Sarah Regan

mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

By Sarah Regan

mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor’s in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.

Mother Grizzly Bear and Her Two Cubs

Image by Ken Canning / iStock

February 7, 2023

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Animal symbolism can show up in our everyday lives, as well as in our dreams. And if you’ve been dreaming about bears a lot lately, you might be wondering what these dreams could be trying to tell you. From brown bears to panda bears, here’s what to know, according to experts.


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What does dreaming of bears mean?

While the specific meaning of your particular dream can only be fully understood by you, there are some common themes among bear dreams in general, according to professional dream interpreter Lauri Loewenberg.

As she tells mindbodygreen, she considers bears to be in the top seven most common animals we dream about. She notes that in her experience with clients, bears will typically relate to someone or something that’s literally “overbearing” them.

“Dreams will use wordplay—they bring our metaphors to life for us, because we naturally speak that way,” Loewenberg explains, adding, “So dreams work that way as well.”

And speaking of wordplay, she also notes that if a bear is representing an overbearing person in the case of your dream, the person is likely a woman, or a “mama bear” figure in your life. (Wordplay yet again.)

Here’s a closer look at what your bear dreams could mean, depending on the context.

7 common bear dreams & their interpretations:


Dreaming of black or brown bears.

Loewenberg notes that black and brown bears are the most commonly reported bears in dreams for her clients, given that these are the bears we typically think of in North America. According to her, the bigger the bear, or the more bears there are, the more you’re feeling overborne.

“They really have the typical meaning of an overbearing person—or it could also be a situation is overbearing, as well,” she says, adding, “Either way, it’s difficult to fare, and usually there’s a person involved.”


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Dreaming of polar bears.

Now, if you’re dreaming of polar bears, Loewenberg says, the interpretation changes a bit. Given polar bears live in arctic climates, the “overbearing” feeling you’re dealing with could actually be someone else’s coldness, she explains. The situation causing you distress still ties back to a potentially overbearing person or situation, but this one is colder.


Dreaming of panda bears.

Dreams have a way of using symbolism and wordplay to represent something else. And in the case of a panda bear, Loewenberg says, it’s likely talking about some situation or person that is confronting you with a black-and-white issue. “It could be telling you that there’s no gray area here with this situation, it’s either black or white,” she adds.

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Dreaming about bear cubs can mean a few different things depending on context, according to Loewenberg, who says it all depends on where “mama bear” is. Are you the one responsible for these bear cubs? In this case, these cubs could represent your own children or something you feel you need to protect.

If you sense mama bear is nearby and you’re feeling afraid, this could tie back to the more general interpretation of an overbearing person—perhaps your own mother, Loewenberg explains.

Lastly, she notes, she’s had women experiencing fertility issues claim to dream about bears cub, so themes around fertility and childrearing could certainly be at play here.


Dreaming of dangerous bears.

The greater context of what happens in your dreams, and more importantly, how you feel in those dreams, are the best ways to figure out what they actually mean. In the case of a very dangerous bear or bears, Loewenberg notes, you’re not just slightly worried about a fuzzy black bear in the distance—you’re in stress dream danger-mode.

Again, the more vicious the bear or the more bears there are, the more you’re likely feeling the effects of some overbearing force in your life.


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Dreaming of friendly bears.

You might be wondering at this point: Are there any positive bear dreams? According to Loewenberg, yes, there are. If you’re dealing with a friendly bear, a bear that’s minding its own business, or you’re even rescuing one, she says, it can represent a real person you may have once believed to be a threat.

“They turn out to be benign, you know—or it can also represent your own ability to be the mother bear or the cuddly teddy bear, those chill aspects of yourself,” she adds.


Dreaming of hibernating bears.

Lastly, we have hibernating bears, which can represent a few different things. More obviously, Loewenberg says, a hibernating bear can represent your own need to rest and recoup, and even trouble sleeping.

Beyond that, she says, bears can sometimes represent your finances. (Think of the stereotypical image of a bear hoarding honey, for instance, or bear versus bull markets.) If you’re stressed about your financial situation and dream of a sleeping bear, she says, it’s a sign to cool it on the spending.

Lastly, this dream can still represent an overbearing real life person, and in this case, they may have a hot temper that’s simmering in hibernation. “Someone who you don’t want to anger—because the angry bear will come out of hibernation,” Loewenberg explains.


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How to work through this dream.

Interpreting any dream is about identifying which real life situation is making its way into your dreaming mind, and further, identifying the way you feel in the dream and where/when you feel that same way in your life.

So when it comes to bears, Loewenberg says, you need to figure out if the bear represents you or another person, because they often do represent overbearing people in our lives. “A good rule of thumb with any dream is to narrow down the way you would describe the bear in the dream—the behavior, the nature of the bear—then start with yourself. Does that fit you right now? If not, then work outward. Does that fit someone close to you that you’re dealing with right now?” she explains.

From there, she adds, pay close attention to how you feel when you first wake up from the dream, or even how you felt in it. Did the bear make you feel frightened? Victimized? Soft? Someone or something in your life may be making you feel the same way.

Then, of course, moving past the dream involves handling that real life situation or person, so you can have more peace of mind.

The takeaway.

Dreams are mysterious and nuanced, and only you can unpack the deepest meaning of your dreams. But when it comes to common dream symbols, bears are one of them, and understanding these associations can help us pin down what our dreams could be trying to communicate.


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