The other day I was tagged in the post below by Sarah Silverman, where she revealed her most recent Google searching history that including:
The truth is, dreams about peeing, pooping, or trying to are some of the most common dreams I’ve come across—I can’t even remember all the pee or poop dreams I’ve worked with clients over the years. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve had one. It’s not that surprising—all humans do this every day, multiple times a day.
But what does this act represent to us? And why are there often negative emotions around an experience that is so natural and healthy?
As always, there are no absolutes and no definitive answers when it comes to deciphering symbols or actions within dreams. What’s most important is feeling into what is most deeply true for you. Here, I just want to offer you a couple of avenues of exploration if you find yourself having dreams about using the bathroom, and invite you to use it as a jumping off point for your own inquiry.
One of the most common scenarios with peeing dreams is having to use the restroom and not being able to find one and/or using the restroom in an unusual, normally public place. Embarrassment, shame, and anxiety often come up here. Perhaps you ended up peeing somewhere you would never pee in real life, making you feel exposed and vulnerable.
A good place to start as you feel into the visceral experience of the dream is to ask yourself, are the feelings in the dream familiar? And not just the feeling of needing to pee and having nowhere to do it—but on a more symbolic level, when do you feel this way—anxious, humiliated, desperate for some privacy?
On a societal level, the cloud of shame that hovers over going to the bathroom is everywhere. Ever seen a commercial for “poo-pourri”? Women especially are socialized to believe their completely natural behaviors of farting, pooping, burping, and peeing are gross and disgusting—things we have to hide from others. It makes a certain kind of sense—pee and poop are waste, we are supposed to dispose of it. But that doesn’t mean we are bad just because we have it at all.
The metaphor is common enough—our ‘shit’…being in ‘our shit’…dealing with other peoples ‘shit’…meaning the places where we get caught in our own illusions, act out, feel heavy or weighed or burdened, stuck or confused or lost or in despair. It’s not to say that we should embrace these states—but when we are too anxious or embarrassed to even allow for this shit to exist, how can we ever release it? The shit is not the problem—it’s a natural part of the cycle—and our bodies naturally dispose of it. It’s the shame we attach to it that makes it so hard for us to feel like we have the space we need to let it go.
Right alongside having to pee at all, almost all humans have had another common experience–potty-training. This presents the issues of control that are also often present in bathroom dreams—both our inner sense of control over our own bodies as well as the ways we are asked by society to control and/or manage the needs of our bodies.
Unregulated human waste can make our communities sick–this training is necessary on some level. At the same time, this training is one of our first introductions to a conflict we will encounter in different ways our entire lives—the needs of our individual bodies vs. the needs of our communities/family systems. In order to be a part of society, you have to learn how to control your body’s impulses in certain ways. This can never be avoided, but your bathroom dreams could be pointing to how this control is out of balance. Are you suppressing your own needs for the sake of the group or ‘saving face’? Are you too focused on what other people might need, making you feel desperate for some private space to just let go? Remember, everybody poops, and ultimately, it can only be controlled for so long. We need to have discernment about when it’s appropriate to compromise our deep internal needs to serve the greater whole and when we must surrender to our bodily needs and release our control. Are there ways you seek to control how you are perceived by others? Do you construct an image of your life that is designed to hide your shit? How do you feel when that shit comes up? Is it similar to how you feel in this bathroom dream?
As most people have experienced, releasing the body’s waste is a life-affirming action that often, when we are in the privacy of our own toilets, can feel really good. But when the threat of being witnessed or seen in this release comes into play, what feels good and is natural can start to feel really difficult. That’s because of the vulnerability and loss of control that is required for us to allow it. When our bodies are screaming at us that we need to go to the bathroom–when the amount of shit inside of us has reached a level where our bodies are demanding we let go of it–we are forced to face that if we are going to get rid of it. And that means we are going to have to give up control. We are going to have alter the story we have about ourselves, and release the ways we are convinced that our shit doesn’t stink.
Another aspect of control that can be present in bathroom dreams is the lack of control we have over our very own bodies. Our bladders seem hell bent on reminding us of this every single day—no matter what’s going on, if we have to pee, we have to pee. Our bodies have their own marching orders. This is another area of inquiry that can be helpful around bathroom dreams. What is your relationship to your body like? Do you find yourself working hard to control the way it is perceived or what its needs are, or are you open and receptive to the messages it gives you about its needs? Does this relationship change when you are around others—if so, how and with who?
Not to mention, I know there are plenty of folks out there that have had bathroom dreams where the feeling of release is heavenly! Or maybe you found yourself going to the bathroom in public without any concern, and felt empowered. And to that I say bravo!! I think this world needs more people out there just letting their shit go!
Because after all, it’s just crap. There is going to be more where that came from. And there’s one more obvious thing about bathroom dreams: they are often really really funny, kinda like Sarah Silverman herself.
Do any of the lenses I suggested resonate for you and your bathroom dream? What did I miss here? What have you learned from your dreams about needing to go to the bathroom? Can you be brave share the craziest one you’ve ever had?? It would totally make my day I promise you!