Why Crying Like A Little Girl Is The Manliest Thing You Can Do

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Provided by AP from Clear Air Turbulence

Why is it always said, he cried like a little girl?

We never say, she cried like a little boy, do we?

For that matter, we never say she cried like a little girl either.

Of course I’m forgetting that’s because it’s acceptable for girls to cry! Silly me. It’s just boys who don’t cry!

Except that’s not true, is it?

Last I checked, little boys cry too.

In fact I know it’s not true, because my two year old boy cries every single day.

And let me tell you something, he’s the happiest person I know.

The. Happiest. Person. I. Know.

It’s odd don’t you think?

How happy and peaceful children can be, yet we adults have such a hard time accessing those same emotions?

It got me thinking as to why that might be. I wondered, ‘it couldn’t be related… could it?’

Could crying, as one example of allowing ourselves to feel and process negative emotions, be exactly what we need to do in order to access positive emotions like peace and joy?

I decided to do a little research.

My first findings confirmed what I suspected – that crying from time to time, contrary to popular chauvinistic belief, is actually a pretty fucking good thing for you to do.

This article from Medical News Today on the benefits of crying noted,

Research has found that in addition to being self-soothing, shedding emotional tears releases oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals make people feel good and may also ease both physical and emotional pain. In this way, crying can help reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being.”

In addition the article also noted that crying reduces stress, boosts your mood, aids sleep, fights bacteria and even improves your vision (remind me to tell some of my older pilot co-workers of this fact).

Jebus!

I figured it must help, but I had no idea it helped this much.

I wonder then, does this account for why we adults (and men in particular) have a much harder time accessing feelings of peace and happiness?

Do we not allow ourselves to cry enough?

Thinking about my own life it certainly makes sense.

Years of depression was a result of not allowing myself to feel exactly what I needed. After uncovering some hard truths and facing those demons head on, following months of therapy, I finally allowed myself to break down (or ‘break open’ as my therapist referred to it, which I much prefer).

It was such an enormous relief to finally let go of what I’d been fighting for so many years. Afterwards I’d felt an inner peace I’d not felt for years. I remember sleeping like a baby that night.

Now I understand the science behind why that was.

More importantly though the harmful narrative I’d clung onto for years finally began to shift. My life has been immeasurably better ever since.

Of course this wasn’t purely because I allowed myself to cry, but I do believe I’d never have been able to properly process and let go of those difficult emotions without doing so.

Recently I’ve been allowing myself to cry more often. I can tell you that’s not easy for a man who has been conditioned by society to keep him emotions under lock and key. Yet in doing so, my life is now filled with far more beauty and meaning.

I cried the other day when holding my son simply because I became aware of how precious it was while he hugged me during a quiet moment. I let myself cry in front of him. I wanted him to know that this is both a normal and healthy thing to do.

I wonder if any of you thinks this make me less of a man?

Did crying when my son was born make me less of a man? When I first held him in my arms?

Did crying on my wedding day make me less of a man? When I stood in front of all my friends and family as I read out my vows to my wife?

These were some of the happiest, most meaningful days and moments of my life.

If the answer is yes then I formally request to be a female because allowing yourself to cry, allowing yourself to feel your emotions, is what makes life beautiful. It’s what allows your difficult emotions to pass. It’s what allows you to find greater peace.

Luckily I don’t have to go through a sex change operation to allow myself to cry.

As it turns out – newsflash everyone – men can cry after all!

Not only can men cry, I found out that it doesn’t result in your life falling apart or your penis falling off.

Unbelievable news I know but completely true! I can confirm this, you see, because last I checked it’s still there.

In fact, I’ll double check now for you… Yep, still there.

Phew!

Do you want to know why men cry?

Because it’s not a female thing to cry. Shock, horror… It’s actually a human thing to cry. It’s in our nature to cry.

I mean of course it is! Evolution wouldn’t have up with crying pointlessly. Think about it.

Why are we the only species on the planet to deny our nature?

This is exactly what makes us all a bunch of lunatics.

Anyway I’ve gotten away from the research that backs all these opinions up, so let me get back to it.

When I dug a little deeper for this post an extremely bizarre statistic stuck out for me like a sore thumb.

I assumed that men, being more prone to bottle up their emotions and ‘do it alone,’ would almost certainly have higher rates of depression.

WRONG.

Women have been found to have higher rates of depression by a factor of nearly two.

There are a number of reasons for this including gender inequality but studies suggest biological factors to be the major determinant.

At any rate, without getting sidetracked into another very important debate, that wasn’t the bit I found weird.

What I found particularly bizarre was the finding that men are three to four times more likely to take their own life than women.

Why would men be three to four times as likely to die from suicide if they are half as likely to become depressed in the first place?

Assuming my very rough maths is correct and assuming that those who commit suicide have first developed depression, then a man with depression is actually 6 to 8 times more likely to kill himself than a women who develops depression does.

Of course you have to take that with a huge amount of salt, but even so…

Wow!

Talk about being a man hey? Or ‘manning the fuck up’ as some my friends might say.

Talk about the strong emotionally resilient men we have built as a society.

Clearly we’ve done a great job at giving men the tools they need to process their own emotions right?

Or maybe not.

Maybe, instead, we ought to rethink our narrative.

Maybe, just maybe, telling our boys not to cry isn’t such a smart move.

Maybe, just maybe, telling our young boys to ‘man up,’ or ‘grow a pair,’ or ‘stop being such a pussy,’ actually hurts both sexes, especially men.

Maybe, just maybe, we need to redefine what it means to be a man in the first instance.

What do you think?

I’ll tell you why I decided to bring this subject up.

I overheard someone we had hired to babysit our son tell him not to cry. It was a women, by the way, it case you were thinking it must be a man. She clearly didn’t mean any harm but I had to say something.

I asked her if she’d have said the same thing to a girl, or whether she would, in fact, have picked her up and comforted her?

(FYI Research shows that mothers talk more on average with their girl children, including sharing and identifying emotions, as opposed to their boy children.)

I let her know how damaging I believe telling children not to cry is.

I told her that I hope my son always allows himself to cry if he feels the need and that I will never allow him to be shamed for doing so in my household.

Never.

After going away and giving it some more thought, I realised something else.

A deeper problem that many of us might have with other people crying. And how this problem can likely be attributed to telling our boys not to cry.

I suspect many of our distraction techniques aren’t about helping the child so much as a strategy by adults to avoid issues they themselves have about how crying makes them feel.

I believe it’s the adult who often has the problem, whether they are conscious of it or not.

I know whenever my child cried, early on in the weeks shortly after he was born, it brought up intense feelings for me. I felt like a failure every time I was unable to settle him. I would say, “why doesn’t he like my breastmilk as much as my wife’s?”

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself with that joke.

Seriously though, on occasions he’d cry for long periods, without successfully calming him down, I would get very angry with him (not historically an emotion I’ve had a lot of trouble with). I would get so angry that I had to leave the room. Now I was never going to hurt him, but that anger was new to me.

It felt very intense.

What quickly followed, whenever I gave up by leaving him in another room, was intense feelings of remorse.

How could I treat him like that?

How could I just abandon him in his cot when he’s crying?

Why am I taking an infant crying so personally?

What the fuck is wrong with me?

Clearly I had some serious shit to work through. Yet in a typically male way, I didn’t seek any help, didn’t talk about it, nor did I let myself cry.

I just beat myself up.

(FYIAll of these can be explained as reasons why men have a harder time dealing with depression and why they are more likely to commit suicide – see this article for more details)

It wasn’t until one day when I got home from work that I saw my son playing on the living room floor. In that moment I felt nothing but an overwhelming repulsion to get away from him. I didn’t want to be with him. I didn’t want to father my son. My gorgeous boy.

This time the remorse that came flooding up was too much. I went to the bedroom closed the door and started to cry.

I cried like a little girl.

No.

I cried like a man.

I let myself really cry. When I was finished I remember seeing with such clarity, there was no doubt about what it was I needed to do next. I reached for the phone and spoke to someone. I finally asked for the professional help I knew I’d needed for a long time.

Crying was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.

It gave me the clarity to see what I needed.

It gave me the courage to ask for help.

I can’t emphasise that last statement enough.

Crying gave me courage.


CLOSING WORDS

To all men who feel conflicted about their need to cry, it’s important to understand that crying doesn’t mean you’re not capable of dealing with your emotion. It means you are dealing with your emotions. Please understand it’s perfectly ok to do so.

Equally don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. There is no shame in this. There is nothing unmanly about asking for help or showing emotions. We all need help from time to time. That’s part of the human experience.

Don’t think you need to ‘man the fuck up,’ or stop ‘crying like a little girl.’

If it helps consider the phrase, ‘man the fuck up and cry.’

In doing so you might just shatter the bullshit stereotype of what it actually means to be a man.

In doing so you might just have a greater understanding of what it is to be human.

In doing so you might give this world something it needs more than another macho man incapable of accessing his own emotions.

(Thank you to all for taking the time to read. I’m very curious to know your thoughts and get a proper debate going. To challenge my views so I can grow. Please help me cry by leaving your comments below. I welcome ALL opinions.)


ADDITIONAL SOURCES/FURTHER READING

BBC Article: Why more men than women die by suicide

Medical News Today Article: Eight benefits of crying: Why it’s good to shed a few tears

Happiness is here blog post: 10 things for parents to say instead of ‘stop crying.’

Janet Lansbury’s blog post: No Bad Kids – Toddler Discipline Without Shame (9 Guidelines)

This study examined gender differences in emotion word use during mother–child and father–child conversations.

This study explores why depression is more prevalent in women

For those who might be dealing with depression and/or struggling with thoughts of suicide it goes without saying I hope you can find the strength to reach out and talk to someone. Coming back from the brink isn’t easy, but it’s never too late. Never. Below is a list of various hotlines and websites in which you can seek help.

HELPLINES, SUICIDE HOTLINES, AND CRISIS-LINES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Local Websites And Emergency Contact Numbers

https://www.befrienders.org

https://www.samaritans.org

https://www.who.int/mental_health/en/

https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/international/global-mental-health

Originally posted on Clear Air Turbulence

56 thoughts on “Why Crying Like A Little Girl Is The Manliest Thing You Can Do

Add yours

    1. Thank you – I’m glad you agree. The narrative is one that’s very difficult to shift. We see these “male” traits of being emotionally detached and not needing help, as being strong – but are they? I really worry about what we teach our young boys about their relationship to their own emotions

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I believe they’re heavily related. Crying is often a way to express that we need help. We need consoling. It’s a way of asking for it. Perhaps as men we don’t allow ourselves to cry for this reason. It’s not so much the idea of crying so much as the idea that we might need help? Thank you for the comment. 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  1. so, once again it is confirmed: listen and hear and trust yourself, and you will know what is good for you (instead of what you are told is good for you). our physiology exists for a reason; to be used and not oppressed. it is the instant feedback in the most natural way. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Spot on! This is our nature. I believe it’s this process – of allowing our emotions to pass – that we need to go through in order to ‘die’ to our past so we may live in the present. If we don’t we may become stuck in a very dangerous place. Thank you for your comment. 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this truthful message. We need to feel our feelings. Otherwise, we are like robots. Not good!! How much better we would all be if we all just broke open as you say and embraced the fact that we are emotion filled beings? I’ll be sharing this post with my son.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The post is directed at men yes – but there’s no question this narrative hurts women as well! The same way we hold these “male” traits to be “strong” we are telling our young girls they are not. My opinions expressed are very pro-feminism. The danger we have with the evolution of feminism is teaching our young girls the same thing – that this is what it means to be strong. This isn’t a smart move. A world in which neither sex is able to properly access and process their emotions is one we cannot allow. Thank you bringing this up. I’m glad it resonated with you. 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, yes, I completely agree. It’s strange, but I don’t think my negative reaction to crying comes from a gender specific ideology, but a weirdly gender-neutral aversion to showing weakness too much. It’s more like in my mind there’s an appropriate amount of crying, and any more than that is a negative. At the very least I’m aware that this is a negative thought process.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. That was beautiful, thanks a lot. And congratulations. It’s not easy to let yourself cry and it’s even more difficult to ask for help. Let alone to say it in public. A truly beautiful post.

    On a less serious note, this issue always reminds me of The Fight Club, with Edward Norton going to group therapy, faking a cancer he didn’t have, so that he could let himself cry or else he wouldn’t be able to fall sleep.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s easy as a child but somewhere along the way we teach ourselves not to cry and then it becomes hard. The more I talk about my problems publicly the more I understand the shame I attach to them has no weight. Never thought about that scene from Fight Club – The phrase ‘crying yourself to sleep’ clearly has merit! Thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This was a great post. Everyone should be able to cry if they need to, so I’m glad you wrote about this. We touched on this topic in my Health Sciences degree and I remember thinking I’d like to delve further into it, but then my interest was swayed towards the gut microbiome.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you. I’m so glad you liked it! I completely agree. The same way no one should feel shame about admitting they have a problem, no one would should have to feel shame for crying.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “Equally don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. There is no shame in this”.
    Exactly.People need to realize how important it is to express their emotions. It is okay to feel your feelings.
    But the problem is, most people don’t have someone to confide in.
    Nice post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Not having someone to confide in – who they can trust won’t judge them for sharing their feelings – is a big part of the problem, especially for men. Excellent point. I would add there is always help available – numbers you can call – people you can trust and talk to. It takes courage but these people – these professionals – want to help. Thank you🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful post. Expressing in whatever form one finds comfortable is critical to happiness. All talk of men crying equals feeble or lady like is utter disregard to towards emotions. I have seen men cry yet being strong as rock.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much. Couldn’t agree more.The men who can recognise when they need to grieve – when they need to express certain emotions – who are brave enough to allow themselves to do so – these are the most resilient and courageous men I know.

      Like

    1. Not crying is a product of not allowing yourself to feel certain emotions – it’s an example of going against your nature. I think this definitely leads to more problems than it solves. Thank you for your comment.

      Like

    1. Interesting proverb. I think it works both ways. Showing weakness around wolves is a mistake – but showing it around the right people (animals?) can also be your salvation. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Crying relieves a human body from the stressful thoughts and after glow is amazing. 😀
    Male or female, a human has emotions. It is sad that society has created such disgusting rules which harm a human body.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. THIS IS INCREDIBLE. I used to cry a lot when I was little. However, I started feeling embarassed after being vulnerable in front of others. I started associating crying with being weak and forced myself to control my emotions. Years of supressing my emotions have made me into an emotional mess. I long to cry now, happy tears at least. I want to let my guard down and cry freely rather than bottling up my emotions. I just hope I’m able to do it soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s a paradox. Allowing ourselves to be weak actually allows us to become stronger. A bit like building something back up after breaking it down. I don’t think its something that has to be done publicly – in front of people you trust is probably best – but I do think it’s important not to attach any shame to it. There is nothing weak about it. That’s just a belief we attached to it. Thank you for your words. I wish you the best. 🙏

      Like

  9. Agreed. We absolutely need to do away with negative gender stereotypes. Crying is a healthy biological function and nothing to be ashamed of. Nice post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This was an amazing post. I would add something. I think allowing ourselves to feel hurt has been beaten out of us. We are supposed to stay upbeat but crying signifies you feel enough to need it to come out in some way. Boy or girl, emotions are emotions. its time we just let them happen and not think of it as not being brave enough.
    Great post

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I complete agree. I think there’s a real danger in telling people to be optimistic all the time. We imply that anything other than being happy isn’t normal. All emotions – negative or otherwise are normal. We need to stop beating ourselves up for having them. Thank you for your kind words 🙏

      Like

  11. Crying is human nature. Not only for woman but also man. Why’d we be so denial? I think society must allow men to cry and encourage them to let go of their emotions without being stigmatized.
    I love this post!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Thanks! I really like writing that challenges conventional wisdom. By the way, I’ve long thought that there is almost no real wisdom in conventional wisdom. And stereotypical thinking is literally killing us.

    Like

  13. Crying is human. Whatever reasons we have for needing to release tears, they are ok.

    I find it difficult to cry myself, my body almost rejects the idea at times as it has been conditioned to. I’m working on it, and others ways of healthily processing my emotions – good ones and bad ones.

    Thank you for encouraging positive discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

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