Why crying is facing it and why should you cry if you can

Have you been taught to “keep your upper lip stiff” at all times and keep your emotions to yourself? Or were you admonished as a child when you started crying with this overzealous parental statement: “You want something to cry about; will I give you something to cry about?”

Most of us have been taught that crying is a sign of weakness. Also, if it is going to “collapse” (what a terrible demoralizing statement) we are instructed to do so in private, never in public.

In reality, crying is a very normal human response. It is a temporary release from internal and external conditions, a way of accepting the pain of change in doses that can be controlled. More specifically, it is nature’s antidote to pain.

So why should you cry? Let’s examine why.

1. First of all, crying is facing it. That’s a belief that you should keep repeating and repeating in your self-talk, especially if you’ve been heavily influenced by well-meaning adults who planted the seeds of negativity towards crying. Give yourself permission to cry.

2. Shedding tears is coping because it is a surefire way to cope with the pain of loss. Facing pain, not running from it, is what eventually leads to healing through acceptance of what cannot be changed. Avoiding pain prolongs pain and suffering by increasing tension and anxiety. Shakespeare put it this way: “To cry is to lessen the depth of pain.”

3. Biochemist William Frey, who has studied tears and their function more than any other scientist, discovered that emotional tears (of sadness, anger, fear, etc.) remove toxins from the body. On the other hand, tears of joy or happiness have far fewer toxic biological by-products. It’s no exaggeration to say that crying can keep you healthy. So if they come when you are in church, on a bus, when you hear a certain song or when you walk, look at them as a good friend.

4. The tension in the body is reduced when he cries well. Thoughts and emotions filter through cells and cause significant physiological disturbances. Anger, guilt or depression, common responses during grief, initiate alarm reactions in the body and crying reduces the physical effects on the cardiovascular system.

5. What if you can’t cry because the belief “don’t cry” is so deeply ingrained? Find another way to release those pent-up feelings. Write, paint, draw or sketch what you feel. Solve it for some cause. It can be helpful to see a therapist and talk about your inability to cry and what has caused the blockage of a normally healthy response.

Tears communicate, lubricate, elicit sympathy, change mood, reduce tension, and help us cope with a multitude of losses throughout life. They really do have a nifty design due to the many functions they serve. The therapeutic value of crying is clear: accept, encourage and nurture crying in yourself and in those you support in times of change. Don’t rush for the Kleenex.

Let a good cry happen. In fact, never miss an opportunity to shed tears and allow stress, confusion, and frustrations to spill out. And notice how laughter and tears go hand in hand, sometimes in the same breath. Together, they are twin resources that should be given high priority in all types of healing and adaptation to life changes.

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