Dreaming of Falling And What It Means

5 min read

Last Modified 18 May 2022 First Added 4 October 2021

By Liam Porter

Falling dreams are quite common and can be linked to anything that is subject to falling or going up and down – finances, stocks, status, relationships, expectations. Dreaming about falling tends to signify a loss of control over an important situation.

“It also indicates fear, terror, and anxiety that comes out of losing grip over significant things,” says Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, M.D., a certified psychiatrist. The feeling of falling may represent a sense of helplessness. However, you’ll be able to interpret your dream more accurately if you take a few other clues into account, such as where you’re falling from, why, and how it makes you feel.

Science behind falling dreams

Dreaming of falling in your sleep is one of the ‘motifs’ identified by Carl Jung in Man and His Symbols, which he relates to the myth of Icarus. While his interpretation of falling dreams is interesting, it’s the way the dream is contextualised, which is the most interesting part of Jung’s interpretation.

The general function of dreams is to try to restore our psychological balance by producing dream material that re-establishes, in a subtle way, the total psychic equilibrium. It explains why people who have unrealistic ideas or too high an opinion of themselves, or who make grand plans that are out of proportion to their real capabilities, have dreams of flying or falling. The dream compensates for the deficiencies of their personalities, while warning them of the dangers in their present course. If the warnings of the dream are disregarded, real accidents may take their place. The victim may fall downstairs or may have a car accident.

While it is a step or two removed from accepted science, Jung believes that the unconscious communicates with a specific intent, with a meaning that must be deciphered. He says:

But I must stress again that these are motifs that must be considered in the context of the dream itself, not as self-explanatory ciphers.

It’s this need to be decoded that’s at the root of all dream analysis – and the fear of falling features in most texts on the subject. While Jung considered these dreams as a warning that our reach may have extended our grasp, other interpretations see it as indicative of an unacknowledged feeling of having lost control in one or more aspects of our lives.

There are no prizes for guessing what meaning Jung’s contemporary and mentor Freud ascribes to dreams of falling. He believes them to be inherently sexual, with the falling being a falling-from-grace. But while Freud was very much a man of his era, modern cultural interpretations see the fall as relating to the person’s finances, and the inevitable impact that continued mismanagement may lead to.

Variations of falling dreams:

Dreams of falling come in many forms. There are those where the dreamer never falls from something but is instead falling throughout the dream. There are falls from trees, cliffs, buildings, or in a lift. Each type of falling dream has its own meaning, which we will uncover for you to understand what is the meaning behind your falling dream?

1. Falling from a cliff

Falling from a cliff in your dream would indicate you being stressed over something or someone. The very physical loss of contact with something in our falling dreams represents a more figurative loss of contact in the waking world. Whether this represents losing contact with friends or family after a move, or that you feel like an aspiration is becoming unattainable, the fall from a cliff could indicate that special attention is paid to such things.

2. Dreams of tripping

Dreams of tripping can represent a fear of falling behind. Whether this is at work and in life more generally, trips represent setbacks or fear of making a mistake. We often use the term ‘slip up’ or ‘tripped up’ when we’ve made a mistake, which is closely connected to the dream meaning.
Read our Being Chased In Your Dream blog post to find out other forms of dream meanings

3. Falling from the sky

Falling from the sky typically represents a sense of being out of control and may indicate that you are worried or torn between something. This type of dream is most likely to happen when you’re going through a major life change. Dorothy Chambers, a sleep expert from Sleep Junkie says  “A slow fall from a high place can indicate that you are between crossroads and can’t make a decision”

4. Falling in a lift, or down a lift shaft

Probably the most troubling of the falling dreams, and the one demanding the most thorough inspection, the combination of a loss of control and of being confined can indicate severe loss of self-esteem, control or a plunging mood.

Answering the dream

Many of the falling dream meanings seem to imply that there is an unacknowledged loss of control causing subconscious anxiety. For that reason, reflection on what that loss of control could be will be the best response.

Flying In Your Dream

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