The Power Of Tears
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Source: (Left) Amber Heard: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool Photo via AP; (Right) Johnny Depp: Evelyn Hockstein / AFP via Getty Images

After weeks of intensive cross-examination and impeccable performance of lawyers, the climatic Johnny Depp v Amber Heard Defamation trial is finally coming to an end tonight. While the whole world is here together waiting for the result, there are intriguing learnings about human psychology that we believe all of us can relate to.

Alright alright, I know you click into this article hoping to see something juicy about borderline personality disorder (BPD) or histrionic personality disorder (HPD). You can learn about them by listening to the gorgeous forensic psychologist, Dr. Shannon Curry, who has given a short but insightful lecture about the two mental health disorder and their impact. We are here offering something equally interesting yet has not much been brought to attention, that is, the power of tears.

If someone told you they have never cried in their life, you would ask Camille Vasquez to call out the BS right away. We obviously do not want to feel sad, but it seems some people choose to cry to achieve something. Let’s take a step back and ask – why do we cry? What does it do for us, and more importantly, what are we trying to get from crying?

Why do we cry?

You will be surprised how much effort has been placed into investigating the benefits of crying. Not only does crying serve as a self-soothing behaviour that relieves emotional tension. It also helps our body release endorphins and oxytocin, chemicals that reduce physical & mental pain and make us feel better. It has been found that drowning in sadness causes emotional distress and physical pain to a certain degree. If you have heard someone going through a bad break-up says, “it is like a knife stabbing my heart”, you know s/he is not kidding! Crying is a naturally developed mechanism for the human being to put a band-aid on a wound.

From the evolution point of view, crying serves an important social function for us to better survive in a gregarious society. When a baby cries, you can’t help feeling an urge to check out what is happening (unless you are a few months into parenthood, sometimes you just want a break). Crying has been embedded in our genes, representing a signal to others, indicating a need for attention and social support. Back in the brutal environment of mother nature, crying and seeking help enhance the survival of an individual as compared to people who suffer in silence.

What are we trying to get from crying?

When survival has become less of a problem for the human race, we started to think a little differently. Alfred Adler, the founder of individual psychology, claimed that all human behaviours are actually goal-oriented. It is quite contradictory to the common belief – we feel sad; therefore, we cry. Adler suggested that we cry to get what we want, assigning a utility measure to the basic behaviour which has believed to be involuntarily driven by emotions. We cry because we want to be heard, we cry because we want to be in the centre of attention, we cry because we want to have that cool toy my classmate’s parents bought him…

While it is a very interesting perspective to dissect human behaviours, it is also important to note that Alder published his theory in the very early stage of psychology. Treating the claim as a philosophy rather than hard-core science might be more appropriate unless evidence suggests otherwise. However, it does not stop us from extracting insights from the guru that has forever changed how we interpret human behaviours.

Be A Master, Not An Actor

Despite numerous attempts to construct a universal explanation, there has yet to be a consensus on how we experience emotions. Human being is the only kind of animal we know that expresses emotions through crying. What we do know is that emotions play a significant role throughout our life whether we like it or not. In modern society, concealing our emotions and vulnerability is often mistakenly perceived as strong and vice versa. But it is not. We have the right to express our emotions, and we can be master of it. We have the inborn capacity to own this almost automatic innate response. How about we start noticing, embracing, and cherishing what our emotions “urge” us to act upon? The very first step of true mastery is to be curious about what is happening in you. Realising how obnoxious it is to act an emotion, it is perhaps also a good time to awaken the true power of emotions in ourselves. Own your emotions, but not the other way around.

The Power Of Tears
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