In 1962, radio stations blasted Frankie Valli and the Four Season’s #1 hit, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. Fans listened to the group croon about a painful break-up, one in which the man “was cruel” and the female, despite likely experiencing the pain of rejection and grief over a lost relationship,  claimed, “big girls don’t cry.”  

In the lyrics, the group also asked the question, “I wonder why?”

And so do we. 

For years, society has taught us that crying is not okay; that crying shows weakness or is something to feel ashamed of.  And even if we are taught that there are a few occasions when tears are okay, we are taught that there is a “right time”, a “right reason” and/or a “right place” for crying, and if tears flow outside of those occasions, we are somehow “wrong”. 

It starts when we’re toddlers and are told by even the most well-meaning parents to “stop crying” when something hurts or upsets us. 

It is amplified once we start school and are labelled by our peers as a “cry-baby” if we dare to cry when we fall or feel sad. 

It is exacerbated yet again when we reach the age when we begin to compare ourselves to others, thinking “well, no one else cries when they get hurt or feel upset, so I shouldn’t either.” 

And yet again, when we enter our professional lives, and are taught that emotion has no place in our careers. It is simply, unacceptable. 

However, we’re here to tell you that crying is normal, okay and frankly, an essential part of how we are designed. Crying is one of the ways we can express strong emotions in a healthy, physical way. Heres why:

Most can appreciate, at least on some level, that we all experience the world in different ways. We are all wired differently, with unique genes, personal bents, and contexts. Collectively, these elements impact our perceptions and reactions to things we experience, which trigger our emotions. 

When we experience strong emotions- such as sadness, grief, anger, frustration, and  happiness- the part of your brain that processes these emotions (called the amygdala, for those who like the science-stuff), sends a jolt to your autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for all of the bodily functions we can’t consciously control, such as blood pressure, digestion, body temperature, and the production of bodily fluids (including tears!)

So what happens when the intellect of our conscious mind interferes with this process, fighting with our natural response to physically express our emotions through tears? 

Despite what we like to tell ourselves, our intellect is not smarter than our bodies. Our bodies don’t put emotions aside, simply because we think it’s not acceptable to express them. Instead, the body stores those emotions (and the chemicals and hormones that we released the instant we experienced the strong emotion) inside us.  And while your conscious mind might forget about the incident over time, your body is not quite so forgetful. Those feelings are stored in your cells, and over time, build-up occurs, which then affects the way we think, feel, and respond. 

And it’s not a comfortable place to be. 

To cope, some turn to substances to numb the discomfort. Some distract themselves with work, social media, or television. For others, this “stuckness” shows up in anxiety and/or depression.  

To physically express our emotions through tears is to physically release those feelings. At the same time, the body gives us a little bonus by releasing leucine enkephalins, powerful endorphins that have pain-killing and mood-boosting capabilities. And who doesn’t love a bonus?

You might be thinking, “Okay, I’m sold. From now on I’ll let myself cry when I feel the urge to. And if I’m in a setting I’m not comfortable crying in, I’ll make the conscious effort to experience this emotion as soon as I feel safe to do so. But if I’m storing emotions in my cells that my conscious mind has forgotten, how am I ever going to get these things out of me!”

Great question – we’re glad you asked! At Overcome Anxiety, we use the Body Code to access your subconscious to release these stored emotions. To learn more, visit our website or watch our video to discover how it works.