Can I learn how to cry as a man? How do you make yourself cry as a man? Why is it so hard to cry as a man? What are the common misconceptions about crying as a man? What are the benefits of crying as a man? If you are looking for answers to these and more questions, this article is for you.
Hi. My name is Sean Galla, and I am a facilitator for online support groups for men, including emotional support groups. My work involves creating safe spaces where men can be free to talk and learn how to express their feelings positively. I know firsthand how helpful learning how to adequately express emotions can be for anyone’s emotional health, especially men, who have been told for generations that it is not ok for them to express their feelings or even cry. If you are looking for guidance on how to express your feelings or even cry as a man, this article is for you.
In this article, you will learn how to cry as a man and lead a more emotionally balanced life.
Table of Contents:
Why Men Don’t Cry
“You are very sensitive for a guy, be a man and take care of it, “real men don’t cry” – these are common comments made to men whenever they try to express their emotions. Most men grew up in a society that shuns and ridicules when men cry. From the time they were young boys, men have often been made to believe that the true measure of a man is how he handles his emotions, which is most of the time not showing any at all.
Whether the message was subtly communicated through bullying, society, the media, parents, teachers, or even figures in society, men learned that being a crier is a sign of weakness that is shameful and only allowed amongst women. Most men grew up around people who compelled them to stop crying to appear strong and unemotional. This was seen as the only way to be socially accepted and desirable in the company of others. This is why most men find it hard to let go and have a good cry.
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The Man-up Culture
One of the most trending ideas, especially in western cultures, is that big boys don’t cry. This social attitude has long been instilled in young boys to teach them how to withhold emotions to uphold the masculine image or identity.
The male idea to hold back tears dates back to the 1800s, when factory workers were forbidden from crying as factory owners thought it reduced productivity. On the contrary, recent reports published in the Psychology of Men and Masculinity journal show that athletes who show emotion or cry have higher self-esteem, reflected in their performance.
Most men have felt emotionally overwhelmed and have wanted to shed a tear and let it all out at some point. However, due to higher levels of societal pressure and the ingrained belief that men do not cry, they have often been forced to put up a front to appear physically strong and unmoved by emotions at the expense of men’s mental health.
As a man, it is essential to understand that crying is okay. Apart from just being water, tears come with a sense of relief and can be a healthy way of letting out pent-up emotions and even anger.
Emotional Suppression and Mental Health
While society wants everyone to believe that women are more emotional than men and more prone to mental health issues, studies prove the contrary. According to research, men are 3.5 times more likely to die of suicide than women. This clearly indicates the lack of mental health awareness and the laxity in seeking help amongst men.
Because of the fear of stigma, men are less likely to seek mental health support, which forces them to ignore their emotions or pretend that their stress is non-existent. This is further proven by the fact that one in ten men experience anxiety and depression, with less than half seeking help.
These numbers are clear indications that most men suffer in silence. The lack of support from society or loved ones leads men to harmful coping behavior like addictions, substance use, and self-harm.
Why Humans Cry – Types of Tears
Most men believe that tears are just water and see no need to shed them. However, there are different types of tears made up of different chemicals.
Eye-watering or reflex tears
This type of crying is triggered when something irritates your eyes, like cutting an onion. These types of tears are meant to protect the eyes from acidic fumes and irritants. The tears watch off the irritants as a way of cleaning the eyes.
Continuous or basal tears
This type of tears covers the eyes every day. They comprise fast-acting anti-viral and anti-bacterial lysozyme that can kill up to 95% of harmful bacteria in minutes. Since the eyes are a moist environment, basal tears create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, hence the need for lysozyme.
These are tears produced by tear ducts when someone cries. Unlike the first two types, emotional tears comprise endorphins and encephalin, a natural pain killer. These tears also contain a high amount of manganese, proteins, and prolactin hormone, commonly produced when a person is met with stress-inducing danger or arousal.
According to a study, crying helps to release toxic substances from the body. Crying is also a self-soothing method that can elevate your mood and make you feel better. Most people who cry report an improvement in their overall mood.
Why Men Should Cry
Suppressing your emotions by avoiding crying can be damaging to mental health. Generally, men are less likely to access mental healthcare because of the stigma associated. Every man needs to know that it is ok to cry as a man. Crying is a healthy way of processing emotions and comes with many physical and emotional benefits.
According to a study done in 2014, crying is a self-soothing behavior with many health benefits. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system that puts your body in a rest and digest mode, making it easier for you to relax during stress.
Through crying, men can learn to express their emotions, which gives them a chance to process them. When you cry, your body releases oxytocin and endorphins that help soothe pain and elevate your mood by reducing stress hormones, leaving you feeling much better.
Men who hide or dismiss their emotions suffer from repressive coping styles, which have negative consequences. These include:
- cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension
- lower immune system function
Many studies have linked repressed emotions with various mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, stress, and more.
Being unable to cry freely can also affect your social life, making you less empathetic of other people’s emotions.
How to Cry as a Man
Explore your reactions
Most people with suppressed emotions often show little to no reaction, even when faced with highly emotional circumstances such as loss or watching very sad movies. If you are used to sitting with your feelings or shrugging them off, this may be the reason stopping you from adopting natural ways of emotional expression, like crying.
Start getting comfortable with expressing your emotions
Most people avoid expressing their emotions because they are afraid or confused by their feelings. To become better at accepting or acknowledging emotions, you can try:
- Saying how you feel aloud, even if it’s just to yourself. You can use words like ‘I am sad, ‘I feel angry,’ or ‘I feel hurt’ to express your feelings.
- Writing down your feelings – keeping a journal can make connecting with your emotions easier while learning how to describe them.
Find a safe space to express your emotions
Being shy about expressing your feelings in public for the first time is okay, as this takes time. To ensure you are not avoiding your emotions for fear of expressing them publicly, you can find a private space to freely sort and express intense emotions, even by crying. This can be in the company of a best friend, loved one, or even alone in a room.
If you are a man who struggles to cry, you may struggle with emotional expression in general. Seeking therapy can be beneficial for you in many ways. In the first place, therapy can teach you how to be more comfortable with your emotions and even healthy ways of expression.
Join a support group
One of the reasons most men find it hard to cry or express their emotions is the feeling that no one understands. Men’s support groups are supportive communities for men that encourage free emotional expression without judgment. Joining a men’s emotional support group such as Men’s Group makes it easy for men to be amongst other men who are open to emotional expression. This helps to normalize emotional expression and even cry.
More About MensGroup
Men’sGroup is an online emotional support group for men. If you want to learn how to cry as a man, being part of a men-only emotional support community is one of the best ways to ensure you get personalized support and help.
This community of men is dedicated to supporting each other through life’s challenges and changes. Being part of a men-only support group ensures that you get a free space to share, vent, cry and learn in a safe space without fear of judgment or being misunderstood.
The Bottom Line
Learning how to express your emotions is essential to living a happy and complete life. By following the tips highlighted in this article, you will have an easier time expressing yourself to the people around you. Emotional support groups like Men’s Group offer a safe place for men to learn how to express their emotions and channel their feelings positively.