Crying in Dreams? The Surprising Meanings Behind Tears

Have you ever woken up in tears after an intense dream? Crying in dreams is surprisingly common, though the reasons behind our nocturnal tears vary. Dreams that trigger tears can range from nightmares to visions full of hidden symbolism. Learning to interpret the emotions and imagery behind crying dreams can provide valuable insight into your subconscious mind.

Read on to better understand what your crying dreams reveal about you.

Understanding Why We Cry in Dreams

To understand crying dreams, it helps to first consider the biological purpose of tears. In the waking world, humans produce emotional tears in response to strong feelings like sorrow, joy, fear, or pain. Tears serve as a release valve for overwhelming emotions.

During REM sleep when most vivid dreams occur, parts of the brain linked to emotion and memory remain active. This allows us to experience realistic emotions in dreams that can carry over into the physical world. The sleeping mind may conjure up scenarios that unleash intense emotions, triggering actual tears even while we slumber. So what do these nocturnal tears signify?

Processing Emotions

Dream researchers believe crying may help us process subconscious emotional turmoil. Painful or unresolved feelings from waking life often surface symbolically in dreams. Crying in dreams may reflect the mind’s attempts to work through inner conflicts and achieve emotional catharsis.

For example, dreams about the loss or rejection of loved ones can trigger a grieving process during sleep. The tears shed may assist in releasing suppressed sadness you carry in waking life. Dreams can function as a psychological release valve when you lack other outlets for strong emotions.

Heightened Anxiety

Anxiety and stress build-up from daily life commonly inspire dreams. Crying visions may indicate anxious thought patterns that occupy the subconscious. If you frequently cry in dreams during stressful times, the tears likely stem from magnified apprehensions or worries.

Anxious dream plots that evoke tears often involve failure, embarrassment, being chased, public speaking, or losing control. Waking up tearful from these scenarios points to undercurrents of tension. However, the act of crying in the dream still facilitates emotional catharsis.

Trauma Triggers

Traumatic memories can resurface in dream form, provoking tearful reactions. Dreams involving past abuse, accidents, death of loved ones, or other distressing events may recreate painful emotions.

Reliving trauma through dreams allows your mind to slowly heal and process the experience. The tears shed represent your psyche’s attempts to cleanse old emotional wounds. Recurrent trauma dreams that make you cry indicate more healing work remains.

Empathy Dreams

Crying in dreams occasionally stems from entirely fictional scenarios or even watching others cry. Witnessing someone else’s misfortune in a dream can evoke strong empathetic tears.

Shedding tears for dream characters reveals your deep capacity for compassion. Empathy dreams remind you to extend heartfelt concern to others in the waking world who suffer.

Common Meanings Behind Crying in Dreams

Beyond processing emotions, dreaming of tears can carry metaphorical meaning. Recurrent dream symbols and scenarios tend to represent aspects of yourself. Here are some common interpretations of what different crying dreams signify:

Being Unable to Cry

Dreams where you try unsuccessfully to cry often symbolize repression. Inability to shed tears in dreams reflects bottled up emotions, resistance to vulnerability, or refusal to acknowledge inner pain in waking life.

This dream suggests a blockage exists between your true feelings and outward expression. Make space for appropriate emotional release before pent-up tensions overflow.

Someone Else Crying

Witnessing others in tears during dreams typically indicates some aspect of yourself feels neglected or uncared for. Pay attention to who cries in the dream – their identity reveals what needs your attention.

For example, dreaming of an inner child or younger self crying could mean your innocent, playful side craves acknowledgement. Crying family members highlight issues left unresolved with loved ones.

Happy Tears

Though less common, dreams can also elicit tears of joy. Crying from happiness signifies deep contentment in the dream scenario. You feel profoundly moved, understood, loved, or creatively fulfilled.

These special dreams reflect blossoming self-actualization. They suggest you’ve discovered an enriching piece of your destiny. Such visions help align your life path with your true nature.

Overwhelming Grief

Dreams of weeping uncontrollably or being unable to stop crying hint at seismic shifts underway. Grief dreams often coincide with major life transitions, spiritual transformations, or emotional breakthroughs.

The tears represent parts of yourself or unhelpful habits you may need to relinquish. Wholly cathartic crying dreams prepare your psyche to consciously release the old to make space for new growth.

Manipulation by Tears

When dream characters try to take advantage of your tears, it may reveal your people-pleasing tendencies. You may regularly prioritize others’ needs over your own – sometimes through emotional manipulation.

Let this dream be a reminder to set healthy boundaries. Refuse to let anyone in waking life leverage your kindness or exploit your vulnerability.

Crocodile Tears

Shedding obviously fake or exaggerated dream tears suggests masking difficulties with dramatics. Crocodile tears symbolize using manufactured emotions to avoid sincerely engaging with problems or feelings.

This dream prompts you to get more authentic in relationships. Drop the pretense and constructively discuss issues – without resorting to crying wolf.

Interpreting Symbolic Tears in Dreams

Beyond the scenarios and characters involved, the physical quality of the tears can hold meaning in dreams. Here are some symbolic traits to note:


Colored tears often correlate to associated emotions:

  • Clear = Tranquility
  • Black = Depression
  • Red = Anger
  • Green = Jealousy
  • Yellow = Fear


The amount of tears shed frequently relates to the intensity of associated emotions or issues:

  • A few tears = Mild sadness
  • Uncontrollable sobbing = Overwhelming grief
  • Empty tears = Repressed feelings


The flavor or quality of dream tears can reflect inner states:

  • Sweet = Relief
  • Salty = Pain
  • Bitter = Regret
  • Sour = Negativity

Make notes on the specific details of any crying dreams. The nuances carry important messages about releasing and transforming difficult emotions.

Decoding the Emotions Behind Crying Dreams

Since tears express emotions in dreams, identifying what you felt can provide further insight. Here are some key feelings that trigger dream crying:


Dreaming of crying from sadness suggests grieving a loss. The tears represent releasing attachments to people, possessions, or parts of your identity. Sadness dreams guide you to accept impermanence.


Angry tears in dreams often indicate a need to constructively harness aggression. Don’t repress justified outrage – channel it into positive change. Let the tears wash away inner toxicity.


Tears of fright in dreams typically mark the mind grappling with perceived threats. Examine what scares you at the subconscious level. Then strategize how to resolve those anxieties in waking reality.


Weeping from frustration in a dream implies feeling stuck or powerless to fix a vexing problem. These tears signal it’s time to change your approach or seek alternate solutions.


Uncontrollable sobbing dreams suggest emotional overload from too much change or responsibility. Listen to this dream as a plea from your psyche to slow down and re-center.

Happy tears signify connecting to deep wells of inner bliss and beauty. These special dreams occur when you feel profoundly fulfilled and aligned with your soul’s purpose.

Notice when and why you cry in dreams. The underlying emotions provide a map to guide your waking self toward wholeness, healing, and empowerment.