Why or When Do People Usually Cry or Become Emotional?
Emotions and our ability to process them in an orderly fashion are one of the many innate traits that differentiate us from other species. The mental formation, regulation, and suppression of feelings are functions that can be attributed to the fact that humans have the most developed central nervous system in the Animal Kingdom.
Joy, anger, sadness, guilt, exhilaration, etc. are few of the wide range of emotions that humans experience. Crying happens to be one of the most active mechanisms of the physical array of these emotions that we harbor. Whether it is a jolt of surprise, a wave of happiness, or a gale of sorrow, our tears take no time to roll down as shiny pearls on the hem of our cheeks. The drops originating from our eyes have various feelings associated with them. As a general rule: the greater the intensity of the emotions being experienced, the faster is the operation of our lacrimal glands.
Proponents of evolution sternly believe that those who are the strongest are more likely to survive the changing environment. Darwin’s extensive research, in which he attempted to explain the phenomenon of weeping as a tool for survival turned out to be a futile quest and he ended up concluding that these droplets are insignificant to man. To put it in other words, humans can easily survive without tears other than the ones that stay within the eyelid to ensure that blinking remains atraumatic and any foreign body entering the eye is washed away.
Religious people in the very same time believed that tears have little to no neural connections; rather, they were a result of cardiac function whereby a sudden gush of strong emotion causes the heart muscle to heat up such that it's cooling down produces water that needs to be cleared via the eyes.
Until the discovery and explanation of the lacrimal gland and its connections, various theories about crying existed. Later research proved that while there are no confirmed pathways or reasons for why emotions like sadness, happiness, empathy and surprises cause our eyes to well up, one thing is for sure: Crying is both a response and a stimulant. When one gets emotional, weeping starts in response to the influx of emotions that have crossed our personal threshold and need an outlet. The trail of tears in turn trigger those around to pay attention to us as we are caught up in a whirlwind of emotions that are too much for us to handle alone.
What are The Social Constructs And Attitudes That Surround Crying or Being Emotional?
Crying has been observed in other species as well, but has the most profound interpretation in humans. While emotions are abstract and are worked upon within our brain, crying is a display that articulates for us. However, different people associate different meanings to tears:
1. You’re too weak
The most common notion about someone who is easily triggered to cry is that they are unable to hold themselves together and lack the courage to face life as it is. You might have observed it yourself: easy criers are deprived of the amount of attention that they deserve or are in need of because most people look down upon them as one of the weaker individuals of the society. This causes them to hide their emotions, suppress their feelings even when the expression is due resulting in them spiraling down into the deep abyss of solitude and depression.
2. You’re too sensitive
If you are someone who cries easily or have been with someone who is ever-ready to let loose their tear-fall, you would understand when people who cry often are deemed as being overly sensitive. Science has proven that people who cry effortlessly are people who have a high-functioning empathetic side to them. Since they take in all the energies around them and are attentive to how others feel, they tend to cry easily.
3. You’re considered a burden
Emotional people have lesser number of friends in general even when there is nothing wrong with them. This has more to do with how society interprets instant emotional reactions and crying. Groups of friends keep you at arm’s length and do not tend to share with you the same level of comfort as they do with people who are deemed emotionally stable or stronger. Parties are held without you being invited.
How are these attitudes different between males and females?
Conventional gender roles dictate that men are the stronger ones, in all aspects: be it physical, emotional, or mental. On the other hand, women are deemed as timid, delicate beings. This blaring contrast is why we are more likely to observe a woman cry in public than a man.
Men have been thrust with the responsibility of being the head of the family and the breadwinner who has to not only hold himself together but be an anchor for his dependents. This causes the male population to suppress all kinds of emotions. They are unable to express their affection or sorrow. Tears are a stigma for men even though they are as much human as their female counterparts.
If a man were to be seen crying, it would be a rare sight and one that will turn a lot of heads. The narrative that men don’t cry means that any man that has been forced to the verge of tears must have been through a lot. Hence, while crying may bring men disgrace, it also garners an amplified response from society.
Women have the advantage of being more emotionally liberated than men. However, since anger and aggression are seen as manly traits, the only way females can air out any ilk of frustration is through crying. Ladies crying in public is not a rare sight and it may garner some attention, but since, they are already considered as the weaker individuals of the society, their tears might go unnoticed by many. Crying, a sign of weakness seems befitting for the gender that is already considered as more emotionally-driven and weaker.
How Do We Overcome These Social Challenges?
First of all, we should remember that we are all humans. Our bigger brains are able to handle a wider range of emotions; therefore, we are also more likely to be stimulated by the triggers around us. The negativity associated with the word emotional is useless and quite misleading as this is one trait that gives us the edge over the less evolved animal species. If anything, we should be proud of our characteristics.
Here are a few of the ways that you can use to be better able to regulate and express your emotions without giving in to the social stereotypes:
- Crying and emotions make you human.
- Your body and mind deserve the detoxification bestowed by crying. Use this feature as and when needed.
- Stereotypes are meant to be broken. If you are someone who sniffs in the cinema during a movie, that is completely okay! This means that you are able to feel something.
- Genders are social constructs; biologically we all have the same makeup. Having a certain gender does not mean that you have to handle your emotions differently. It is okay to cry, no matter what your identity is and where you are.
- Crying and expressing is so much better than harboring a mental illness because you let your emotions rot within you.
How is Crying a Sign of Strength, not Weakness?
As stated earlier, emotions are completely natural and normal for us as we are all humans. We are programmed to be emotional. This is the reason why people who lack emotions or are reluctant to express them are said to be sociopaths!
Crying due to any reason shows that your brain has a normal functioning and that you are well-aware of the things in your environment. It reinforces your neural pathways and lessens the strain on your heart. In case you haven’t heard, scientists have seen multiple cases where the heart muscle broke down into tatters because of all the pent-up emotions in mentally ill people who never sought any help. How can something that calms your heart and brain be a weakness?
It has been proven that crying has the same effect on your body as an anti-depressant or exercise. As the tears slide down, the number of happy hormones in your body continue to increase, the reason why you feel so much better once you’ve vented out your emotions through a good cry.
While you might never be able to put into words how you feel, a teardrop will speak volumes to those around you. Crying will help you get the support that you have been trying to avoid for so long but had been in the need for.
How Can Crying or Expressing Our Emotions Help With Our Well-Being?
The release of oxytocin and endorphins relaxes our skeletal and cardiac muscles and offloads the stress from our brains. These chemicals are also responsible for lowering the pain-eliciting prostaglandins in our bodies.
Crying literally cleanses your mind, heart, and your eyes. It is okay to cry when you feel like it. There is no shame in being a human, is there?
However, if you feel like your crying has been excessive and uncontrollable lately, it is completely fine to seek professional help.