Did that puppy in the Budweiser Super Bowl commercial get to you? Maybe a little misty eyed? No? How about watching runners give everything they have in their being to finish a marathon? Or when they ran out of soy milk at Starbucks right before your order?
That lump in your throat you can’t gulp away is so frustrating—the watering eyes that Tom Hanks lost his shit about in A League of Their Own. When was the last time you cried without saying, I’m sorry? Just let the tears drizzle down without feeling guilty and apologizing for it? Probably a long time ago—if ever. Because as women have moved into previously male-dominated areas of the workforce and outdoor sports, we hold ourselves up against the male behavioral status quo, seeing crying as a weakness or a sign of being out of control. Sure, there are mature and immature ways to handle emotions. But feeling emotions doesn’t mean we’re crazy—and sometimes having a good cry is exactly what the doctor ordered.
In a recent New York Times opinion piece, psychiatrist Julie Holland blasted Americans’ recent tendency to see feelings and emotions as inherently problematic—to see sadness as a disease and overmedicate in response. “Women are moody,” she wrote. “By evolutionary design, we are hard-wired to be sensitive to our environments, empathic to our children’s needs, and intuitive of our partners’ intentions. This is basic to our survival and that of our offspring … But they do have emotional implications. Women’s emotionality is a sign of health, not disease; it’s a source of power.”
She says we’re under constant pressure to control our emotions under wraps, especially with pharmaceutical companies dumping massive dollars into advertising that makes us feel guilty about feeling at all. What’s an emotional lady to do? Is it OK to tear up watching a puppy on a Super Bowl commercial? To have a private cry in the bathroom after a stressful meeting at work? Or let some emotions fly when we’re digging deep, mustering courage to send a climbing route?
Yes. Here are five good reasons to let ‘er rip and cry if you want to.
It will relieve some stress. Crying actually releases stress hormones. Seriously. If you want to feel better fast, letting those tears flow is a quick way to feel better.
It’s a legitimate way to fully enjoy a beautiful moment. Beautiful sunset in a place you love? Puppy kisses? A newborn niece? Why not fully embrace the emotion of the moment?
It helps you fully experience and move through pain or grief. Whether it’s the pain of a rough yearly review at work or losing a loved one, crying can be a part of actually experiencing sadness. It’s OK to feel emotionally down, and crying is a way of physically shaking it off, so you can move on with life.
Experiencing empathy for another person can lead to action, making the world a better place. If we never let ourselves feel the scary, sad, heartbreaking things in the world around us, if we never put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and cry one of their tears, we’ll become a race of cold, unfeeling people.
Because it just feels goddam good.