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5 Reasons Why People Who Cry A Lot Are Mentally Strong

5 Reasons Why People Who Cry A Lot Are Mentally Strong

Unfortunately, not all emotions are created equal.

The most widely accepted emotion, happiness, is a sign of confidence, security, and success, among other things. Even if we have to “fake it till we make it”, we’ve been told expressing happiness is a sure way of gaining close friends and admirers.

Fear is perhaps the most applicable emotion, as everyone has felt it in some regard. We’ve all been scared of something before: leaving a job, asking someone to marry us, confronting a friend about something they did to upset you. And considering the daily fear mongering by mass media outlets, fear makes a strong case for the most felt emotional sensation.

Anger, though rarely welcomed, is another emotion many of us feel and practice daily. Be it in the midst of heavy traffic, at your child for breaking a prized vase, or at an incompetent coworker, anger is, again, widely accepted as a completely normal emotion.

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Disgust is highly suggestive and, for the most part, remains internalized but is still regularly felt. When disgust is expressed, in most contexts, it’s usually accepted and sometimes agreeable.

Sadness, however, is in a league of it’s own, much like in the new feature Pixar film Inside Out. Sadness seems to be alienated, picked on, and persecuted when expressed fully. Outward expressions of sadness such as droopiness of the body and face, slumping, and crying are considered signs of weakness and insecurity. It’s unfair that our culture puts sadness in such a tight box. It’s damaging, unhealthy, and downright unfair to the human life experience.

People who aren’t afraid to express sadness, in fact, are far more mentally healthy than those who suppress it. Here’s why:

They aren’t afraid of their emotions.

If you were overwhelmed with joy, would you hide a smile? If you saw the innards of a squished squirrel while running or biking on the side of the road, would you not grimace? If you had an awful day at work and your unemployed roommate drank your last ice cold beer that you’d been looking forward to all day, would you not be pissed off? If you were trying to find a light switch and didn’t think that your boyfriend was in the room, lurking, waiting to scare you thinking it would be funny, would you not be terrified when he jumped towards you and yelled?

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So if you’re sad, why wouldn’t you cry? Why wouldn’t you slump around? Why wouldn’t you give yourself the right to be sad?

People who ignore sadness cheat themselves out of an important facet of life. Sadness, or crying, isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’re a human and have feelings beyond what you’re told is appropriate to show in public.

They understand the healing properties of tears.

Much like a spit valve releases saliva from a trumpet, your tear ducts releases stress, anxiety, grief, and frustration from your brain and body. It’s soul cleansing, mind enriching, and goosebump inducing, almost acting as a drain for the buildup of negative emotions that result from stress. The healing properties of tears aren’t just restricted to sad tears, either, but happy tears as well. In either case you’re dealing with extreme emotion. Allowing that extreme emotion to back up and stay in the body can be very dangerous both physically and mentally.

Beyond improving move and reliving stress, crying, specifically tears, have scientific benefit because they release toxins, help improve vision, and can kill 90 to 95 percent of all bacteria in just five to 10 minutes.

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They know how therapeutic crying can be.

Recent psychological studies have determined that crying stimulates our brain’s endorphin release, the “feel-good” hormones that also act as a natural pain killer. Crying also lowers manganese levels, a chemical that, when overexposed to, can exasperate the brain and body.

Even though the problem may still persist after you’ve cried it out, there’s no doubt that the act of crying allows for an overall release of bad emotion even if momentarily. This allows us to think clearer about the problem and not be so overwhelmed by it.

They don’t care about gender roles or societal expectation.

Crying is stigmatized for both sexes. If she cries it’s because she’s unstable or a wreck or, the most delusional conclusion, needs attention from others. If he cries, he’s a pansy, a wuss, or, my personal favorite, not manly enough. All of these generalizations encourage both sexes to submerge their sadness to the depths of their soul.

Though it’s an uphill battle that can only be won an inch at a time, we’re working tirelessly to break down social constraints that hang heavy over both sexes. Those who allow themselves to be sad in public are not only brave, but also activists for an emotionally healthier society.

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They invite others to not run from their feelings.

I like to cry. Or rather, I don’t let myself not be sad when I feel sadness. We are all working to overcome some sort of depressing demon that’s trying to tear us down. When we allow ourselves to feel pain when we feel it, we’re also encouraging others, either people we already know or not, to connect with our pain. To know that you’re not alone in thinking, feeling, or even acting a certain way is emotionally liberating and, in extreme cases, life saving.

Those who accept sadness when it stares them in the face allow others to do the same. Recalling the previous point, it’s dangerous when we keep emotions hidden and buried within. Since sadness has negative associations, we often won’t reach out to someone we notice is experiencing difficulty because we’re afraid, not of the person necessarily but of the act of being deeply upset.

When we’re honest to our bodies, we allow it to perpetually run at maximum capacity, even when we’re experiencing tremendous pain.

We’ve been seriously discussing good mental health practices for years now. With the dawn of therapy and heavily prescribed feel-good medications, we should all be more appreciative of our biological ability to cry and take full advantage of the natural anxiety-reliever it is.

Because crying shouldn’t be perceived as a sign of weakness, but a sign of internal strength and mindfulness.

Featured photo credit: Left Out / Portable Soul via albumarium.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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