Have you ever felt better after a really good cry? I have! Sometimes I can hold pain in for so long, thinking I am stronger for doing so. How many times have we apologized for shedding tears in front of someone, as if we are putting a tremendous burden on them? Perhaps, after reading this, you won’t feel so bad. Many times I feel relief and even pain-free, after a good cry. I feel a reprieve from whatever was emotionally hurting so badly and sometimes fall asleep soon after. Scientifically it is proven, that the reason for this sedated feeling I described is because our breathing, and heart rate decrease and we enter into a calmer, emotional state.We all can relate to something emotionally trying that has made us feel like crying. Have you ever had to put your crying on the back burner for a little while, until a more suitable time to cry in private? I remember holding the emotional pain inside from some bad news while at work. When I finally left the office and got in my car, that’s when I would let the tears finally flow. I remember as a younger parent that I thought I should try to keep my times of sadness to myself. Sometimes it was hard to hide tears, and it felt like I was hurting my children by letting them see me cry. To have feelings that invoke crying is completely normal, and when we allow our children to watch us cry, it reinforces for them that it’s okay to cry when they need to express it.
We’ve been conditioned to men are supposed to be stoic, bereft of emotions and feelings, macho. In society crying has been seen as a breaking down, the ultimate sign of weakness, a trait more for women.
What about men? What if we could perceive the ability to cry as a strength to freely reveal how they feel? What if men didn’t need to apologize for having a natural emotion? Men would be more vulnerable and empowered to be more in touch with their feelings.
Crying is natural and it is healing. A survey found that 85-percent of women and 73-percent of men felt better after letting out their tears. A study found that men are five times less likely to cry in a year than women and that men cry for shorter periods and less likely to explain or apologize for openly shedding tears.
Fortunately, there have been some scientific studies done on tears, and there is a purpose for our crying. After all, we have tear ducts, and they are there for a particular function. Dr. William Frey at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis discovered that reflex tears are 98% water, this would be watery eyes, triggered from chopping onions or the sun’s glare too bright in our eyes. Emotional tears have different compounds. They have higher levels of some proteins, manganese, potassium, and hormones, including prolactin.Lack of manganese can lead to slowed blood clotting, skin problems, and lowered cholesterol levels. Blood pressure, muscle control and our nerve working, involves potassium. Prolactin is an important regulator of our immune system and other bodily functions. When we are under stress, our prolactin level increases, and it is through the emotional tears that the stress hormones get excreted from our body.Professor William Frey says: ‘Because unalleviated stress can strengthen our risk for heart attack and damage certain areas of our brain, the human ability to cry has survival value.
Many men in society grew up with the message from their father; that big boys don’t cry. Some were raised knowing that it is okay to cry when they are feeling emotional or physical pain. However, this message is quickly forgotten because peer pressure is very high with other children. If the child is at school and feels it is okay to cry, perhaps they are watching an educational documentary, and it brings tears to their eyes. What if the child has an injury on the playground or even worse be subjected to name calling? It can get worse when they cry, and it is likely they would be called even more names like “Sissy or Crybaby”. However if the message from their parents, “that tears are natural” gets overpowered by harassment from children at school it will not feel okay to cry at school.
Tears play such an important role in our healing. We need to educate our children even at school about tears and how important they are. Tears have their function in keeping our body healthy. In this life we experience happiness and laughter openly, maybe in time, the tears will be more acceptable to flow a little more freely. We must experience all our emotions including sadness as well as joy and laughter; pain brings tears, and this is natural. So, go ahead and cry.