by Cornelius D. Jones
When we think about being healthy, crying is normally not mentioned in the equation. However, when we cry, there are natural chemicals messengers that help to relieve emotional and physical pain. Every time we cry, our body releases endorphins and oxytocin. These are the chemicals that helps us feel good, ease our pain, and promote a sense of well-being. Let me assure you that crying is good for your health. Our tears work like a purgative, draining and purifying us. There is a saying that "A life without rain is like the sun without shade." Crying can be associated with grief, joy, frustration, and sadness. Which are parts of the normal and natural ranges of emotions that all human beings experience.
The misconception of crying has led many to believe that it’s a sign of weakness. That antiquated line of thinking has prevented people from being able to honor their feelings. Crying doesn’t indicate weakness; it demonstrates your strength to be strong enough to let go when your body signals. As a society it is apparent, we aren’t comfortable with seeing others cry. When someone is crying, we are quick to encourage them to stop. We think we are comforting them, but what we are doing is disrespecting their emotional process. There is a metamessage that we send to others when we offer them the tissue while they are crying. That message is “I’m not okay with seeing you cry and wish you would stop.” This is also the reason that I never offer tissue or a napkin to someone when they are crying.
I write this article as both a man and a Black man that understands the cultural conditioning around men crying. I was raised not to cry but wasn't provided with heathy alternatives to deal with my emotions. I frowned throughout my father's funeral when I was 16 years old because I didn't know it was okay to cry. Now that I'm the father of four sons, I want them to know it's okay to cry. Men of all colors feel the same emotions that women feel, regardless of how we try to mask our feelings. It is far healthier in the long run to take off the mask and cry than to cry in silence underneath it. We live in a world where young boys are raised not to cry and are often threaten with punishment for crying. Many of us have either said to or heard a child being told "if you keep crying, I'm gonna give you something to cry for." Think about the awful message that sends to them at an early age. They are being told that it's not okay to cry which robs them of the opportunity to process and release their emotions in a healthy way. It is time to change that narrative and let them and others know it's okay and healthy to cry. Perhaps if more of us adults understood why it's okay to cry, we may stop discouraging children and others from doing it.
To assist with understanding why it's okay to cry, I have listed six benefits to crying that most people don't consider.
Benefits of crying
The next time you need to cry, let go without being apologetic. There is no need to apologize for honoring yourself or feeling. That’s a lot better than pretending you are okay while hurting. However, if you find yourself crying frequently, uncontrollably, and without cause it’s not normal and could be depression.