“Great men don’t cry!“
Growing up daddy would often repeat that statement to Sam, my younger brother. As Sam is sobbing, he would repeat it, “greeeeat meeennnn don’t cryyyyy” (lol- that right there was my best impression of talking while crying). It was so funny to me, and to this day I still tease him about it. Sam had to be 3 or 4 and his understanding of what it took to be a great man was definitely not a priority to him at the time.
As a daddy’s girl, my father is never wrong, but this time he was. Understand that it is not that great men and women don’t cry, they just don’t do it in a public setting. Especially not in front of the people they lead. Picture this; a leader, in any setting, sobbing in front of the people they are leading. Who will take him/her seriously? Yes, of course, it depends on the context of the cry. BUT generally speaking, not one person will take their words of hope and encouragement seriously. At that moment, they need to put on a brave face for their followers and keep the calm in the middle of the storm. So in this instance, it will make sense for the “Great man” not to cry. He/she should most definitely find the right time and place to “release” whatever is bottled up inside.
Initially, when I thought of writing on this topic I was more focused on how crying has benefitted me, but as I did more research into the idea I found there to be a scientific basis to this concept. It is documented that the human body produces three different kinds of tears, the emotional tears, the reflex tears, and the continuous tears. Tears are mainly composed of water, salt, lysozymes, and antibodies.
The emotional tears often present during the time of grief, anger, pain, stress, sorrow, even during times of joy. Reflex tears are designed to protect your eyes from irritants, like when cutting an onion or a strong dusty wind. Continuous tears can occur for a variety of reasons, one being allergies. In a study carried out by the Weizmann Institute of Science, they discuss the composition of the different kinds of tears. Emotional tears produce more protein based hormones, for example, Leucine enkephalin, a natural pain killer. It is thought to be the mechanism behind the relief you feel after crying.
“…reflex tears allow your eyes to clear out noxious particles..” Also that “continuous tears, are produced regularly to keep our eyes lubricated–these contain a chemical called ‘lysozyme’ which functions as an anti-bacterial and protects our eyes from infection.” She also mentioned, “in addition to physical detoxification, emotional tears heal the heart.”
Most people, often male, believe that crying is weak or makes you vulnerable. Crying is our body’s release valve. It releases anxiety, grief, frustration, and sadness. When I am in a very stressful, frustrating or overwhelming position, I like to cry. I know how that may sound. No, it’s not PMS. After crying I feel a sense of relief, I feel that I can make better decisions with a clear mind. After crying we enter into a calmer state emotionally and biologically, our heart rate drops and breathing slows down, a state of peace.
Crying, in my opinion, is the best way to wash out bottled up emotions so they don’t store in the body as stress. Dr. Orlof said “to stay healthy and release stress, I encourage my patients to cry. For both men and women, tears are a sign of courage, strength, and authenticity”. Crying makes us all feel a little better, even when our problems endure.
Humanly speaking great men and women do cry and if they don’t, they should! It is the healthy thing to do.