What Do Dreams of Being Lost Mean?
7 min read
Last Modified 8 December 2022 First Added 16 May 2022
Do you often have dreams or even nightmares about being lost? If so don’t worry, it’s an extremely common theme at bedtime. Fortunately, getting lost in real life is now fairly rare thanks to the advent of Satnav and having maps always available on our phones. Unfortunately, these may not be with us while we’re dreaming!
When you dream of being lost, you may be on your way to work, coming home, or in some other unfamiliar landscape. Dreams about being lost can mean lots of different things depending upon the dream scenarios. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.
Today’s the day of the big interview. It’s for your dream job and you’re on the way to the venue deep in the British countryside. It’s now just 20 minutes before the appointment.
Annoyingly, your smartphone’s broken so you’ve had to dig out a road map; remember them? Time passes, you keep on driving but you start to worry you’re not getting any closer to the interview destination. Zipping around the same roundabouts again and again, you keep seeing the same familiar landmarks passing by. Face it, you’re completely lost!
You’re now late, anxious and upset. There’s no chance you’ll make the interview and there’s no way to let them know you’re on the way. How could this get any worse? Then you wake up and recognise exactly where you are – at home in bed. It was all just a dream. But just what could it mean?
If you ever have this dream it certainly doesn’t mean you’re set to lose your way in waking life. It’s really more an indication that you’re in need of some guidance in life, or you’re feeling unstable and insecure.
Depending on the context of the dream, dreaming about being lost can mean a whole variety of different things. There are quite a few meanings connected to being lost in your dreams, for instance, a non-specific dream of being lost is usually associated with a loss of something purposeful or the inability to fulfil something.
Cathleen O’Connor, Ph.D., author of The Everything Law of Attraction Dream Dictionary, told HuffPost, “Dreams about being lost or searching for something that is lost usually denote anxiety. They evoke feelings of confusion and frustration, or even a sense of feeling you don’t fit in.”
There are just as many ways to get lost in our dreams as there are in waking life and all of them have very different implications. From dreaming of being lost in the dark, to being lost trying to find your way home, being stuck in a forest and asking for directions.
Here we explore what it means to dream and the meanings behind the most common of these dreams.
Dreaming of being lost in a forest can be disturbing and scary, especially if the forest is dark and eerie. The Dream Bible reports that this type of dream may signify feelings of confusion, fear, and despair. A dream of being lost in a forest may also represent the inability to rectify a situation, the lack of support in your life, and perhaps, a feeling that you have lost your way. According to DreamsO’pedia, dreaming about being lost in a forest may also be a sign of encouragement to continue your work and your ability to overcome challenges.
If you get lost in the dark in a dream this can symbolise feelings of guilt or a breakdown of a plan, says Dreams Directory. You may be getting caught up in your own guilt and have been holding back some negative emotions and thoughts for too long. This dream is also said to be about the darker aspects of your character.
Have you ever asked for directions in a dream? If so, you’re confronting some uncomfortable emotions. You’re in search of some help or advice for a problem or decision. The dream reveals your desire to attain a balance in your life. Perhaps you need to show more passion or be more open with your emotions.
Following directions in a dream, particularly in searching for an address, is commonly said to mean you should be open to opinions and criticism from people you don’t normally talk to. On the other hand, if you’re the one giving directions to someone else this is said to mean that setting and managing your priorities should be your main objectives.
Becoming lost in a sea of people, with familiar faces or complete strangers surrounding you is a common dream that can take place in a strange place, or even in your home. This dream may cause confusion and distress, and you might wake up feeling uneasy. It can highlight insecurities about your social relationships, or that you’re feeling backed into a corner by someone close.
So what are the most important issues that this kind of dream can bring to light? Dreams about being lost or searching for something you’ve lost usually represent anxiety, arousing confusion, frustration, or even a sense of feeling that you’re an outsider. And this applies at any age.
According to dream expert Cathleen O’Connor, school-age children often dream of being lost in school, unable to find their classroom or locker. Adult versions of the same dream might find the dreamer searching for where he parked his car or for a report needed for an important work meeting.
“Usually, the meaning has to do with a current situation in your life where you are anxious that you will not find your way – perhaps a new job where you feel your skills are not optimal, a move to a new city where you are anxious about fitting in and making new friends or perhaps an important task at work with a deadline looming,” says O’Connor.
Looking past the analysis, what cultural symbolism can be found in the human condition of being lost? Everyone can relate to the feelings of fear and helplessness closely associated with the idea of being unable to find our way back home, so the notion of being lost is one that features heavily in books, television and music.
For a few years back in the Noughties, it felt like the whole nation was obsessed with Lost, the critically acclaimed hit US TV series. A fantastical dream-like tale of the survivors of a commercial jet airliner flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, it shows events both before and after the plane crashes on a mysterious island somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. Lost ran from 2004 to 2010 and critics hailed it as being among the greatest television series of all time, indeed “the show with perhaps the most compelling continuing storyline in television history,” according to the New York Times.
Another cultural phenomenon about getting lost was Lost in Space, the smash science fiction television series, which originally aired between 1965 and 1968 before being made into a film starring Gary Oldman and Matt LeBlanc in the late 90s. The series was inspired by the novel The Swiss Family Robinson and follows the adventures of the Robinsons, a pioneering family of space colonists who struggle to survive lost in the depths of space.