What do these words and phrases mean to you? Cry baby, weepy, tearful, and emotional. Most times, these words have negative connotations. They are associated with weakness or a lack of control. Society expects us to keep a stiff upper lip. This stems from stoic Victorian attitudes, but in other eras, crying openly was expected in some circumstances. It was quite acceptable to cry openly for the loss of friends when mourning and was considered noble. Medieval monks often wept for their sins!
Attitudes are changing, but it is still taboo to cry openly at work, unless you have suffered a bereavement or some other personal loss. Crying at work is not okay when you are frustrated, angry, under attack, or have had a poor performance assessment.
Research by Kimberley Elsbach at UC Davis is fascinating, though. She examined over 100 crying incidents. Women who cried were likely to be judged negatively and were seen either as manipulating, unstable or over emotional. But 8 of the 9 men who cried were actually viewed sympathetically, because they were showing a more human and compassionate side to their nature.
Let’s leave the workplace and look at how crying can make us stronger mentally and can be actually physically good for us. Here are 6 myths doing the rounds with some research findings to debunk them.
1. People who cry feel terrible
They may feel sad while crying, but the benefits that follow are amazing. Studies show that up to 89% of people who have cried buckets feel in a better mood afterwards. One of the reasons is that manganese is released when weeping. Manganese is a vital mineral for many essential bodily functions such as absorbing calcium, metabolizing fat and regulating blood sugar. Too much of it tends to result in fatigue, anxiety and aggression. Crying can help lower the levels of manganese, other toxins and stress hormones, which is one of the reasons we always feel better afterwards. It is also interesting to note that teardrops contain as much as 30 times the amount of manganese that is in our blood. So, let the tears flow. It can do you a lot of good.
2. Crying can make you feel ashamed
If you always hide your emotions, then crying will certainly make you feel ashamed. Believe it or not, expressing emotions through tears is part of being emotionally mature. Once you have overcome that barrier, you will be reap many benefits. You will feel better and freer than ever before.
3. Weeping does nothing for your health
This is another myth that reflects the misinformation going around about crying. Among the fascinating ingredients of the average teardrop, we have the lysozyme fluid. This is your own anti-bacterial protection. It will help prevent eye infections. If your nose starts running too, that is all the better as lysozyme will protect the whole area from germs. It is estimated that tears can kill up to 90% of bacteria in a very short time. It is also effective against anthrax.
4. Crying only adds to depression
There is no evidence that crying increases depression, nor are there any conclusive studies that it is more effective than anti-depressants. But many aspects of weeping and being tearful can help a depressed person, though it should not be their main activity! But crying can help them to come to terms with difficult emotions such as despair. It can help to purify negativity.
“Crying is cathartic. It lets the devils out before they wreak all kind of havoc with the nervous and cardiovascular systems. All these feelings need to be felt. We need to stomp and storm; to sob and cry; to perspire and tremble.”- John Bradshaw, author of Homecoming
5. Crying cannot actually benefit your eye health
Tears are essential and will help to keep eyes lubricated. When you cut an onion, these are known as reflexive tears and together with basal tears, they help to keep eyes free from infection. Your eyes will manufacture tears when you get an object in them or when the wind blows very strongly. These are all essential for good eye health and the best ones of all are the emotional tears, as we have mentioned above.
The majority of those who suffer from Sjogren’s syndrome, where there are not enough tears to keep the eyes moist and healthy, were found to be repressing emotional expression. Incapacity to cry was damaging their eye health but the underlying cause was doing more harm emotionally and psychologically.
6. Real men don’t cry
Figures show us that women tend to cry 47 times a year while men only do it 7 times! Men do not cry because they have been taught not to. They end up by expressing their anger and frustration in more aggressive and destructive ways. This can massively damage relationships at home and at work.
There were times when men were respected when they cried because it indicated that they were in actual touch with their feelings and emotions. It was even seen as a sign of being a real leader and warrior.
Real people, women and men, do cry and they should do more of it! They will live longer and healthier lives.
“Given that I sweat a lot and hate deodorant, I suppose it makes sense that I weep often. But I’m not going to apologize for that, because after a good cry, I always feel cleansed, like my heart and mind just rubbed each other’s backs in a warm bath.” – Benedict Carey, New York Times reporter.
Featured photo credit: Been Crying(1)/ Toni Blay via flickr.com