Why Do We Cry, and How Can We Benefit From it?

why-do-we-cry

Just about everyone has had one of those days where you do not really feel as if you are on completely solid ground, where you may feel as if you are on the verge of tears at the slightest pointed remark aimed at you. This makes sense, as people are naturally emotional and social creatures.

At their core, people want to be able to confide in others and let their emotions out, but in many cases, there are just some emotions that are not always best to let out.

A good example of this is crying, as many people all around the world have been told that crying indicates weakness, pain, or another negative connotation that someone wouldn’t want to be seen with. This is especially the case for men and other people who were raised in households that did not allow for open crying.

No matter how one may have been raised, there is no denying that there are emotional and biological factors that play into crying.

Humans are the only creatures that shed tears for emotional purposes, and the reasons for this remain in a grey area of research. There are many triggers for crying, with the most common triggers being pain, loss, grief, and complete powerlessness. Other triggers can include empathetic crying, crying due to separation, and simply to help yourself feel better.

What Purpose Does Crying Serve for Yourself?

While scientists may not be completely certain on why do we cry, they do know that there are some important benefits that come from having a good cry session when you are feeling down. For example, crying is most commonly associated with how a person copes with a very strong stimulus, and it can help with allowing your brain time to process emotions and feelings, especially in a tumultuous environment.

For some people, these lines may even be crossed into crying for joy, or for another reason that isn’t necessarily negative.

Crying comes from a mix of emotions and is often an indication that one needs to take some time for themselves to process those emotions. An example of this is when a spouse finds out that he or she is being cheated on and needs a night to cry about it. Emotions in this case can range from anger, loss, regret, sadness, and everything in between.

By comparison, a fair few people don’t cry at funerals or deaths, as the emotion here is usually a very one-noted sense of loss or grief.

With these thoughts in mind, the purpose that crying serves for you, on your own, is that it is your brain’s way of processing complex and often very strong emotions. Some people may not cry at the death of a loved one the day the news breaks, but as that person processes the grief and adapts to the loss, there may be sessions of crying as the person brings regrets, fear, and uncertainty into the mix of loss.

This isn’t the only reason why people cry though.

What Purpose Does Crying Serve for Others?

Humans, without a doubt, are social animals. No matter how antisocial someone chooses to be when they are having an emotional moment, humans are hardwired to be social creatures who interact with other people. Crying comes into play as a way for people to communicate their emotions to each other.

This is not to be confused with a baby crying. Babies of all species wail to get the attention of their mothers and in general discomfort of the strange new world that they have been born into.

Humans, once grown beyond the baby stage of crying, will cry because they are expressing frustration, or if they want to have some degree of attention (not even consciously), and sometimes if they need a form of comfort. The last point is more commonly seen in younger children, but is still a reason why someone may feel more comfortable crying around people close to them, as it is an innate way to seek comfort from another person.

More often than not, when people need to be alone to cry, it stems from negative associations with crying that were brought on by other children or parents, as crying is still seen as a sign of weakness, sensitivity, and other less desirable connotations. Despite this, crying can still serve a purpose when relating to other people as a form of communication.

The Steps to Having a Good Cry

Most people will end up crying spontaneously, often due to a triggering circumstance. However, there are many people in the world who may not handle their emotions as efficiently as they could, leading to a build-up of negative thoughts and feelings.

When a person is reaching his or her breaking point in this area, that person will often feel on the verge of tears or overly sensitive to innocuous comments. These are signs that you might need to take some time to yourself to cry it all out, but then the question becomes a matter of “how.”

Depending on your state of mind, there are a few different ways that you can incite a time to cry where you can be alone (or with a loved one, if you feel more comfortable with this).

Some people may intentionally trigger themselves to get the tears flowing, while other people might need to work a little bit harder to force the tears to come. Keep in mind that the healthiest way to make yourself cry is to let it come naturally, but there are cases where helping yourself cry can be beneficial in relieving stress.

Also, keep in mind that you may also have some mental blocks relating to how you feel about yourself that can impact your ability to cry. Always remember that it is okay to feel the way that you do and that your emotions are something to be validated and recognized, especially when you are feeling stressed and worn out. Remembering these things will help you feel a little bit more at-ease when helping yourself cry.

Bringing Out the Tears

There are more than a few things to consider when thinking about how to make yourself cry. Most people will opt to “trigger” themselves into crying by playing a favorite tearjerker film that has the saddest scenes that you can think of.

Other people, especially those who enjoy music, might find that listening to sad songs can help bring the tears out from behind your eyes. If you’re really in the mood for it, you can also consider playing both at the same time, assuming that they do not clash. 

Naturally, if you are going to look at how to have a good cry, you are going to want to help yourself out as much as possible. You will first want to focus on helping yourself get comfortable, finding a place in your house where you can cry safely, wearing looser clothes, and surrounding yourself with comforting objects.

Crying is often seen as being vulnerable, so having this comforting atmosphere can help you feel more that it is “safe” to cry within your home, which can help bring the tears out.

From there, you will need to work on getting into the headspace for crying. This starts by acknowledging what you are feeling, why you might be feeling that way, and why you might feel as if you need to cry. You shouldn’t spend your energy focusing on feeling guilty or shameful for crying, and you should instead remember that this is a normal human behavior to help oneself reduce stress and process emotional situations. By getting yourself comfortable with crying, it will be even easier to let the tears fall.

The Best Places to Cry

Finally, you will want to find the best place to cry. Many people cry in the shower for reasons other than “hiding one’s tears.” The shower, especially when it is running on hot, can feel relaxing and soothing while you are crying and the natural steam can help you stay unclogged.

If you are wearing makeup, the water from the shower will also help you not worry as much about what the tears might do to your mascara, since you will already be in the shower.

Many people also find that their bedrooms are another good place to cry. Bedrooms are often seen as a safe, somewhat secluded place to be, making it perfect for when you need to be alone to cry to yourself. More often than not, you will also have soft blankets, pajamas, and maybe even a pillow or two to scream into in the bedroom, making it a well-equipped room to cry in.

These are just some of the things to consider when you feel that it is one of those days where you need to cry to yourself to help process everything that is going on in your life. Teaching yourself that it is okay to cry is one of the best things that you can do for your mental health and your future, as it is an incredibly efficient way for your body to process stress.

Conclusion

When it comes to crying, most people feel that they are supposed to hide it, if they even allow themselves to cry at all. Crying is seen as vulnerable, sensitive, and weak, when in reality, it is one of your brain’s built-in mechanisms for handling overwhelming emotions. If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed by the way that life is treating you, or how past events have ended up, it may be worth considering having some time to yourself to let it all out.