What Dreams About Being Chased and Hiding Mean | Guy Counseling (2022)

What Dreams About Being Chased and Hiding Mean | Guy Counseling (1)

Dreams about being chased revealed

Are you having dreams about being chased? In your nightmares, do you run to a hiding spot, hoping not to get caught? Does the experience leave you feeling terrified?

If the answer is yes, you wouldn’t be alone. One of the most common types of dreams involve scenarios where a person is being chased. Sometimes, you know who is pursuing you. Other times, only thier presence can be sensed.

Sound familiar?

In the aftermath of such dreams, many people report feeling profound fear. Some even wake up screaming, soaked in their own sweat.

Chasing Dreams Explored

As a counselor, I’ve worked with many people (men and women) who have shared with me the specific details of their dreams. We’re talking about everything from dreams about death to dreams about a love interest.

While I don’t pretend to have all the answers, I have done a great deal of research on dream content in an effort to help folks better understand their meaning.

Before continuing further, you have a right to know who is authoring this piece. I know if I were reading this page, I’d be curious. Here’s a quick thumbnail sketch.

I hold a Ph.D. in psychology and teach college-level courses in the behavioral sciences for a number of institutions, including NYIT.

Additionally, I am a board-certified clinical hypnotherapist and also hold credentials in transcendental meditation. Finally, I licensed in the state of Illinois as a mental health counselor.

With all of that said …

I’m not trying to put myself out there as a dream interpretation guru. But here’s the thing – anyone who tries to tell you they are an “expert” in dream analysis isn’t being straight with you.

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That’s because dreams are entirely subjective in nature. Much depends on the interpreter’s theoretical orientation; a $10.00 term used to describe what type of psychology the professional subscribes to.

Speaking for myself, I identify as a cognitive behavior therapist (CBT) and pull upon integrative approaches from CBT’s third wave.

Most of what we know about dreams comes to us from the famous psychiatrist, Carl Jung. He is largely credited with conceptualizing the active imagination (Chodorow, 1997). Think of this as the mind’s portal to the unconscious and other spiritual dimensions.

That said, it’s time to move on to the real reason you came to this page – to understand what chasing dreams mean.

I’m going to tell you what I share with students and clients when they come to me with a dream analysis question. Are you ready? Here it goes:

Dreams should be viewed through the lens of symbolism and cannot be taken literally.

I mention this now for foundational purposes. This will help to provide context in all that follows. To make things simple, I’ve created this post in the traditional question and answer format. My hope is to help you quickly get to the answers you are looking for.

What Dreams About Being Chased and Hiding Mean | Guy Counseling (2)

What do chasing dreams mean?

When a person dreams about someone (or something) chasing them, it usually represents an unconscious fear. In many cases, the intensity of that fear is directly linked to something a person is worried about.

There is some research to suggest that bad dreams are nothing more than mental projections of unmet psychological needs. But there is a big difference between having an unpleasant dream and one involving being chased – well, at least to me.

Some psychologists think it is important to identify who is doing the chasing. But what if you don’t know “who” is?

Typically, what I hear is: “I could tell something was after me and so I ran. I could sense it was evil but that’s about it!”

Others have shared variations of the above. Examples include only being able to see the eyes of the person, like bright red slits. I’ve even had some folks tell me they saw monsters running after them with gold colored eyes.

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What’s interesting is that men seem to have more dreams about being chased by a group (aka: a pack of wolves) whereas women report being pursued by one object (like a creature).

I have no data to support this observation and can only tell you what’s been shared with me during counseling sessions. To my mind, this makes sense because guys generally are the ones to have dreams about fighting – usually against two or three people at once.

What does hiding mean in dreams?

A common dynamic as part of a classic chase dream is the person running from a creature and finding a place to hide. Let’s say in your dreamscape, you are being pursued by a beast in the misty woods.

From a place of fear (and a desire to survive), you find a massive oak tree with a large trunk. Acting as a pillar, you hide behind the tree until danger passes.

FYI: I didn’t just make this scenario up. I’ve heard manifestations of this exact same situation from at least a dozen of clients.

Here’s a recent example from a student who wrote me three weeks ago.

“I knew something was chasing me so I hid behind a tree. I waited there until it felt safe to leave. But then I suddenly woke up!”

So, what does the act of hiding mean in dreams? Well, it’s not what you may think. Most people say hiding symbolizes fear and self-protection.

But what if I told you that hiding really represents something about you – like a secret? In many cases, that’s exactly what I believe is going on.

So instead of hiding your physical person (aka your body), what you are really doing – symbolically – is protecting information. The entity chasing you usually represents a threat to that material.

Another variation of the hiding theme relates to unconscious fears of being exposed. To cut to the chase, I’m talking about being found out as:

  • A fraud
  • Incompetent
  • Fake (in some way)
  • Ignorant about a topic
  • Somehow “weak”

I’ve seen this dynamic most often in people who struggle with a condition called imposter syndrome. That’s basically a situation where an individual is unable to accept their personal accomplishments and view themselves as a fraud.

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One interesting observation is how often imposter syndrome seems to pop up with organizational leaders I have worked with, such as senior executives and CEOs. So many of them have shared with me – in confidence – that they feel like they are “faking it”.

Makes sense?

Finally, I also want to say that I’ve seen the chase-hide dynamic occur with college students. Typically, these dreams occur around the time of major exams. And when you think about it – doesn’t that computer? After all, there are only two outcomes of a test: pass or fail.

What Dreams About Being Chased and Hiding Mean | Guy Counseling (3)

What can I learn about myself when I dream about being chased?

With an open mind, you can learn much about yourself from dreams. With chase-hide dreams, you may be able to identify deeply held sources of shame.

Additionally, you might be able to determine if someone or something is causing you pain.

Bear in mind that dreams also can be projections of anxiety. I often joke with some of my clients and say, “Just because you went to sleep doesn’t mean your anxiety went to sleep too.”

The hard truth is some mental health issues can lend themselves to nightmares, particularly various forms of depression. I’m not saying if you have bad dreams that you have mental health problems. But I am saying that people who struggle with certain types of issues report bad dreams more frequently.

If I get caught in a dream, does it mean I’ll die?

This is an old urban myth. Many people think if they dream of someone grabbing or “catching” them – particularly while hiding, it means they will die in real life.

In other words, they don’t wake up.

Honestly, that is a bunch of nonsense. I can understand why folks buy into this because scary dreams lend themselves to scary outcomes. Read this page on the meaning of death in dreams to learn more.

What else can cause dreams about being chased?

Aside from various forms of internal conflict, there are outside influences that can impact dream material. A biggie is medications.

If you’ve ever watched those commercials on T.V. where the narrator talks about the side-effects of a certain med, you’ve no doubt heard: “[fill in the blank] may cause sleep disruptions or nightmares in some people.”


This is why it is important to ask your doctor questions about any new prescriptions.

Additionally, substances also can cause people to have chasing dreams. Examples include alcohol, cannabis, and psychedelic pills such as ecstasy. Technically, the “dreams” are hallucinations but the person experiences the content as a dream.

Are dreams portals to another dimension?

Earlier, I mentioned that dreams should be viewed through the lens of symbolism. That very much holds true. But symbolism shouldn’t be thought of as exclusionary to other possibilities.

Believe it or not, there are some cultures who believe that dreams are a pathway to supernatural communication – openings to other realms of existence that transcend this time and space.

Native Indians, for example, believe in spirit animals. In this way, a turtle or wolf appearing in a dream symbolizes a life-lesson. Example: wolves represent wisdom, turtles – patience.

Where else can I learn about dream interpretation?

You will find lots of information on the Internet. Some of it is great. Others, not so much. What I encourage people to do is keep a dream journal. This helps them to record imagery, which usually is linked to themes. It is then just a matter of exploring the imagery and finding their definitions from various sources.

Personally, I like the book Understanding the Dream You Dreamed by Milligan. It’s written without all of the psycho-babble we so often see in dream-analysis books.

In closing, I’ll leave you with this. Dreams can be a wonderful source of self-insight. Don’t fear them. Instead, try to learn something about yourself.

Have you experienced dreams about being chased? What do they mean to you?


Chodorow, J. (1997). Jung on active imagination. Routledge.

Photo Credits: Pixabay

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What does being chased and hiding mean in a dream? ›

Dreaming about running and hiding may reflect your desire to re-evaluate your life. Maybe things are changing too fast in your life. Perhaps, you've been burdened with too much stress and new responsibilities. You'd like to take a step back and re-evaluate everything.

What does it mean if I dream someone is chasing me in my dreams? ›

On the other hand, frequently dreaming about being chased could mean that you're: anxious about something. experiencing heightened or ongoing stress. worried about an upcoming event.

What does it mean when you dream about being chased by bad guys? ›

As common as a cold (and just as unpleasant), our dreams of being chased by another person are typically tied into fears about specific situations in our waking lives. Perhaps we're avoiding the situation, and are trying to "outrun" it; sometimes, we're trying to run away from an aspect of our own personalities.

What do dreams about hiding mean? ›

The idea of hiding something in a dream suggests the need to cherish or protect what may be given too freely. Finding something hidden is usually a reference to feelings or experiences that were long ago repressed, but are currently being explored. If you are hiding, see Attack and Being Chased.

What does it mean when you are running away from someone in a dream? ›

If you're running away from someone you don't know, Ellis says this can mean you feel threatened but don't truly know or understand the source of the threat. This could even be a reflection of anxiety in your waking life, which can often arise for seemingly no reason.

What does it mean when you dream someone is trying to hurt you? ›

These kinds of dreams are very often about unresolved internal conflict but can also be exploring what it means to do harm or be harmed, usually in a psychological sense. Dreams about being attacked often relate to feelings of your own vulnerability.

Is it true if you see someone in your dream they miss you? ›

One of the most common reasons people dream about someone is because they miss that person. It's human nature to feel a sense of well-being when we're with someone we care about. In other words, if you dream about someone often, and think it means they miss you, it may be because you're the one missing them.

What does it mean when you dream about running from something? ›

If you dream you're running and running from something until you run into a wall, Anderson explains that your brain might be nudging you to please deal with the stressful situation already.

What does it mean when you dream about trying to escape from somewhere? ›

A dream about escaping means that you might not be able to find an easy way out. Your desire to stay away from something unpleasant. Trying to get away from something that you feel obligated to do.

What is it called when you have a dream and then it happens? ›

Precognitive dreams are the most widely reported occurrences of precognition. Usually, a dream or vision can only be identified as precognitive after the putative event has taken place. When such an event occurs after a dream, it is said to have "broken the dream".

What is the spiritual meaning of running in a dream? ›

Running dreams usually represent you're trying to escape a situation. If you're running in your dream but you aren't able to run fast; this means something is blocking your way. If you are running in slow motion, it suggests you are facing problems in reaching your destination.

What do violent dreams mean? ›

Decoding your violent dreams

If you have a violent dream, it could also represent some particularly intense feelings, especially if the dreams involve somebody you know. Violent dreams can be due to past traumatic experiences, or simply because violence has been on your mind.

What does it mean when you dream about someone hitting you? ›

Dreams about being beaten or being attacked often relate to issues of control in your life, and your own vulnerability.

What causes nightmare? ›

Nightmares can be triggered by many factors, including: Stress or anxiety. Sometimes the ordinary stresses of daily life, such as a problem at home or school, trigger nightmares. A major change, such as a move or the death of a loved one, can have the same effect.

What are the signs of someone missing you? ›

When the goosebumps rise up on your skin and it's nowhere near cold out, it could be a big sign that someone is missing you. If you are on someone's mind, you might feel certain sensations in a very specific and physical way. Any number of things can give you goosebumps, that's just the fact of the matter.

When we miss someone can they feel it? ›

Missing someone often feels like a physical ache in your chest. You might feel sad or even angry. When you are missing them, it might seem like you're not able to concentrate on anything else. You might find yourself thinking about the person all the time, and you might want to talk to them or see them again.

What is the spiritual meaning of running in a dream? ›

Running dreams usually represent you're trying to escape a situation. If you're running in your dream but you aren't able to run fast; this means something is blocking your way. If you are running in slow motion, it suggests you are facing problems in reaching your destination.

What does it mean when you dream about running away from the police? ›

A police dream in which the dreamer runs away from police officers signifies that you feel that there is a lack of discipline and an overall sense of inadequacy in your life. Such an interpretation is justifiable, as such dreams include you evading authority figures.

What does it mean when you see yourself running in a dream? ›

If you are facing a few challenges in life, and if you feel you lack the bandwidth to overcome it, then you may see yourself running in your dream. It signifies that you are indeed running away from a situation that is giving you a real headache.

Had a dream my ex was chasing me? ›

Being chased by an ex

Maybe you need time before you jump into your next relationship. This dream might also be indicative of taking a break and pondering over what you want from a present relationship or relationships in general.

Why do we run so slow in dreams? ›

“If you feel that your legs are moving slowly, then you feel that there is something resisting your progress in waking life.” So, if you're into dream interpretation, you're running so slowly because you're being held back in real life… which is pretty depressing.

What does it mean when you see police in your dream? ›

While a positive police dream means you should ask for help from someone in authority, the opposite might apply here. It might mean someone in power is thinking of you or looking for you, and they mean you harm. So you need to conceal yourself, lie low, and be discrete in your actions.

What do police symbolize? ›

The police badge is a symbol of authority, respect, integrity, and trust.


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