“Suck it up, Buttercup”
“Quit yer crying”
“If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you a reason to cry”
Have you heard these phrases growing up?
Or maybe you, yourself, have said them.
I never let myself cry in public. Never. Or even in front of those I trusted.
Probably because I was told that crying made a person look weak.
I don’t want to look weak.
Or that crying made you look vulnerable and the stronger-willed person will steamroll you.
I don’t want to look vulnerable or be taken advantage of.
Or that crying in public is unacceptable behavior.
I don’t want to appear unacceptable.
Or that tears are for sissies and babies.
I’m not a sissy or baby.
So my solution was to never show weakness, vulnerability, baby tears, or bad behavior.
And this is not to blame my parents (mostly my dad). He thought he was doing me a favor and raising me to be a strong human.
But, teaching young children to hold back crying and emotions only teaches them to keep emotions locked inside so that when they become an adult, they can use substances and other behaviors to shove them down even more rather than emote.
Adult women who cry are considered “emotional” as if it’s a bad thing while adult men who cry are considered weak, vulnerable, and overly feminine.
We are only expected to cry at funerals and maybe weddings. Beyond that, tears are for the weak.
Well, it’s time to prove that crying and tears are completely normal and even more, serve a purpose with many health benefits.
So if you resonate with this type of upbringing, keep on reading. I hope this encourages you to shed some tears.
Tears show courage, strength, and authenticity
Humans are possibly the only creatures to shed emotional tears. What separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is creativity. Creativity leads to emotion. If you watch the creative genius of your favorite artist (actor, dancer, sculptor, builder, makeup artist, etc) you will feel a surge of emotion.
Seeing a movie or listening to a song that evokes a strong emotional pull is what makes us human. Those emotions oftentimes create the watery substance that begins to form in our eyes. Whether it be emotional tears of joy or sadness, the tears come from the same place: emotions.
Letting yourself feel in the moment, no matter who is watching takes strength and courage. Letting tears flow because you witnessed something so beautiful or so devastating shows your ability to live courageously and authentically.
No other animals have been shown to do that.
Humans, though, are gifted with the ability to cry and yet think of it as embarrassing.
Be human and let yourself feel emotions. If tears decide to stream down your face, let them. People will be attracted to your sincerity and vulnerability and see you as human.
It’s a way to detox and purge
Some tears have a strong antimicrobial benefit that can kill 90 to 95 percent of bacteria. Crying regularly is great for kidney detoxification and purging of the fluids in the body. Similar to sweating during exercise, crying also helps the body rid itself of toxins that need releasing. Think of crying like taking a steam and releasing what needs to come out of the fluid ducts.
It’s a natural painkiller
Crying releases endorphins, specifically oxytocin and endogenous opioids. These feel-good chemicals are what help you feel calm and peaceful. Think of a baby who has been crying for a while and once the crying settles, they sleep like, well, a baby. The chemicals released can offer you relief from mental and physical pain, if even for just a bit.
Tears will boost your mood
When you cry, your breathing rate and pattern change. You will typically take quick inhales through your mouth and may also lengthen your exhales to control the sobbing or crying. Doing this type of breathing will slow down the thinking brain and along with the endorphins, make you feel better, thus improving your mood.
Suppressing your tears is bad for your heart and can lead to depression
Suppressing emotions actually puts you in flight/fight/freeze mode putting strain on your nervous system. This constant taxing of the immune system can lead to all types of diseases and illnesses including cancer. Stifling tears puts stress on the heart chakra (if you want to learn more about chakras, I have a class that goes into detail – message me for details). When the heart chakra is out of balance, a host of diseases can emerge over time. Allowing yourself to destress by crying is like releasing the valve on a pressure cooker. Letting go gives your heart some space to expand and contract rather than stay contracted and restricted.
Crying helps with deeper sleep
As mentioned above, crying helps release all the feel-good chemicals which ultimately leads to sound sleep. Just like a baby does after a good bout of crying.
Crying helps you connect with others
As I mentioned in the beginning, humans are the only animals that can feel emotions and cry about them. Doing this in front of others shows your vulnerable and human side. Other people will connect with this. People will feel safe in your presence and know that, because you have emotions, they can confide in you. And crying together creates a bond. If you’ve ever had the experience of having a baby with your spouse present and witnessing the miracle together, you most likely cried tears of joy together. And in that moment, seeing your new creation and sharing a tearful moment, bonds you with a shared memory to never be forgotten.
Bringing Light to Tears
Considering all the benefits of crying and tears, it seems that holding back is doing more harm than good.
If you aren’t ready for full-blown public cry sessions, try it in front of your kids or parents first. Obviously, when the opportunity presents itself rather than forcing tears. Or, if you aren’t even ready for that, when you feel tears ready to form, jump in the shower and let ’em fall. The water from the shower and the tears from your eyes will cleanse you inside and out.
And if anything at all, let your kids cry. You will have peace of mind knowing that their tears are keeping them happy, healthy and free from bacteria.
How much crying do you think is healthy? I’d love to hear your opinion.