How to stop yourself from crying
3 weeks ago, 11:00
Crying is entirely normal and healthy, but many of us don’t want to cry in front of other people. When we don’t want to cry in front of other people, is there anything we can do to save face?
Ad Vingerhoets, the author of Why Only Humans Weep: Unravelling the Mysteries of Tears, said there are two distinct components to crying: sounds of vocal distress and the production of tears.
Vingerhoets, a professor of clinical psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, said that distress calls are common among human and animal infants, a product of evolution alerting parents to their offspring’s location and discomfort.
But vocal distress noises can also attract predators. Humans have a prolonged childhood compared to other animals, so perhaps as a protective mechanism, he theorised, we developed tears as a visible way to signal suffering.
When we cry, an emotional stimulus kick-starts a process in the brain and triggers tear release from the lacrimal glands right above your eyes. Vingerhoets said that our reasons for crying change as we age.
Children and infants will cry from physical pain, but adults rarely do. After adolescence, human empathy matures, and adults might cry in reaction to the suffering of others (both in reality and on a screen).
Strong positive emotions from a reunion, team victory or moving artistic performance might cause adults to cry, too.
But according to Vingerhoets, there are two major consistent triggers for adult crying. “The first is helplessness and powerlessness,” he said. “The second, separation and loss.”
IF YOU ANTICIPATE CRYING
If you identify potentially fraught situations beforehand, you can limit your emotional response, said Lauren Bylsma, an assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.
— Cry before you face conflict: If you’re going into a meeting you are dreading, or know a conversation will turn nasty, deal with your emotions before the fact. “Maybe allow yourself to cry it out beforehand,” Bylsma said. “You’ll be more likely to keep your composure if you’ve already done that.”
— Consider the worst-case scenario, and rehearse how to handle it: That way, Bylsma said, you’re prepared to face anything.
— Practice keeping the conversation on track: “Avoid emotion escalation,” Bylsma said. “Stick to the facts, and don’t get caught up in a heated emotional argument. You can rehearse what you are going to say and how you are going to say it, so it doesn’t get too heated.”
IF YOU FEEL TEARS COMING
All too often an emotional situation or conflict catches you unaware. In those cases, there are a few tricks to try for stopping your tears.
— Press the emotional reset button — with your tongue: “Simply push your tongue to the roof of your mouth and you will instantly stop crying,” said Janine Driver, chief executive of the Body Language Institute in Washington.
— Relax your facial muscles: Driver said ...
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