happens in dreams, I imagined the mechanism by means of which I was held; a very natural, intelligible, and sure means, though to one awake that mechanism has no sense. I was even surprised in my dream that I had not understood it sooner. It appeared that at my head there was a pillar, and the security of that slender pillar was undoubted though there was nothing to support it. From the pillar a loop hung very ingeniously and yet simply, and if one lay with the middle of one’s body in that loop and looked up, there could be no question of falling. This was all clear to me, and I was glad and tranquil. And it seemed as if someone said to me: ‘See that you remember.’ And I awoke. Leo Tolstoy, A Confession, 1879
Tolstoy’s dream is a wonderful example of the subtle balance between fear and confidence that goes on in each of us constantly. Not only does it illustrate the loss of confidence, but also how it is regained – by fixing on a different mental image. The strange and fascinating thing is that the immensity above and the immensity below are equally awe-full. Perhaps the difference between fear and confidence is that although we may be faced by the same situation, when there is a movement from the feeling of falling, or being out of control, to the feeling of rising or flying and therefore being more in control, our relationship with the world totally alters.
Example: I am walking along a road with my family. There is a large pit ahead and my mother falls into it. I wake feeling very disturbed. A few weeks later my mother died. Sarah B.
Here the pit obviously deals with Sarah’s sense of her mother’s impending death. This enabled her to face the event with greater balance when it happened.
Occasionally: If we use fantasy and thought to get away from the ‘real’ world’ or if we use entertainment, alcohol, socialising, to escape from inner pain and conflict, when these distractions are taken away and reality breaks through again there is a sense of falling and threat. So falling may depict this fear of being faced with our own inner feelings.
A person falling: Wish to be rid of them; or anxiety in regard to what they represent.
Falling into an abyss or pit: Fear of failure; fear of meeting ones own depths of feeling and the hidden side of oneself; anxiety about some form of death. It can often be a way of facing fears involved in falling, and can be met by imagining yourself falling into the pit or abyss. See Falling – Secrets of Power Dreaming
Fear of falling: This may refer to anxiety about falling into old patterns of behaviour or past depression and difficult feelings. But of course it can still link with the other definitions of falling such as failure or lack of confidence.
House falling down: Personal stress; illness; personal change and growth due to letting old habits and attitudes crumble. Sometimes it is about leaving an old way of life behind and starting a new one.
Going fast to an edge and falling: Could mean overwork and danger of breakdown of health.
Seeing things fall: Sense of danger or change in regard to what is represented.
Idioms: break your fall; fall apart (at the seams); fall asleep; fall behind; fall between the cracks; fall between two stools; fall flat on my face; fall for; fall for that; fall head over heels; fall ill; fall in line; fall in love; fall into a trap; fall into my lap; fall off the wagon; fall on deaf ears; fall on your sword; fall short; fall through; fall through the cracks; fall to pieces; let the chips fall where they may; pride goeth before a fall; the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; the bigger they are the harder they fall; the wheels fall off; wheels fall off; fall-out.
Useful Questions and Hints:
Did I actually fall in my dream, and if so what did I feel?
Was I near a hole or an abyss, or at a great height, and what was the outsome?
Did someone else fall?
Where you hurt in a fall?