Emotions and Mood in Dreams

Dreams often involve intense emotions. This feature examines how to work with these and what part they play in our health.

Emotions and Mood in Dreams

There is a level of human experience which is typified by intense emotional and physical response to life. Such emotions and bodily drives may remain almost entirely unconscious until touched by exploring your dream content in the right setting, or by being revealed by dramatic events in your life. When such feelings and bodily movements arise, as they do in dreams, we may be amazed at their power and clarity. See: processing dreams; Techniques for Exploring your Dreamsmovements during sleep.

We are all unconsciously aware of how emotions and mood flow into physical movement and actions as well as influencing our personal response to life. We recognise how someone who is vivacious is expressing lively emotions. Similarly someone who is depressed physically is obviously withdrawn emotionally. In fact emotions are not only what energises us, but also what can pull us down, cause us to withdraw or give up. The feelings we have about people and events are also sensors telling us how we are responding, what frightens us, what excites us. So any means used to deaden emotions such as nicotine, alcohol and pain killers also deadens these sensors.

It is now well known that emotions can have very destructive effects on the body, as in grief and anxiety. Also the healing effects of laughter and pleasure are equally marked. Dreams help us see how our moods and emotions are influencing our health and general responsiveness in life.

If we take away the images and events occurring in a dream and simply look to see what feelings or emotions are evident, the dream is often more understandable than if we try to interpret the symbols. Feelings in dreams are nearly always undistorted. We therefore do not need to interpret them, simply to recognise them and see if we can recognise where they occur in waking life.

The images in a dream may be the way we unconsciously pictorialise our flux of feelings and the play of internal energy flows. For instance love or sexual drive can give rise to physical movement – as in sexual intercourse. Repression of sex or love also represses such physical movements, leading to tension and conflict, which might be presented in the drama of a dream.

Example: ‘I was with my wife, walking along a street, on holiday with her. But I felt awful tension. It was the sort of stress I feel when I have turned off my sexual flow – as I have at the moment.’ Brian V.

Brian can easily see the connection between the dream feelings and his everyday life. Making such connections may take practice. But the situation could as easily be expressed as a dream image of a blocked river. The underlying feelings would then be less easy to grasp.

Example: ‘I was in a very ancient crumbling building, confronted by a large stone door, deeply engraved with many designs and creatures. I began to open the door and felt high feelings of anxiety. I realised this was an initiation and I must calm my feelings in order to pass beyond the door. i.e. if I were controlled by my feelings I would run away.’ Derek F.

How we meet the emotions in our dreams illustrates our habitual method of dealing with them. The feelings of anxiety in Derek’s dream were met and moved beyond, but this is unusual. This is because most of us change our direction as soon as there is a hint of fear. The amount of nicotine and alcohol human beings consume suggests how poorly we meet anxiety, considering that both these drugs inhibit feelings, and thereby deaden anxiety. Going beyond fear or pain is an initiation which opens doors for us. We might now apply for the job; ask for the date; raise the issue; express the creativity; make the journey abroad, which anxiety previously kept us from. We see this in the next example.

Example: ‘I had a ring on my marriage finger. It was a thin band of gold. I woke up frightened. Angela LBC.

Angela is not married and feels obvious anxiety about the commitment.

Dreams give us a safe area to express emotions which might be difficult or dangerous to release socially. Anger in a dream may be expressing what we failed to discharge in a waking encounter, or it might be our habitual response. It may also be directed against oneself, causing illness or tension.

Dreams also contain many positive emotions. Sometimes they present a new aspect of feeling which is life enhancing. In the example below the dreamer overcomes the feeling of defeat and death, and in imagery expresses a sense of rebirth.

Example: While heavily pregnant 11 years ago I dreamt I and thousands of Japanese-like soldiers had been at war and lost. Our punishment was beheading. Not wanting to see my comrades killed I went to the front. I felt the cold blade hit my neck, then was dead, outside my body. Dressed in golden armour with a lion symbol I told my comrades they outnumbered the enemy. They won and took my baby from my dead body. BMW – Southport.

Some feeling states in a dream are subtle, and may be more evident in terms of the symbols than the feelings. A grey drear environment suggests depression and lack of pleasure. A sunny light environment with flowers and colour shows pleasure and good feelings. A country landscape depicts quite a different feeling state to a smoky busy city street. We can define these for ourselves using the techniques described under Secrets of Power Dreaming

Whatever feelings or emotions we meet in our dreams, many of them are bound to be habitual responses we have to life. Where these habits are negative we can begin to change them by working with the dream images.

Here is a man’s description of the sort of emotions felt in exploring a dream.

As this came out I started crying from a deep emotion. But right away the feeling was so deep only deep agonised groans of pain could come out. So much agony came out my body was paralysed into silent paralysis with it. I have had a lot of sessions where I have exploded with pain. But this was deep, silent, struggling with pain. My body flayed and contorting with it, my nose clogged with mucus. Gradually it broke up and I cried out with it, deep, sobbing, long held pain. The words came out of me, “I did it. I did it. Love. I killed it. So much pain. So much of it, because I killed love.”


-Allina 2015-11-18 3:42:29

I am trying to find some meaning to a dream I had last night. I have been in an intense emotional state all day and am hopeful someone can confirm that I did in fact have a visit from my deceased husband. He died suddenly and unexpectedly about 8 months ago. I have had several dreams of him since then but he has always been more of a presence and I couldn’t see him, last night I actually saw him, felt him. He was whole and happy and he gave me a big hug. I cried teas of joy at seeing him. I knew he had to go but wasn’t sad and I told him I have missed him and he said he knew and hugged me again. I woke up feeling so comforted and relieved that he knew how much we loved him and how missed he was. I have had a hard time dealing with the loss and have grieved the fact that we had him cremated instead of burrying him, he had an autopsy and was an organ donor so I have these horrible intrusions of his body being butchered and he may be upset over it. We weren’t anywhere specific but it was bright and he was dressed in a solid light gray – almost white but it was gray… I got the sense he knew how sad I have been and was there to comfort me and let me know he is still here with us. Can you please comment on your thoughts.

    -Tony Crisp 2015-11-18 9:58:41

    Allina – Dear woman, his body is rather like a vehicle he used, a car, to gather experiences, and when he no longer needed it there was not harm to him in using spare parts.

    The feelings you felt about him, the joy and comfort were real. And you should have no doubts about the fact he was with you and shared his presence.

    Also it is not really sensible to grieve the loss, because he is now more fully with you than ever before. After death we are fully and always connected to those we love, and your grief is often a pain felt by those who have died Maybe that was why he was dressed in light grey.

    Please read http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/near-death-experiences/

    But also read Lynn Russell’s book “The Wonder of You: What the Near Death Experience Tells You About Yourself”. It gives so much information that will be a constant support to you.


-gracie rivera 2015-10-28 2:28:25

I’m in a car with rene he is driving and I’m in the passenger side now he is looking at me with anger in his face he is not paying attention to the road and I’m feeling scared now he says to me while looking at me and hitting the steering wheel why did you leave me to go back with him now i say throwing up my arms as if trying to convince him I said I left you because you never said anything to me as if he never told me he had feelings for me now the rd was a two lane expressway under construction and a semi trailer is passing us up like it gets real close to me so a I’m afraid so i put my arms up to like block from it hitting me now i look at him and he has like a smile on his face now all of sudden i feel like the road turns into a roller coaster I’m going up and down we finally stop

-bob 2014-07-20 5:20:29

hi i think this website really help me so thank you !

-vinny 2012-12-16 20:26:54

fuck this

-vinny 2012-12-16 20:25:05


-skygem13@yahoo.com.ph 2012-05-07 7:38:57

super power dreams

    -Tony Crisp 2012-05-09 10:21:46

    Thanks. I often tend to look at the page you mentioned, and have now added a bit to it at the end.


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