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Emotions in Dreams – What Do They Symbolize?

In dreams, it’s common to experience events in different ways than when you’re awake. The way we feel in the dream and the emotions that certain events provoke are widely regarded as key to understanding the deeper meaning of our dreams. Although you may not realize it, the emotions you experience in your dreamscape can affect the dream’s meaning.

What are the emotions we feel in dreams?

What Do Emotions in Dreams Mean?


Shame is an emotion that we generally like to avoid but when it occurs in dreams, you just have to face it.  Researchers say that shame needs three things to thrive: silence, judgment, and secrecy. Without these three things, shame ceases to exist.

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If you dream of something that makes you feel embarrassed, it could mean that your subconscious mind is trying to help you to deal with a shameful experience in your waking life. For example, it’s common to dream about feeling ashamed of yourself or your body if someone in your waking life has been body-shaming you.

These kinds of dreams could highlight an unconscious need to protect yourself from emotional stress. Dreams in which you feel shame can also mean that there are threats in your surrounding environment that you need to protect yourself from.


Disgust may appear in dreams if you’re undergoing a process of change, or when you or something in your waking life needs to change. If you find yourself feeling disgusted in a dream, try to identify exactly what it is that’s making you feel this way.

Feeling physically ill as a result of disgust can mean that you’re stifling the impulse to rid yourself of certain negative habits, ideas, or thought patterns. Feeling disgusted and vomiting in a dream symbolizes cleansing yourself spiritually and eliminating things in your life that you don’t need anymore.

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If the disgust you feel is solely emotional, with no external indication, it may suggest that your environment is unsafe, or that you’re not quite ready to deal with certain issues or people in your life. It can also mean that your level of tolerance is nearly at its peak. Simply put, disgust in dreams can be a warning that something is not quite right and to keep an eye open for it.

Anxiety and Fear

Anxiety dreams can be extremely unpleasant and cause you distress. As a result, you may wake up feeling panicked, nervous, or stressed. If you’re dealing with issues in life that are causing you anxiety, it can creep into your dreams.  Negative thoughts can influence the type of dream you have so if you’ve been stressing and worrying about something at work all day, it’s likely that your dreams will reflect this.

Experiencing anxiety in a dream could mean that there’s something troubling you just below the surface of consciousness which demands your attention. Interpreting these kinds of dreams can be a challenge, but if you look at what is hinted at in the dream, it can be easier.

The anxiety you feel in your dreams may be persistent underlying thoughts that can cause you pain and suffering, such as addictive tendencies or other persistent forms of anxiety.


Feeling sadness

Sadness in dreams often means that you’re feeling heightened emotionalism in your current life, emotions powerful enough that they show up in your dreams. This is especially true if you cry in your dream.

Tears are the liquid expressions of our deepest emotions squeezed out of our bodies. If you see someone else crying in your dream, that person could be an avatar for a part of your personality that’s undergoing a powerful emotional process.

According to Carl Jung, the female psyche has a masculine image called the animus while the male psyche has a feminine image called the anima.  In dreams, just as in life, expressing sadness is a healthy way of processing grief and welcoming transformation. However, society tends to frown upon men expressing their emotions. Therefore, the anima takes over in safe environments such as in dreamscapes where it allows the expression of emotions such as sadness without fear of being judged.

To dream that you’re feeling sad about something suggests that you may need to learn how to cope with disappointments and try to see the world from a positive angle. It can be easy to dwell on the negative but continuing to do so could affect your life negatively. Your subconscious mind could be trying to give you a sign that it’s time to move on, leaving the past behind you.


Dreaming of lust

In dreams, lust is most often associated with connection and integration and has nothing to do with sex itself. Jung’s interpretation connects lustful dreams to cosmic iconography, the coniunctio or hieros gamos (sacred marriage), two topics that appear profusely in alchemical texts. When one person lusts for another, they try to get as close to the other person as they possibly can.

Sex is symbolic of the process of integration, so if you eliminate any personal projections that come up around sex and how it was played out in your dream, its interpretation could rise above any potential embarrassment or shame. Although it’s sometimes more difficult to accept, this also applies to sexual encounters that have societal taboos associated with them, such as those involving incestuous relationships or illegal activities.

If you feel lust for someone in a dream, the person you’re lusting for may represent a character aspect that you need to integrate into your personality. Lust in a dream may imply that you have to combine different skills in order to empower yourself and become more effective.


If you’re experiencing extreme stress or sadness in your life, seeing a dream in which you feel joy may sound counterintuitive but can be surprisingly common. This often happens to those who try to avoid reality and rely on wishful thinking to get them through the day.

A joyful dream could also reflect the joy you currently feel in your waking life. Perhaps things have taken a turn for the better and you’ve sorted out any problems you may have had. You may not be worrying anymore and feel a sense of relief.


Dreaming of anger

In dreams, anger most commonly tends to manifest due to impotence in certain situations which can leave the dreamer feeling helpless. For example, if someone says or does something mean to you in a dream, you may feel anger or even hatred.

If you dream of being extremely angry, it represents that you’ve become aware of the frustration that you’ve been suppressing for a long time. It could also signify a characteristic in yourself that you may dislike or even feel guilty about. Feeling anger in dreams can also reflect an assertive stance towards certain problems that you may have previously been quite passive about.

It’s said that men tend to experience anger and aggression.  in dreams far more often than women do which is most probably because women are more open about their concerns and problems in their waking life. Those who struggle with financial difficulties are also likely to become angry or violent in their dreams.

Yelling or having heated arguments in a dream is an indication that what’s taking place has a heightened level of importance. This is also a typical dream image when the dreamer is processing deep-seated rage. Often, the desire to express anger is present but the voice is unable to respond, and the dreamer is left feeling shut down by the overwhelming experience. This image in a dream is a reflection of how rage can be crippling, and must therefore be examined, processed, and released.

Wrapping Up

When you experience certain emotions in your waking life, you often feel these emotions in your dreams as well. If you have trouble expressing your emotions freely when you’re awake, you may express them easily in your dreams. These emotions could be warnings of certain changes and transformations that are currently taking place or that need to happen in order to improve your quality of life.

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Apsara Palit
Apsara Palit

After completing her post-grad in Values, Ethics and Indian Culture, Apsara is sharing her knowledge of symbolism, mythology, history and culture through her blogs. Apsara lives in India and believes in getting a first-hand understanding of culture through travelling.