Why We Cry: The Power of Our Tears
People respond to others’ crying in very different ways. Some individuals are uncomfortable if anyone cries around them, let alone crying themselves. Others immediately follow along the “crying-train” after seeing someone else cry, even if they don’t know why that person is crying. Here are some things that you may not know about crying, tears, and the power they both hold inside your body and your brain.
Why We Cry
Reflex and basal tears are different than our emotional tears. Reflex tears show up in reaction to having a piece of dust float into our eye, when we cut onions, or when around smoke. Basal tears are the natural lubricant that keeps your eyes constantly moisturized and from drying out. What I’m wanting to focus on here are the emotional tears. Emotional tears serve a greater purpose than we once thought.
The Healing Power of Tears
Have you ever felt a sense of relief or relaxation after you are done crying?
Well science has proven that emotional tears are made up of biochemicals that release a “feel good” sensation, which is why you may have heard someone say, “I just had a good cry.” One chemical is called leucine-enkephalin, an endorphin that reduces pain and works to improve mood.
I have some clients that have a high guard and do not wish to have me (and sometimes others) see them cry. Now, I can’t exactly force someone to cry in my office if they do not wish to cry, but I have found that educating them on the purpose of crying and the origins of emotional tears, tends to calm their inhibitions of feeling “weak” or vulnerable.
Some Fun Facts About Crying:
Some research has shown that-
Men have smaller tear glands than women, so the volume of tears is shown to be more for women.
Women have more prolactin (another chemical found in tears), which makes us more susceptible to crying, due to a higher emotional state. This prolactin revs up the endocrine system, making people more likely to cry.
Men tend to cry about larger losses while women tend to tear up or cry when frustrated or stressed out.
Holding in your tears has been found to elevate the risk for hypertension, heart disease, and ulcers.
Crying could be considered a “safety mechanism” for our bodies as it rids the body of stress-related toxins.
Babies don’t usually cry when they hear recordings of themselves crying, but do when they hear the crying of someone else
Women cry more- on average, 64 times a year, compared with 17 times for men.
Things change in midlife– as female hormone levels drop, this leaves a higher concentration of testosterone in our bodies. In men, a decline of testosterone makes for increased impact from their female hormones. So, as men get older they tend to cry more, get angry less. As women get older, they tend to cry less and get angry more.
“There is an ancient tribal proverb I once heard in India. It says that before we can see
properly we must first shed our tears to clear the way.” ― Libba Bray
So next time the tears well up in your eyes, whether the problem is big or small, let them go. It does your brain and your body good to release those chemicals. And on that positive note, go and have a good cry.