Dream Interpretation › Falling

Falling - Dream meaning and symbolism

Falling girl

Main symbolic meaning

Failure

Falling in your dream can be a reminiscence about the ancient times, when our ancestors climbed trees and accidentally fell down to the ground, what was painful and sometimes also fatal. Thus falling in dream may be symbolic for being afraid of "losing the grip".

Training ground

Sometimes it is very useful to have dreams about falling down, even if they are frightening or unpleasant, because they offer a virtual training ground for mastering your fears. When you dream of falling, it may be some exceptional kind of "exercise" that allows you to face your fear without any real danger. In the worst case you can always wake up. It is similar as the training for pilots: they also use the virtual aviation simulation to get prepared for the real flight.

Unsettling unconscious

The dream of falling may be a pictorial metaphor for the fall from the high intellectual or rational realms: the fall of the "head" to the unknown depth of the "heart". It is a symbol of the fast descent into unconscious, because this mental space is ruled by other laws,  that may seem scary on the first sight (sexual passion, sincere hate, envy, absolute truthfulness etc.)

Relaxation and opportunities

People are often very stressed and tense during the day; sometimes to such extent, that they are unable to recognize important opportunities. The meaning of the falling in your dream can be in fact translated to "relieve". The message may sound: "Just let it go, relax and leave things as they are and you will see new opportunities and find new motivation". The release of the accumulated stress is often accompanied by the relaxation of the muscles. Legs and arms are sinking lower into bed and that may also cause the feeling of falling (by the way therefore we say "falling asleep").

Loss of self-confidence or unjustifiable pride

The modern society forces many people to overestimate themselves. The loss (or the fear of the loss) of self-confidence may resemble the story of Icarus who flew too close to the sun and fell down into the ocean, because his wings made from feathers and wax melted in the heat. The fall may have also other very similar meanings: the symbolic loss of security, financial loss, career crash, social or moral decline, end of love etc. To dream of falling may as well accompany the period, when you stop taking drugs or drinking alcohol and you have to face the naked reality ("the heavenly party is over").

Return to childhood

Other symbolic explanation may be related to the childhood, to the time when we were small, dependent and afraid of being dropped, or when we were also learning to walk. The carousel of repeated falling and standing up was inevitable at that time. In such case the meaning of such dream is the actualization of such memory and the virtual return to childhood.

Falling girl

Dream meaning

Falling off a cliff

The edge of a cliff is symbolic for some threshold situation. It is the border between the solid ground and the unknown or uncertain "thin air". Below the cliff is usually the ocean (water as a symbol of your emotions). Falling off a cliff in your dream means to exceed the very delicate safe line between the solid, rational and familiar part of the world and embark on a deeply emotional or spiritual journey.

Falling down stairs

The symbolic meaning of stairs is usually the steady progress to higher level of awareness or better social status. Thus falling down stairs in your dream is symbolic for the reverse process – worries about being fired from the actual well paid and prestigious job, anxiety of losing the obtained social status, concerns about the decline of excellent appearance or moral value ("what others think about you, how they look at you") etc. In the spiritual sense falling down stairs is symbolic for the return where you have already been. You should ask yourself if the stairway is leading you to the proper destination: Are your goals realistic? Are you heading towards adequate challenges (are they not too intellectual, demanding or impersonal)?   

Window

Windows are symbolic for the potential to clearly see through the limitations and obstacles (the solid wall all around). The window represent an individual viewpoint, statement or attitude. Than falling from the window in your dream may have the meaning close to: "your opinion is sharp and dangerous as the razor's edge" or "in your effort to get the best possible viewpoint, stand or position you are losing the necessary solid ground (due to the competition or because of reasons of prestige)".

Rooftop

Roof is the secure ending of every building. It is a necessary protection against the rain and other  natural elements, but it is also the product of human intellectual endeavour (in comparison to the cliff, which is completely natural, roof is in fact always artificial). When you are on the rooftop, you have symbolically reached the top of human's effort in the rational (i.e. construction engineering) sphere, but despite of such luck you do not feel the inner fulfilment one would expect and therefore you are slipping and falling into the lower levels of more emotional being (i.e. fine arts).

Plane falling from the sky

The meaning of a plane occurring in your dream is usually typical for the ability to develop or use efficient solutions for various problems – in other words: to bound and shape the powers with your intellect into a precise tool. A tool that is able to manage and direct tasks in the most productive way, similarly as the plane itself is the most effective tool for moving people and cargo from A to B in the air. When you have a dream about the falling plane it is a signal that some from that highly practical, rational and powerful mechanisms is failing (or you are anticipating the failure in the dream). It may be your well started but not very fulfilling career, it may be the marriage of convenience, it may be some agreement or enterprise that is going wrong. 

Falling in an Elevator

An elevator ("lift") is the symbolic representation of the bond between spiritual and material realm or an elevator can mirror one's social or professional growth. But elevator is different from stairs or ladder because the real ascent is not a genuine consequence of your own effort (to climb the ladder or the stairs needs much more energy and action from everyone than simply pushing a button). Therefore the symbolic meaning of elevators is the growth by "a good fortune" or thanks to "the effort of others" rather thanks to your own activity. Dreaming of a falling elevator means to perceive such external "helping hand" is failing in your life. In such case you have to concentrate more on your own strength and not rely so much on others.
But do not forget that sometimes an elevator has no symbolic meaning at all – if you are claustrophobic and afraid of falling in an elevator even in the waking life, it is highly possible that the dream gives you only the training ground to slowly get used to your anxiety.

Falling teeth

The main symbolic meaning of experiencing falling teeth in your dreams is usually closely connected with a profound change or transformation in your life. More in this separate article.

Ladder

Ladder is a special means of climbing up. It is flexible (in comparison to solid stairs you can easily move it elsewhere) and it requires using your own forces to get on the top. Dreaming of falling of a ladder means to feel the insecurity or at least the very low stability in your effort to achieve higher goals primarily by relying only on yourself. The Jacob's Ladder is a Biblical narrative that can bring you also some useful insight into the symbolic meaning of the ladder – the spiritual connection between the earth and heaven.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Fall Of Icarus
Peter Paul Rubens, The Fall Of Icarus, 1636
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Fall of the Rebel Angels
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Fall of the Rebel Angels, 1562
Falling horse
Falling horse photography

Art

To take a look on art can be very helpful for finding the inspiration when exploring and interpreting your dream.

Video

Editors note: When I was looking for some suitable illustrative video footage to support the overall atmosphere of this article I was a bit surprised and sometimes even shocked how much are people able to hazard with such precious and rare commodity as is one's own life. I am used to see regularly the flood of mobile phone drop tests  as new models of iPhone and Samsung are released every year. They are easily replaceable. But you cannot buy second life as new batteries, broken glass or exchange missing health for some obtained points in a videogame.
It is also worth noticing that there very few paintings and sculptures with the topic of falling. Obviously life was truly hard for many centuries and people had other more serious occupations than to hazard and search the easiest way to self-destroying. Nevertheless, I picked up few YouTube samples that I found interesting from various reasons. But when you look on them you will find that the overall craving for adrenalin is clearly beating the pure misfortune or unintentional fall accidents