While in many other cultures crying is seen as a normal emotional outlet, in America, this perfectly normal expression of everything from pain to sorrow has somehow become labeled a sign of weakness. Blame it on our Puritan forefathers, or our formal British founders, but emotional outcries are generally not considered a sign of strong personal control.
Be that as it may, science now says quite the opposite. The latest schools of psychology, in fact, indicate that an ability to cry as a coping mechanism makes you stronger, not weaker. Not only that, there is also science to indicate that crying can release toxins, boost endorphins, and perhaps most surprisingly, it can even kill bacteria.
And if you’ve seen celebrities endorse some of those pharmaceutical-grade eye drops, guess what? Your body makes the same stuff for free, in the form of tears.
All well and good, you say, but who really cries out loud in this day and age?
How about renowned female UFC fighter Ronda Rousey? The 29-year-old mixed martial artist and former Olympic medalist says she often cries nonstop the day before a fight. Rousey says bringing all her emotions to the surface before a match puts her in the best frame of mind to win.
And she’s not alone, and that includes some very famous men as well. Even revered American presidents, from founding father George Washington all the way to Barack Obama, have worn their hearts on their sleeves, even shedding tears in front of crowds at times.
So why is crying so good for you? Well, psychologists have some answers to that question, and some of them might really surprise you.
The very fact that you are able to overcome the social stigma of crying in front of others is one sign that the medical field says puts you in a better position to cope. Why? Because you are not controlled by societal expectations of how to conduct yourself or how to present your emotions, you are by nature more independent and less of a sheep. While some social dictums may be for the good of all, not crying, it turns out, is not one of them.
Moreover, your own ability to let loose the waterworks may mean that you allow others to do the same, which puts you in an important leadership role in many cases. When you show the self-confidence to let down your own façade, others can as well, and everyone benefits from that freedom to be real.
Then there’s the matter of fearlessness. Those who can openly cry are better able to face reality and take it on head-on. Often, the emotions that drive our tears are deep-seated and can even be overwhelming, so those who are able to meet these difficult forces face-to-face convey an ability to shoulder any challenge that may come their way without crumbling.
Finally, criers know how to move through emotion, and then move on. Although many folks think that pushing back feelings keeps them locked up for good, quite the opposite is true. Facing, feeling, and releasing your pain and sorrow in the moment puts you in a better position to push forward and move past whatever is driving those emotions.
And finally, don’t forget that you bawled like the baby you were when you first came out of womb at birth. Maybe you were on to something and didn’t even know it! Go baby yourself next time you feel upset, and cry like your life depends on it. It very well may.
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