What it Means To Dream About Getting Lost or Not Knowing Where You Are

If you've ever dreamed about being stranded while snoozing, here's what it could mean for you IRL.

Sometimes our dreams are so vivid — like seeing something go up in flames — we recognize exactly where we are, what we’re doing, and who we are with. Other times, our brain plays tricks on us, and make us think or feel one thing, but what we see in the dream is completely different.

If you’ve ever had a dream where you find yourself lost, in an unfamiliar place, or somewhere that your brain is telling you is familiar, but what you see is completely different (for example, if your dream brain says you’re in Disney World, but where you are is definitely not Disney World), you’re not alone: dreaming about feeling completely lost is a common theme, according to Lauri Loewenberg, a Certified Dream Analyst and author of Dream on It, Unlock Your Dreams Change Your Life.

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We spoke with her to decode the meaning behind why we sometimes don’t know where we are in a dream, and also some ways to control the subconcious situation — though it’s important to note, it’s not always possible, so go with the flow and see where it takes you!

What is the overall significance of location and environment in a dream?

Settings in your dream can be a big clue as to what concerns you might be dealing with in your woken life.

“The setting or environment of your dream is often a good place to start when trying to figure out the meaning,” Loewenberg advises. For instance, “a school setting will often be about an area of your life where you are learning and trying to advance. A hospital setting will often be connected to an area of your life you are trying to heal. A parking lot or parking garage will often represent an area of your life that is parked or on hold.”

You can think about what normally happens in these settings in real life, and then also think about what area(s) of your life might feel like those locations, too.

What does it mean when we realize we don’t know where we are in a dream?

Woman dreaming

“It’s important to keep in mind that the setting of a dream is rarely about an actual, physical geographical location but rather an ‘area’ of your life,” Loewenberg explains. Examples of these theoretical “locations” include your relationship, your job, your health, etc.

They could also represent a psychological area, as in “where you are in life” or in regard to a particular goal or situation (think: “Our relationship is in a really good place.”)

Loewenberg explains that this could represent a situation where you are dealing with “unfamiliar territory,” so don’t necessarily take the lost sensation as literal, depending on what’s presented to you.

What does it mean when your brain tricks you into thinking you are somewhere you actually aren’t?

This common occurence depends on elements in the location that are different, because whatever is different is whatever you might need to focus on.

“Dreaming that you are in your childhood home but it looks different or is furnished differently” is a very common example, according to Loewenberg. While the home could represent “the self that is still that child,” whatever looks and feels different might “represent the differences and changes in you since you lived there.”

“Take careful note of what is different than normal and how these differences affect you emotionally in the dream,” Loewenberg adds. “Are they a danger? Are they exciting?… That should correlate to how a particular area of your life makes you feel right now.”

Is there a way to control our surroundings/environment in a dream?

It’d be great if we could do so, but Loewenberg notes that dream time is not necessarily a time when we are really able to control our thoughts and emotions as much as we’d like.

“We’re pretty much along for the ride and at the mercy of what our subconscious provides for us,” she explains. Any time you know you’re dreaming, it’s basically a lucid dream, and you might be able to make changes and decisions that shift what the dream shows you.

“When you become lucid within a dream, ask questions!” Loewenberg advises. “For example, ‘Why am I here in my former place of work? What does this mean?'” You might receive an answer you hadn’t though of before, which can guide you further in whatever real-life decisions you need to make.

How can we help ourselves feel safe when we don’t know where we are in a dream?

Feeling lost in real life — whether figuratively, or literally — is an unpleasant feeling for sure. But feeling lost in a dream can make feelings of insecurity heightened, especially if it feels like we can’t control the scenario.

“When you wake up from the dream, tell yourself, ‘Okay, that dream was upsetting but that’s okay, because I know it’s trying to help me,” Loewenberg recommends. She also says that journaling before you fall asleep might help your subconscious direct its thoughts in a positive direction.


Katka Lapelosova
Kat is a born and raised New Yorker exploring the world as she writes, eats, and everything in between. Read more
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