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Being Chased in a Dream: Common & Unexpected Meanings

Karen Frazier
Businessman with briefcase on salt flats being chased by second businessman

In surveys, being chased in a dream typically falls within the top 10 most common dream themes. But just because dreams of being chased are common, it doesn't make them feel any less disturbing. Chase dreams often leave the dreamer feeling stressed and anxious, which actually provides a clue to meaning of such dreams.

Being Chased in a Dream Common Meaning

When you dream of being chased, your subconscious is telling you that you are avoiding something important in your waking life. This might be an issue (such as a health or financial problem), a stressful situation, a specific person, or even a basic truth about yourself, someone else, or your life in general. Because you are suppressing or ignoring something important in your waking life, your subconscious tries to nudge you with the dream's content while you sleep.

Understanding Your Dreams of Being Chased

To better understand what this issue might be, you may need to look at the other dream symbols for insight. The best way to do this is to write down your dreams as soon as you wake from them including as much detail as possible. You can keep a pad of paper and a pen next to the bed, or use a voice recorder or dream journal. Then, use a dream dictionary to look up what the various symbols mean.

What Do You Think Your Chase Dream Means?

Before looking at the symbols, however, ask yourself this: what do I think my chase dream means? If you think you know what your dream means, chances are you're right. For some people, this is the only step they need to take to better understand why they're fleeing for their lives while they sleep. Many people intuitively understand what a chase dream is telling them, and it only takes a few minutes of introspection to suss out the meaning. If, after considering your own insights, you still find yourself in the dark as to the meaning of your dream about being chased, then ask yourself the following questions.

Who or What Is Chasing You?

Are you aware in the dream of who or what you're running from? Whoever or whatever is chasing you can help you decipher exactly what in your waking life you're avoiding.

  • If you are being chased by a shadow, something that is dark in color, or someone with darker coloring or clothing than yours, then chances are the dream is telling you that you are running away from some part of yourself you have disowned (your shadow self).
  • If you are being chased by aliens, the dream is suggesting that you are avoiding something that feels foreign or alien. This may indicate you are stressed about changes in your life and dodging your feelings about those changes (or resisting making them altogether).
  • Being chased by a mob may indicate you are avoiding sorting through physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual chaos (so it could be a cluttered basement, or it could be chaotic emotions), or it may be a manifestation of social anxiety.
  • If a monster is chasing you, you're likely avoiding some aspect of yourself you find ugly or undesirable, such as negative behaviors.
  • If a killer is chasing you, it's possible you are avoiding some emotion you have refused to allow yourself to feel.
  • If you're being chased by something you fear, such as spiders or snakes, the dream may simply be a manifestation of that phobia.
  • If your pursuer is someone in your life who scares you, then the dream may literally be telling you that you're avoiding that person.
  • If your pursuer is someone who has actually chased you at some point, then the dream may be a manifestation of past trauma.
A silhouette of a person outside a window

Where Are You Being Chased?

A dream's setting, or where it occurs, can tell you much about the dream's meaning. Therefore, pay attention to where you're being chased.

  • A chase through a darkened or underground location such as a basement suggests you are avoiding confronting your personal shadow self.
  • Being chased through a hospital or doctor's office suggests you are avoiding dealing with some aspect of your health.
  • Fleeing through a school suggests you are avoiding learning an important lesson.
  • Being chased through water means you are avoiding your emotions.
  • Running through a shopping center (a mall, a store, a supermarket, etc.) suggests you are avoiding making an important choice.
  • A chase in a forest suggests you are avoiding better understanding yourself.
  • Being pursued through a travel location such as an airport, hotel, or foreign city suggests you are resisting making an important transition in your life.
  • Being chased in flight indicates you are avoiding reaching for your aspirations and goals.
  • Fleeing through a restaurant or a kitchen suggests avoidance of those things that nourish you physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually.
  • A chase through your home may represent you are avoiding things that bring you comfort.
  • Being chased in a church suggests you are avoiding some important aspect of your spiritual development.
Men in black suits running on walkway, low angle view

Are You on Foot or in a Vehicle?

A majority of chase dreams have you fleeing on foot, but in some, you're in a vehicle while you're being chased.

  • If you are running on foot, it suggests you are avoiding your responsibilities in some way.
  • If you are driving a vehicle to get away, it suggests you're seeking more control in your life through your avoidance of the issue.
  • If someone else is driving the vehicle as it flees its pursuer, then it suggests you feel completely out of control of whatever it is you're avoiding.

How Fast Are You Running?

Your speed also can offer clues.

  • If you are trying to run, but you can't go as quickly as you wish (or you can't move at all or are moving in slow motion), this indicates you are avoiding the issue because you lack confidence to do anything about it.
  • If you are being overtaken by your pursuer, it means you are starting to feel overwhelmed by that which you are avoiding, and you need to confront it in order to make the issue go away.
  • If you are running fast and staying well ahead of your pursuer, it suggests you aren't yet feeling completely overwhelmed by what you've avoiding, and chances are your avoidance strategies are working for the moment.

Alternative Meanings for Chase Dreams

Other possible meanings for chase dreams include the following:

  • You're feeling afraid of something in your life.
  • You lack self-confidence.
  • You have real-life fears of being chased or attacked in some way.
  • You're feeling vulnerable in some aspect of your life.
  • You're running away from yourself.
  • You feel the need to distance yourself from something or someone.
Man trying to catch his shadow

What if You Get Caught?

If your pursuer catches you, your subconscious is communicating that you no longer have the option of avoiding whatever it is you are running from. It's time to turn and face it before it overtakes you.

What if You're the Chaser?

If you're the one doing the chasing in your dream, it can have a few different meanings including:

  • You are willing to pursue the things you want in life.
  • You feel you're falling behind in some aspect of your life.
  • You need to catch up to someone or something important.

Putting an End to Chase Dreams

With some practice, you can begin to control the content of your dreams through a process called lucid dreaming. If you notice you're in a chase dream and recognize you're dreaming, see if you can stop, face your pursuer, and ask why they're chasing you. It's the fastest way to understand what you're avoiding. However, if you can't do this in your dream, then the best way to make chase dreams stop is by confronting that which you're avoiding in your waking life.

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Being Chased in a Dream: Common & Unexpected Meanings