Most might argue, though girls have more leeway than boys, that crying is generally a sign of weakness. Simply put, our society generally frowns upon crying and our culture supports the notion with such sentiments as, ” be a man!” to little boys who cry, or ” big Girls Don’t Cry,” to little girls. Children, both boys AND girls, are taught very early on that crying is a sign of weakness and we often carry these misconceptions into adulthood.
As adults, if we haven’t learned to challenge our socialized beliefs against crying, we can form an unhealthy relationship with tears, one of which hardens us to vulnerability and impedes our ability to intimately connect with others. And while most might argue that the average adult should be able to manage their emotions effectively, crying serves many benefits that helps them to do so. Here are a few of them:
Crying helps to self soothe. Crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system associated with the part of the body responsible for resting and digestion. The soothing benefits associated with rest is partially why after crying, many people feel like falling asleep. Crying offers an opportunity to detox from stressful emotions and experience rest.
Crying also serves to reduce emotional pain. Associated with the hormones of oxytocin and endorphins, these feel good chemicals are released and help people feel a sense of calm and well-being. Given that these hormones are associated with pleasure and happiness, it’s no wonder that crying is often followed by more positive emotions.
Crying also evokes emotional support from others. Unless you’re in a relationship with someone who is completely insensitive and emotionally unavailable, most likely, the shedding of tears will invite a level of sensitivity from the people in your life and will give you a greater sense of understanding of the connection that you share with others. In essence, it will help you to discern which people support you, and those who don’t. If you feel vulnerable enough to experience crying in front of a person, and if the person embraces that vulnerability, there is a good chance that the interpersonal relationship between the two of you is strong, at least to some degree. Contrarily, if you’re not embraced while crying, or resistent to crying in front of someone else, there is likely a valid reason for your lack of vulnerability that should be explored if the relationship is of importance.
These are just a few of the many benefits of crying. As stated, it is normal to cry; and crying is healthy. There are times, however, where crying can accompany other symptoms and may be cause for concern. Here are a few of those:
- lack of energy
- feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- trouble sleeping
- changes in appetite, weight loss/gain
- feelings of irritability or frustration
- thoughts of death or suicide
If you or someone you care about is having trouble managing crying and you would like to explore this further,