Nightmares of being pursued are extremely common. There are a lot of ways to analyze the dream state and symbols, but basically it's a way to act out themes to help you learn and make sense of things. They are sort of like subconscious hints.
For example, decades ago I kept having repeat nightmares of a tornado chasing me. No matter where I ran, the tornado found me. I couldn't shake it.
Eventually, I started to find shelter in closets, behind boulders, anywhere I thought might be safer than just running.
Finally, at one point, I saw the tornado bearing down on me. I looked around me. I saw a manhole cover. I opened it up, climbed down inside, and it couldn't get me.
After that, I never had the nightmare ever again.
What happened? Why?
Let's look at my life at the time of these nightmares. My marriage was miserable, getting worse by the day, but I didn't know what to do so I promised myself it could only get better.
This is the period of time in which I was having the nightmare of running and running but the tornado chasing me down.
The marriage didn't get better and I couldn't run from it. At this next point, I began to question if I could continue the marriage as there was a great deal of buried hostility. I began to develop my own life outside of the marriage by making new friends, going out with them, taking road trips, building a blog. I figured I'd be happier in the marriage if, like him, I was gone a lot of the time. But the problems remained. And the nightmares had me hiding from the tornado. I was trying to not be seen, not be found, and maybe it wouldn't find me. But it did.
Eventually, I decided upon divorce when I tried everything I could think of, even therapy. The day I said in therapy I was 100% sure I was leaving the marriage, I had my last tornado dream. I went down a manhole. It couldn't get me.
I never dreamed it again.
So, what do these kinds of dreams teach us? They are actually not exercises in stress release so much as an opportunity to gain insight.
Listen closely and I will tell you the "one thing."
Don't focus on the crazy plot or it's bizarre elements. What you need to focus on is - no matter what was thrown at you, how did you handle it?
That is your insight into where you are right now. Did you have absolute terror and brain freeze or did you outsmart and outwit?
It's like your psyche says, "hey, he's sleeping, let's give him an exercise." And suddenly your subconscious is challenged with a scenario in which a rabid pig is chasing you through a thicket, branches and briars grabbing hold of your jacket.
Sometimes, it's like the dream state is like a mental obstacle course in which you either give up the challenge, try to back out of it, tackle it with lots of things holding you back like running in place, forgetting your locker number, being nude in public....
So, when you get those nightmares, don't worry that a dragonfly shot missiles at you while wearing a pink tutu. Instead, focus on your reaction to such an assault. Now, you know where you stand emotionally and mentally at this time in your life.
And that clue can unlock growth and fortitude.
Movies With Nightmares
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Before I wake
Stir of Echoes
The Woman in Black
What Lies Beneath
The Evil Dead
The Amityville Horror