Dreaming Of Someone Holding You Down Meaning

One of the most stressful types of dreams involves some physical limitation in your sleep. Dreaming of someone holding you down meaning to do you harm can feel quite paralyzing on so many levels.

Either you can’t move your body, or you cannot physically leave a place.

This is even worse when you want to move, but you get the feeling that someone is preventing you. It may seem like they’re holding you down in the dream, restraining you, or somehow keeping you in place.

Sleep tight. Sleep tight. Your mind may be telling you that something is wrong.

A lot of people think that there is some secret dream language that they experience when they are asleep. While they’re sleeping at night, their mind tries to tell them certain things about their waking lives.

There’s a lot of history related to this idea. In fact, the Father of Modern Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, wrote quite a number of materials regarding the subconscious mind and its relationship to dreams.

The central questions—of course—are, “What is your subconscious mind telling you? What do your dreams mean?”

The problem with such attempts is that these efforts were positioned as an exact science.

The False Security of Science and Dreams

When people look for a scientific explanation for things that they perceive with their subconscious, they step into a trap. While it may sound like good advice to rationally dissect our dreams, our modern expectation of science usually insists that some things are just absolutely true.

We’re told that the things we see in our sleep can be reduced to “symptoms” or some formula. This suggests that there’s a level of predictability to our dream life.

This is the furthest thing from dreams and their meanings.

When you’re dealing with the “sleeping mind,” all bets are off. One person’s dream could not be watered down to just a couple of symptoms or even a disorder.

A dream consists of thoughts and memories from your life while both asleep and awake. There are a lot of emotions and past experiences that fall in between these extremes. How does one make sense of all of that without leading one’s self to more confusion?

The usual comment would recommend approaching all of this from some “scientific point of view.” Unfortunately, we now know that this move will fall short. It may even be considered by others to be entirely useless.

This worldview is very limited. It cannot account for every sign in life that your mind processes when you’re awake and even when you’re sleeping at night. I’m talking about things that you see, hear, smell, taste, touch, or generally any stimuli you observe with your body.

What Is Your “Sleeping Mind” Trying to Tell You in Your Dream?

When your mind tries to speak to you in the form of a dream, it’s communicating everything that tends to occur in your life.

A lot of professional therapists comment that your dream is related to the many ways your mind could speak to you, especially at night when you’re asleep. Dreams may not be front and center, but they speak to everything in your life.

This should not come as a surprise because the part of our minds that is below consciousness yet ever perceiving speaks to us in the form of dreams.

What Is the Relationship Between Your Waking Mind and Your Dream?

There is such a thing as infinite intelligence, and it’s not what you think.

Usually, when people try to explain intelligence, they comment on one’s ability to take in information and articulate it in a way that people could understand.

While that is a very important part of intelligence, it is by no means the complete picture.

When it comes to figuring out what it means to have your body be restricted or even imprisoned in your dream, the intelligence approach comes short.

The Key Is to Focus on Your Experiences in Life

When you are trying to understand a dream where somebody’s holding you down or keeping you in a very small space, you have to pay close attention to the details that are not there just as much as the ones that are present.

It’s easy to freak out when our body is restrained in some way or another. There’s a feeling of oppression because we’re not free. It’s not like we could leave or move around.

You exhibit a lot of symptoms of stress. Maybe you’re sweating, or you’re afraid of falling? Maybe you’re afraid that it’s night outside, you’re in a dark room, and the feeling of uncertainty is just getting the better of you.

As important as these may be, you cannot overlook what is missing.

Pay Attention to the Dream Details

It would help if you tried to see beyond your immediate feeling. When someone is holding you down in a dream, the dream may mean more than you think.

If you really want to search for what your dream could mean as far as practical realities go, you have to address the details of your dream. You have to come up with a clear setting.

A lot of this has to do with asking the right questions.

There are several questions you need to ask when dreaming about being held down by someone. If you have a dream of someone holding you down, the meaning can be related to the setting.

If you focus on the bondage—or even your breathing pattern or the fact that your chest is bound—you probably will lose sight of the context of something bigger.

Is It Sleep Paralysis?

First, you have to ask yourself, “Is my dream some form of sleep paralysis?”

Sleep paralysis is not a disorder per se, but it can be quite troubling.

A dream with sleep paralysis takes many forms. Most commonly, it starts off with the sensation of your body falling just as you’re about to enter deep sleep.

At first, you relax. It’s as if you’ve just decided to go to sleep, but somewhere in that middle ground of being half-asleep, there’s this sudden steep drop. Sometimes, the feeling resembles being abruptly kicked by someone off a chair you’re sitting on—you start to panic as you fall back, only to realize that it’s night outside, you’re alone in your room, and you were safely sleeping on your bed.

Sleep paralysis, in this case, treads the fine line between your waking consciousness and your sleeping mind. Your waking senses were beginning to wane, and your dream was just about to start.

What’s particularly scary about this type of sleep paralysis is that you feel as if the deep sleep you were about to enter as you start the dreaming process suddenly rendered you vulnerable and defenseless—you cannot move. It can last a few seconds or a fraction of a second—it doesn’t really matter. It is very noticeable. This is still considered sleep paralysis that’s taking place in your dream.

Being Trapped Inside Sleep Paralysis

When your dream involves being restricted from physical movement, this could mean that you’re at the tail-end of sleep paralysis.

This is the point where you wake up in your dream and realize that you’re no longer relaxing. You’re on your bed, but you feel like you’re sinking deeper and deeper into the cushions. You can almost physically sense this steep drop coming, and it feels very close to the sensation of falling.

But just as you’re about to move to a sitting position post-waking, the sleep paralysis gives way to feelings of confinement, restraint, and being held back.

But you don’t see somebody in the room. You don’t see any arms. There’s a sense that you are alone. Still, you can’t move. You have to ask another question: “Where am I?”

In cases of sleep paralysis where you are dreaming of someone restricting your movement, don’t just focus on the fact that you feel that there’s a person responsible for this sensation; look at the other “symptoms.”

Where did this occur? Are you on a bed? Are you in the middle of a room or an interior space? Do you remember going to sleep? These are important questions because they help figure out what your dream could possibly mean.

The more vivid the setting is, the more personal it becomes. This is not just some random thought that you had. It’s some sort of mental “peanut butter.”

Possible Causes of Sleep Paralysis

You probably had this experience before: you’re thinking about something before you go to bed, and you end up dreaming about that topic that you just couldn’t let go of.

Just like it’s hard to get rid of that piece of butter stuck at the roof of your mouth, when you think about something that impacts you in a fairly deep way, it may stay in your mind long enough for you to dream about it and even cause sleep paralysis.

And, depending on what the details are, you would discover that you can’t let go. It’s as if all these ideas and sensations form in your mind in rapid succession, and you just can’t go back or even figure out what they mean.

This happens because of your last thought.

Sleep Paralysis Can Also Bring Harsh Memories to Light

Sometimes, our past can also play a big role in triggering sleep paralysis.

People who have post-traumatic stress disorder are more vulnerable to sleep paralysis because of bad memories that keep them from getting good sleep.

People with this disorder find it very difficult to let their guards down even when it’s time to sleep. When they eventually get tired enough, they fall asleep—often against their will—and this triggers panic, which then gives way to sleep paralysis.

How Do You Normally Communicate With People?

Did you know that your dreams tend to mirror how you speak?

If you speak in code or use certain words to mean a range of things, don’t be surprised if the dream or nightmare that you have in your sleep that night follows the same lines. Your dreams, after all, are simply communications in your sleep.

Dreamers tend to dream using the same symbols they use when they talk to other people. When you’re feeling held down or you experience sleep paralysis, and you can’t seem to wake up, try to think about metaphors that you use and what they mean to you.

Do you say, “I can’t move on,” “I’m held back,” or “You’re holding me down”? What other verbal signs do you use to communicate feelings of limitation?

Now that you’re aware of how you communicate what you feel as you get stuff off your chest, try to think of other words or imagery that you use when you feel that you’re unable to change a situation or to take action.

We use imagery when trying to communicate with other people. We communicate our anxiety, love, the things that we like, and the things that we’d rather stay away from.

Dream Imagery As Mental Self-Communication

If you think about it, dreamers use mental imagery in their sleep similar to breathing. It’s automatic!

But that’s the problem with dream meanings. If you often have nightmares in your sleep that come back again and again—you have this rapid succession of bad nighttime experiences—you might want to start with your communication practices.

What kind of words do you use to address love, anxiety, depression, loneliness, acceptance, and other “big concepts”?

If you put in the time, effort, and energy to rethink your “private vocabulary” and what they mean, not only are your efforts at dream interpretation going to be more fruitful, but you’ll quickly discover that you communicate in a certain predictable way.

What Verbal Symbols Do You Use for Losing Focus, Anxiety, Fear, Worries, and Guilt in Life?

It’s easy to think about very positive emotions—like confidence, joy, happiness, and all that good stuff—before we go to sleep. Most of us also feel that our vocabularies, when it comes to positive emotions, are pretty straightforward. We tend to fire off these signals in rapid succession without much thinking.

But when it comes to things that we’d rather avoid or things that mean a negative feedback cycle—like guilt, fear, anxiety, or losing motivation and focus—we’re more hesitant. In some ways, it’s also much harder to let these feelings go as we’re about to sleep.

Negative emotions have to be communicated exactly the way you mean or intend to so as to avoid unnecessary conflict. If they misunderstand, or there is some sort of threat to self, all sorts of problems can occur.

Dissecting the Thoughts In Your Sleep

Most people do their best to understand the nightmares and cases of sleep paralysis they experience every night as they rest and get their sleep. Still, if you’re not aware of how closely your dream communications and what they mean line up with the kind of signs that you use when you speak in your daily life, familiarizing yourself with your sleep patterns could be more difficult.

The whole body of your dreams and nightmare images remain mysteries. You feel that this is just a state that you’re falling into as night comes. Sleep paralysis is just another trauma you’d have to relive, and there’s really not much you can do about it as you lay in bed all powerless.

Not true! You have a lot more control over this situation than you care to realize. Your vocabulary, body language, gestures, and facial expressions speak to yourself mentally through your dream.

What Do Sleep Symbols Tell Us About Ourselves?

Different people use different symbols in different ways because we come from different backgrounds. We’ve seen the world differently in the form of our experiences.

How could these symbols—so personal and often very contextual—be the same for people all over the world?

It would be great if there’s some sort of universal dream dictionary, but dreams are bound by time and space in our sleep. The signs you saw in past dreams may even mean entirely different things years later.

You have to consider space, time, and growth in dream meanings, especially when trying to overcome sleep paralysis.

How Much Can Your Non-Conscious Mind Control What You Dream When You Go to Sleep?

Don’t ever underestimate the power of your mind to suggest your dreams and affect your sleep.

For example, you’re talking to a friend, and right before you put down your phone, fear comes over you. Maybe fear about your relationship?

You may feel that there are certain things that are better left unsaid in your friendship. You may be making light of certain things that are related to who you are as a person—they go to the core of you, but you’re worried your friend cannot really reach you, so you’re stuck.

If you’ve sensed some sort of sensation with your body before you sleep, that can also trigger certain symbology that can result in the form of sleep paralysis.

Don’t Be Afraid of This Idea

Our consciousness perceives the world through our own pair of eyes, and we can’t help it. We can’t help trying to make our dream sequences and sleep experiences mean something based on our individual lived experiences. This changes from person to person because we make sense of the world in our own unique ways.

This means that the symptoms and manifestations of sleep paralysis can differ from one person to another. The sign of being held down, held back, physically limited—these are signs that you have to confront on a very personal level.

In other words, you must look back at what’s going on in your life right before you sleep and the kind of realities that may be holding you back or limiting you. This is crucial in “diagnosing” your sleep paralysis experience.

Similarly, unless you’re willing to reach back into your memories and provide some sort of context, it’s going to be very hard for you to interpret dreams and sleep paralysis imagery where you can’t move or move on.

Don’t Feel That There Is One Immediate Answer

When you experience sleep paralysis, where you dream about being held back or pushed down by something you can’t control, you want closure. At the very least, you want awakening.

You probably wouldn’t run out of advice from every type of friend, acquaintance, or family member. But interpreting potentially traumatic dreams—especially sleep paralysis—that tend to repeat themselves in a cycle ultimately boils down to simple attention.

In other words, you get many chances to connect the dots.

By asking the questions above—and other questions that would come to you as you try to understand the sleep paralysis imagery that plays out in your mind that night—eventually, you start plugging this into the “symptoms” you feel close to a certain experience or time you had a dream.

Probable Meanings of Your Thoughts in Your Sleep

Now that you have a good understanding of all the factors that are involved in the relationship with your dream imagery and possibly even sleep paralysis, here are possible meanings of the sensation of being held back or held down.

  • Your real life doesn’t match up to your dreams, and you feel stuck.
  • The person that you trust keeps failing you, and there’s nothing you can do since you have no control over that person.
  • You are waking from a long time spent asleep on an issue, and you cannot figure out the consequences of your past decisions.
  • Your fear is holding you captive, and it’s setting you up for a fall.
  • You think you can’t seek professional help because you might discover something that you’re going to be unable to handle.
  • There’s a lot of things on your chest that you can’t articulate, and it weighs you down.
  • You know that you are awake, but it’s like there’s something deep down inside of you that is immune to awakening.

The Final Word on Sleep Paralysis or Dreams of Being Held Down

Trying to find the meaning behind dreams in your sleep can be very frustrating. You can go from website to website and walk away with contrasting interpretations. In fact, the typical dream interpretation website might seem to operate in a vacuum.

Don’t let this faze you. Just learn that:

  • The key to effectively understanding your dream or sleep paralysis imagery is honesty about your dream and your feelings.
  • You have to understand that this is not an exact science.
  • The line between a nightmare—or sleep paralysis—and a dream is a very thin one. It all boils down to the meaning you choose to give it.
  • Practice deep breathing. Relax and focus your mind on how your dream reflects how you communicate your waking reality.
  • Take control of your personal communication—whether it’s conscious or not-so-conscious. Maybe you would need professional attention as far as your communication skills go, but be clear on that. Then, tie it into the signs that you detect in your dreams or sleep paralysis imagery.

This is how you get to the point of awakening where your present consciousness lines up and things start to make sense. This is how you truly wake up from a nightmare or sleep paralysis trauma.

Understand Thoughts in Your Sleep by Understanding Your Waking Mind

At the end of the day, making sense of dreams boils down to piecing everything together as you are awake and helping it enrich your conscious state.

This is only possible if you are willing to dig deep, dissect sleep paralysis imagery no matter how daunting, and put in the time and effort to understand how you communicate in real life—this includes both your conscious state and even when dreaming in your sleep.

Dream Example #1

“Not being able to sleep well for the last few days. Experiencing recurring dreams. I am a 29-year-old woman, living in Kuala Lumpur. I lease an apartment and I share it with my roommate. Working as a kindergarten teacher for the past 1 year.

It is a stable job and pays well.

I am responsible for 7 kids in my class and they are all very adorable. The class starts at 9 and ends at 2 and I am home by 5. My colleagues are Chinese and they are very cooperative.

They have never made me feel like an outsider due to my ethnicity or my nationality. All in all this job and this life should make me happy but I am not. This is not what I wanted.

The recurring dream that I see is my mother putting her feet on my neck and pinning me on the ground. I was being hurt, my face was becoming red and I was gasping for breath. She was way stronger and bigger than me. Every time, the dream ends focusing on the pain in my face.

The fear becomes so clear then. And that is the last scene I see before I wake up. With sweat and palpating heart, I ask myself why I see this dream again and again.

My mother is a gentlewoman but even then I have had a complicated relationship with her over the years. She was strict and critical during my growing years, and that kind of drifted us apart. I took solace within my close friends and her, as a widow, within her siblings.

Certain times certain worldly things, like money, were more important to her than I was. This was one of the reasons for which I could not try out a lot of things in my life. I am not ungrateful but imagine you want extra tuition and your mother making you question if you are good enough since I could not live up to her expectations.

Besides, she did end up investing a lot in my education. I went abroad and got an international degree. But still, the struggle with my mother never ended.

To get out of my mother’s financial grip over me I started to look for a job. I was doing my Bachelor in Engineering, which was a strenuous course. I could not wait to graduate. I got the teaching offer right after my graduation and it kind of saved my mental health.

But somewhere I am not happy. I never really had a parent. The years I lived with my mother were me surviving. My father was an abusive person, he neither was a good husband nor a good father. I do not know if my mother even realizes how much that affected us as a family.”

I stopped writing. I think that is enough for today. This entry would suffice. I had no idea journaling could be this helpful. I would submit this to Dr. Chow at my next appointment. He is helping me to get over my problematic childhood, the best psychiatrist out there. I would forever be grateful to him.

Dream Example #2

I never saw myself as someone suited to confined spaces and crowded places. As a child, I would appeal to my mum in tears to let us take the stairs instead of the elevator.

As an adult, I could not go to concerts because of the traffic and congestion typical of such events.

It did not matter that my favorite artiste was performing; my confidence failed me at the last moment. I am claustrophobic, and confinement of any kind is terrifying to me.

And last week, I had the most frightening dream I could ever have.

It was a cold Saturday night, so I had decided to sleep in early because I had taken some pills for a headache that would not go away.

I had to sacrifice watching my regular sitcom, hoping that it was enough to send away the unwelcome visitor that had pitched its tent in my head.

So, I laid to sleep. And in my subconscious, I could feel the headache slowing seeping away. It went on as a beautiful and restful sleep until this scary dream experience chose to torment me.

Honestly, the dream did not start so terrible. I dreamt of walking in a flower garden with my best friend Jessie. The flowers were so beautiful that we lay by each shrub when we walked past them.

Jessie was a flower nerd, so for some weird reason, she knew the name of every flower in the garden. She called out to them as if they could hear her.

Truthfully, it was an entertaining thing to do in a dream. There was just me and my best friend spending time and admiring nature in all her glory. It was a beautiful sight to soak in.

We had almost walked the length of the field when the field suddenly disappeared. It felt like a blanket that covered us was just yanked off.

And in place of the breathtaking flower field, we stood instead in the middle of a deserted brewery.

Then, a man appeared out of thin air and held me against the wall of crates standing in the middle of the room. Jessie saw my situation and tried to help me by throwing objects at my captor to distract him.

But instead of hitting the man, the objects simply bounced off an invisible wall between us. It then dawned on me that I was alone in my defense against this stranger who held my neck as if his life depended on it.

I tried to dislodge the man’s hands from my neck, but that only made him clasp it around me tighter. Suddenly, I was out of breath, and it felt like the walls were closing in on me.

And even though we were in an open space, I could not shake away the feeling that I was in an enclosed space. My brain told me that was just my claustrophobia setting in, but I could not bring myself to believe it.

At the moment that followed, I could not tell which paralyzed me first; my fear for enclosed spaces or the sleep paralysis that washed over me.

I felt so helpless that I could almost taste death. And then, I woke with a start in my sweat-soaked bed sheets. I had never been more afraid in my life.

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