Crying explained: Why there is actually psychological truth to the saying “have good cry”

“Human beings are born with the ability to recover from experiences of loss, fright, confusion and frustration. The recovery process is the release that occurs through crying, raging, trembling, talking, playing and laughing. Children must be allowed full expression of their painful feelings” (Solter, 1989).

One of the first light bulb moments in my connection parenting journey was when I found out about the evidence behind crying. That it not only removes toxins and stress hormones from the body, but also reduces tension. Dr William Frey researched the chemical content of human tears and found that the tears shed for emotional reasons were different chemically from the tears shed due to an irritant (such as a cut onion). He suggested that the purpose of emotional crying was to remove waste products/toxic substances from the body (Frey, 1985).

Crying is a natural physiological and psychological process to release stress, grief and hurt. When you have a cry you are literally washing the stress hormones out of your body, making it easier for the body to come back to into equilibrium (Idleman, 2013).

“Individuals accumulate tensions in their lives that they naturally try to offload. If distracted, or prevented from crying, one does not get the opportunity to release these pent up tensions. If these tensions are not processed, they remain stored and result in emotional and physical problems. Brain research has proven that crying is an important inborn process by which the brain recovers from hurt (Solter, 1989; Siegel and Hartzell, 2004).

Crying heals past hurts, as long as someone is there to listen and offer connection. Babies, children and adults know exactly what they need to do to heal and show us this all the time. According to Rose (2014) “our children keep inviting us to the heart of intimacy: physical closeness; eye contact; deep joy through play; setting free sadness through crying; liberating fear through laughter; letting loose frustration through raging. They feel relief through release, acceptance of all their feelings, and deep connection with themselves and us”.

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