Young boys are programmed not to show emotion as they are growing up, and this programming has been so effective that by the time they are adults, they have become rather emotionally numb and passé about things that might cause them to experience negative emotions, primarily sadness, as it signifies a lack of strength or weakness. To shed a tear is to expose your vulnerabilities, which is undignified, so we train our young men by instilling the mantra, “Big boys don’t cry.” And, for the most part, they comply.
The men in our world, at least 80 percent of them, don’t cry. They bottle up their sadness and lock it away inside to exude more strength, which is a virtue sought after by the opposing sex. This primal instinct makes men more appealing to women, who instinctively are attracted to signs of strength in a potential mate. This instinct hearkens back to a time in the early dawn of man and persisted until about a hundred years ago.
What happens when men withhold tears for years and possibly for a lifetime?
It’s no surprise that men who hide their emotions and pack them down into deep recesses of their mind are potentially walking powder kegs, that could explode at any moment, and many of them do. The explosive nature may express itself in extraordinary fits of rage, which can fuel a soldier to commit honorable acts of violence or create a domestic violence offender. To mitigate the growing pressure, these men may seek refuge in alcoholism or drug abuse to stave off pent up emotional outbursts.
Not crying comes at a great emotional cost and generally results in a shorter lifespan. Human beings who cry occasionally, live longer than their dry-eyed contemporaries.
In contrast to men, women cry more often and live longer than their male counterparts, but if they cry too much, they may find themselves at risk of being diagnosed with any of many neuroses, while women who do not cry might be considered as suffering from alexithymia.
Holding back one’s tears can be likened to willfully and slowly ingesting poison which will result in death, though abstaining from crying can be advantageous, especially in times of crisis. In emergent situations putting off the onset of tears can be hugely beneficial in crisis management and in such professions as military service and law enforcement. In these cases, an emotional release should be encouraged following the sounding of “all clear” or cessation of the crisis.
Refusing to cry and continuing to bottle up your emotions causes stress on the entire biological system and leads to a greater risk of heart disease and premature deterioration of brain function and health. Not crying will also make you more irritable and vulnerable to headaches, high blood pressure, and depression.
Crying is a good thing
The shedding of tears is an essential part of dealing with the wide variety of emotions that we all are blessed with. The ability to cry due to emotional triggers is what separates us from the other lifeforms on this planet, it is an exclusive human gift to be revered. Tears can be an important tool in processing excessive emotions and are likely to appear (if you allow them to be released) in both times of extreme emotional pain or happiness. The enormous outpouring of emotions such as love, compassion, reverent appreciation, or loss can also trigger a tearful emotional release promoting better mental and physical health and well-being.
Even though societal constraints or upbringing may make a tearful expression seem uncomfortable or awkward, nothing could be better for you psychologically and physiologically. Crying is an effective transitional response between emotional overwhelm and a sense of calm, or peace, following a good cry.
Crying allows the release of pent up emotional storages, which are harmful to us as tears release toxins in the body, leading to better health and longevity.
Maybe it’s time you let a tear or two fall, or enjoy a thorough release and let all those emotions careen down your face. It’s okay.