By virtue of what I do I meet lots of people who are very emotional. This is both men and women, though in my experience women find it a lot easier than the men. In therapy men often found it easier to work with a female therapist so that they do not feel so bad if the get emotional, our cry. Somewhere along the line we decided that men should be tough and it was okay for women to be vulnerable. We can come with a lot of evolutionary reason as to why that might be, but the reality in the present is that we all need to be able to express our feelings to be emotionally healthy.
We measure cardiovascular fitness by measuring how long it takes for your system to return to normal after you heart has topped out at in maximum beat rate. Our emotional health can be seen in the same way. How long does it take for us to return to normal after our emotions have spiked? In both cases the quicker that we can return our system to normal then the healthier we are.
We also know that once human kind left the African plains and headed north that they traded emotion for logic in order to survive the harsh weather and long winters. There is no room for error when you are in the cold because you simply die and that is the end of it.
Emotion is a powerful thing that enable us to drive forward and achieve what we need and want both individually and as a species. However emotion with out logic is senseless energy and can be destructive, just look at plastic, a great idea where no one thought about the consequences. Emotions are a normal part of the human system and should be seen as important as the heart or the brain. Without emotion we would be dead, we would not exist.
Neuroscience is clear that if we hold onto emotion and fail to express it as we need to then we become ill. trapped and unexpressed negative emotion creates psychosomatic illness primarily in the heart, lungs and gut but generally through out our organs and especially in the muscular skeletal system. More working days are lost through a bad back than anything else though this tension may be confused with anxiety or depression, it is the muscular tension that is the problem.
I want to focus on tears. We have made immense strides in understanding what tears are and how important they are to us. My resource on the podcast is a link to a site that shows the microscopic images of different tears and shows quite clearly that tears are different. The constituents in tears of joy, sadness, anger, grief, laughter and so on are all different.
What is emerging is that the human brain, unlike other animals, developed to extend the abilities and organs of the higher cortex, we call this intelligence. We also seem to be the only animals on the planet that cry. Or, perhaps we should say, need to cry. Why is this?
It seems that the human brain produces hormones and endorphins that are useful when required but when over produced need to be excreted because they can become harmful. The way that we normally excrete them is in our tears when we cry. We now know that when we hold our tears in the resultant stress on the vagus nerve that runs from the mid brain lambic system down through the body negatively stimulates the heart and other organs and we have a stress or ‘fight and flight’ response. When we cry the pressure comes of the vagus nerve and the stress response dies down.
I suspect that there is a strong correlation between the longevity of both men and women and their ability to cry. I suspect that because men cry less their body systems tend to be under more self imposed hormonal stress than the bodies of women.
However you look at it neuropsychology is clear that we need to cry more and not hold our emotions in. When we do this we, let our emotions go, we create greater emotional fitness.
Take care, be happy and if you are not feel free to cry about it