We often don’t “feel” our own vulnerability due to the defensive and denial power of the ego; however, dreams show us when we are vulnerable and this can be a great aid in spiritual development and in generally taking care of ourselves.
The Franciscan friar and spiritual writer, Richard Rohr, states in a very insightful book I heartily recommend, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self, that vulnerability “…may be the only start for any true spiritual journey.” Noticing when we are vulnerable and how our dreams portray this state can significantly help us become aware of how vulnerability affects us individually. Dreams can often also gives us clues on how to do deal with this state, all of which will contribute much to our spiritual growth and well-being. Dealing with a vulnerability dream may be the first step to living a deeply spiritual life that is is marked by a profound sense of inner strength and well-being.
Dream Images of Vulnerability
Common images and themes found in dreams that may relate to vulnerability are:
Appearing naked or scantily clothed in a public or inhospitable environment.
Being lost or wandering in a strange setting
Breakdown of one’s vehicle
A wounded or diseased body part
Losing one’s wallet or purse
What Can Be Done
Instead of forgetting or ignoring these upsetting images, reverence them as profound symbols with messages telling us to take care.
A great way to mine the richness of the dream is to notice and appreciate these images by asking ourselves how they relate to what’s going on in our current life. For example, a loss of a wallet containing an ID card may relate to a sense of losing one’s identity, making us vulnerable to others’ control.
We may even pray about the image, seeking guidance or healing about the issue. If insightful guidance comes, act on it!
Observe if there are helpers in the dream. How are they helping? Are there persons in one’s waking life that are helping in a corresponding manner? This may also give clues to nature of the vulnerability. Are these helpers spiritual in nature, such as a guardian angel? Also, consider that these helpers may be aspects of oneself such as some talent or skill that could resolve a situation where one feels uncomfortable in waking life.
Dreams of wounded animals are often hard to bear, and perhaps this is good because these kinds of dreams should capture our attention and elicit a response – just as when we see a wounded animal in the street or in the woods. Like all dreams, wounded animal dreams can have different levels of meaning and should be handled accordingly. Here are some suggested questions to ask, if you such a dream.
Is it my animal that I am dreaming about? If the wounded animal is one I own or am responsible for in waking life, I need to ask what am I doing that may cause this animal to be wounded as in the dream. For example, if I dream my dog is lying by the road with a broken leg, I need to ask if I am giving it too much freedom to roam freely on the streets or be endangered by on-coming vehicles. Such a dream may be a warning me that this could happen to my dog if I don’t take better care of it.
If the animal is not one for which I am responsible for in waking life, I need to ask what part of me does this animal represent—going on the dreamwork premise that everything in a dream represents part of me. If it is a bird, I would ask what part of me is like a bird. Let’s say the bird represents my sense of freedom because when I see birds I think of having freedom to fly and soar.
Then I then need to look at the injury itself and ask how I am or could be wounded like this animal. Am I doing anything that could contribute to such an injury now or in the future? For example, let’s say I dreamed that a bird has a broken wing and is lying on the ground. It has flown into a glass door. I could associate this injury with my sense of freedom being wounded when my progress in a creative endeavor was stopped by some kind of obstacle I couldn’t see. Perhaps this dream is telling me to go slowly, be more cautious or is warning me I could hit an obstacle. It may be referring to this as already happening and is asking me to take care of the wounded part of myself.
Lastly, the dream could be referring to both an animal I own and a part of me. This happened to me when I dreamed of my cat lying on the ground with a leg injury. Sure enough, not too long after having this dream, my cat suffered a leg injury which required surgery. In my own life, soon after the dream, I experienced several setbacks related to trusting my own natural cat-like instincts which greatly impacted my sense of being able to “get around” with my usual ease and grace, forcing me to seek help from others and do more meditation to get back on track. Therefore, the suggestions I give here are based on hindsight wisdom I wish I had practiced better when I had the dream of my injured cat. My dream was clearly warning and trying to help me.