The Natural Release of Emotion
What does it mean to cry and why do we do it? On the other hand, why are we often told as children not to cry, and as adults view crying as a weakness? As a physical representation of emotions, crying can have many meanings and be seen in many ways. At its core, crying is a way to cleanse the body – physically and emotionally.
Crying is a physical response
As humans, we release tears for several reasons. One reason is a response to physical pain and irritation of the eye, which makes sense as a function of crying is literally cleansing the eye. A second response is to emotions. Whether it be pain or happiness, strong emotions elicit a physical response that provides a natural release for the emotions. Oftentimes, crying is thought of as solely being a response to sadness. While that is certainly a large portion of why most people cry, tears can also be released in frustration, stress, anger, joy, and happiness. There are no rules to what might elicit a response, but no matter the cause, shedding tears is a natural release response.
Why is it good to release emotions?
Holding in feelings can lead to unleashing them in ways that could have a negative impact on ourselves or others. For example, say you had a fight with your significant other and you are feeling hurt and upset. You keep in all of those feelings and tears then head off to work. Your co-worker says that the paperwork you have been waiting for is delayed and you snap at them, blaming them even though it is not their fault. The hurt and angry feelings you have been holding in are suddenly unleashed on your co-worker, which is hurtful to them. While it may have seemed like the better option to keep in the initial difficult feelings, this incidence of lashing out caused more pain that could have been avoided.
By allowing yourself to cry, you are enabling your body to bring up and let out all of the negative feelings being held in your body. Crying is a way to acknowledge and naturally release those emotions, paving the way for positive emotions to let themselves back in. Holding in negative emotions can also prevent you from feeling happiness, excitement, etc. so ensuring you give your body the space to express the negative emotions, positive ones can find their way back to you.
So why is crying seen as a weakness?
Depending on gender, age, profession, to name a few, crying is perceived differently. As children, we are told not to cry seemingly because it bothers people. As adults, especially adult men, we are expected not to cry to show that we can handle situations and be unemotional. To be honest, it is unclear why expressing emotions is seen as a weakness. To have emotion is to be human and what we feel guides us and can make us stronger. Crying should not be seen as a point of weakness but as a source of strength in allowing the body to feel its feelings and release them.
Crying is a natural, physical response that every human is capable of. It is not something that should be looked down upon or seen as a useless emotion. Crying provides the body with a way to relieve the negative emotions and pave the way for coping with difficult situations. To cry is to release whatever is being held in the body. If held in for too long, it could come out in other ways that are inappropriate or painful given the circumstances.