If you shed tears while watching movies, here’s some uplifting news: you possess great strength and wisdom. In fact, if more individuals shared your emotional depth, tragedies could potentially be avoided. It’s high time to debunk the myth that crying is a sign of weakness.
Let’s shatter the stereotype that equates being emotional with being fragile. We live in a new era where fathers are actively engaged in raising their children, women run large corporations, and children of any gender are aware that they can be intelligent, courageous, and empathetic.
What is it that causes people to cry during movies?
Have you ever found yourself unexpectedly shedding tears while watching a movie? Do you perceive this as a sign of vulnerability? Are you embarrassed when you start sniffling, while those around you remain composed? The truth is, we cry during movies because we empathize with the characters.
Whether it’s a fictional death, an animal in distress, or a historical tragedy, we connect with the emotions on the screen. Empathy is a vital and potent human emotion that deserves to be cherished and expressed, rather than concealed behind tissues and blankets. Empathy is a gift – one we should never overlook.
The gift of empathy is like a magic potion
Empathy is essentially the ability to understand and share another person’s emotions. It is a demonstration of kindness and empathy. When a brave soldier aids in winning a battle, their strength is celebrated. However, what if that battle or even the entire war could have been avoided, saving countless lives? Would the cause of such prevention not also be a symbol of immense strength?
Take a moment to reflect on the darkest times in human history: the Inquisition and witch hunts, the Holocaust, the slave trade, the Mongolian conquest, and the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Now, consider more recent catastrophes like the Syrian Civil War, child abuse, and mass shootings.
Imagine for a moment that there existed a magic potion capable of halting such violence and preventing the worst of humanity. This ‘magic potion’ exists, and it is not magic at all because it already resides within each of us – it is called empathy.
If humans were to practice greater empathy and compassion, they would feel less divided, less superior, and less violent. Instead, they would be more connected, equal, and caring. On an individual level, the practice of empathy leads to healthier relationships and a greater sense of inner peace.
Read: Mentally Strong Kids Have Parents That Do These 10 Things
Now onto the science of it all – it’s not about crying in movies, but more about us as human beings
Paul Zak, a neuroscientist, has conducted research on the impact of captivating stories, demonstrating that watching them can trigger the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is commonly known for its role in childbirth and nursing, as it stimulates contractions during labor and milk flow in lactating women.
Additionally, it is released in response to positive physical touch such as hugging, kissing, and sexual intimacy, as well as positive social interactions. For this reason, oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone.” As social creatures, our survival depends on social bonding. And oxytocin is crucial in helping us identify and connect with our primary caregivers and protective social groups.
According to neuroscientist Robert Froemke, recent studies indicate that oxytocin has a wider impact than just ensuring strong social bonds. In fact, it acts like a “volume dial“, amplifying brain activity related to a person’s current experience. Although oxytocin is biologically targeted toward forming social connections, it also enhances emotional responses.
When you cry during a movie, it indicates that oxytocin has been triggered by the connections you feel from the vicarious social experience of the movie’s story. Your emotions are elicited and attention is captured by the story, leading to heightened feelings of empathy and compassion. This intensifies social connectedness and increases your attention to the social cues of the characters, ultimately resulting in an emotional outpouring.
If you’re not naturally an empathic person, read this:
If you find yourself shedding tears while watching movies, it’s likely because you possess an extraordinary level of empathy. Your subconscious is so attuned to the emotions on the screen that it can even empathize with imaginary suffering. For those who don’t typically cry during movies or struggle to feel empathy toward others, here are some simple tactics to try:
To develop greater empathy, try putting yourself in someone else’s position. For instance, if your friend’s cat died, try to imagine how you would feel if someone you loved passed away. If your neighbor totaled their car, consider how you would feel if you were in an accident and lost your car. If someone you know is struggling with addiction, try to understand how difficult it would be to go without something you crave every day. Like sugar or coffee.
Instead of judging others, try to understand them. When you encounter someone who wears a strong perfume, drives recklessly, is always running late, or has a habit that you don’t agree with, resist the urge to jump to judgment. Instead, please take a moment to reflect on why they might make those choices. You don’t have to agree with their decisions. But considering their motivations can help strengthen your empathy muscle.
Practice listening more and speaking less. During your next conversation, make an effort to simply listen without immediately following up with your own story. Refrain from interrupting the other person and challenge yourself to stay quiet for longer periods of time than you’re used to. By actively listening, you create space to better understand and empathize with the emotions of others.
Empathy is not a weakness, it may actually be more of a strength
Empathy involves the ability to view the world through the eyes of others. It takes courage to demonstrate empathy and it is a gift, skill, and virtue to be cherished, refined, and mastered. If empathy were more widespread and compassion were highly valued in our societies, we could prevent many human-made tragedies, save countless lives, and create a better world for everyone.
Keep Reading: Veterinarian Lends Emotional Advice to Pet-Owners Putting Their Animals Down
- “If you cry while watching movies, it is probably a sign of your emotional strength.” The Conversation. Debra Rickwood. May 29, 2022
- “People Who Cry During Movies Aren’t Weak, They’re Emotionally Strong.” Elite Daily. John Haltiwanger. August 17, 2015