Growing up, I always heard people shun the act of crying. “Nobody likes a cry baby,” they would tell me – and I believed them. I thought about sitting on an international flight in front of a sobbing infant, and saw the logic in their rationale.
In high school, after a bad loss, my football coach would blow his whistle and scream, “HEY, THERE’S NO CRYING IN FOOTBALL.” I believed him too. Terrell Owens, on the other hand, clearly missed the memo.
Over time, though, I started questioning the masses. I started pushing the boundaries of “social acceptance.” I threw caution to the wind.
I started crying.
Well, not literally, but I decided I would if I felt like it. F*ck it, right? We all deserve a good cry, from time to time, and I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if anybody is going to deny me that privilege. Even you, society.
As it happens, crying is actually healthy as sh*t. Next time you’re driving home, alone, on a cloudy autumn night, and "Take Care" comes on – don’t hold back. Don’t grab the on-the-go pouch of tissues, at least not yet. Let yourself go, my brothers and sisters – cry me a river, goddamnit.
And while you're at it, listen to the official soundtrack of all things #sadboys–my guy Young Lean.
First of all, crying makes you see better, and I don’t mean that poetically. While a session of crying might, figuratively, allow you to “see a whole situation” more clearly – it also helps you see things clearer, literally speaking.
Watery eyes – after walking into a dusty room, for instance – do not arise without good reason. Physically speaking, “tearing up” is among the most vital of bodily functions. When your eyes water, it is usually because they are irritated in some shape or form.
After walking into a dusty room, it is likely that some of that dust will find a way to your eyes. This irritation will put your tear ducts into motion as a defense mechanism, to wash your eyes automatically.
Dr. Judith Orloff explains the different types of tears on Psychology Today. Generally speaking, they’re are three different types of tears: reflex, continuous and emotional. The aforementioned “watery eyes” refer to the reflexive variety.
Tears are the “KY jelly” of the eyes – they’re lubricants, and they’re essential. Continuous tears refer to those being constantly being produced, even without you knowing, or needing a tissue to wipe them away. They serve in part to keep your eyes constantly moist.
When you blink, “basal tears” are secreted from glands above the eyelids. These tears contain a chemical known as “lysozyme,” which contains antibacterial properties that we couldn’t survive without.
The third type of tears are emotional tears – and those are the ones I’d like to focus on, more so, for this piece.
Emotional tears bear with them a variety of health benefits. According to biochemist (and “tear expert”) William Frey, while reflexive tears are composed of 98 percent water – emotional tears are also composed of stress hormones. This is why nobody's ever felt less stressed after walking into a dusty garage.
Having said that, after the passing of a loved one – you might feel the urge to cry. And, after that cry, you might’ve felt better. This is because you physically cried away some of that stress, in the form of stress hormones, streaming down your face.
Additionally, crying also catalyzes the production of endorphins found within the body. Endorphins, as Orloff explains, are the body’s “feel-good” chemicals. These are the same hormones that are released after a long run, that give you that “runner’s high.”
Orloff also explains the non-physiological benefits of crying, noting how emotional tears “heal the heart.” Because of the “macho” framework society has constructed for what constitutes a “strong man, or woman, alike,” crying is seen as taboo.
However, by avoiding crying – to live up to that impression – you might also be creating more serious life issues. Crying is a way to fully cope with some traumatic incident, such as a bad loss or heartbreak. By avoiding tears, you might also be avoiding full-on intimacy with a part of your life – and that’s ultimately nobody else’s problem but your own.
By crying, you prove to the world – and more importantly, to yourself – that, yes, you are human. You are human, and you are also vulnerable at times, and that's healthy, too.
In fact, according to a another study published on Psychology Today, vulnerability is linked with intimacy. This is why broken hearts hurt so badly, you are often the most vulnerable to the one you're the most intimate with.
However, intimacy with one's own self has also been linked as the key to healthier relationships, in general, through a separate study.
Stop trying to be somebody you’re not. Be comfortable with who you are, and understand that a few shed-tears won’t make you any weaker of a man or woman. You might just be a strong man or woman who also cries. Insecurity is something to avoid, not tears.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It