I want to cry but I can’t, what should I do?

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In this blog we will discuss the question “I want to cry but I can’t, what should I do?”.

We will also explore what it means when you want to cry and you can’t and why it happens. 

I want to cry but I can’t, what should I do?

If you have been feeling emotionally numb and have  been thinking to yourself “I want to cry, but I can’t”,here are a few things you can try:

  • Identify your emotions 
  • Start Labelling your emotions
  • Notice your thoughts
  • Allow yourself to feel
  • Express your emotions
  • Acknowledge your feelings
  • Seek out support
  • Seek out professional help

The process of allowing yourself to regulate your emotions and overcome emotional numbness is not an easy task; you can’t just wake up one day and decide that you are going to feel everything and cry your heart out. 

It takes a lot of patience and a steady step towards getting in touch with how you feel, recognising these feelings, and acknowledging them. Let us look at how you can achieve emotional release following the steps mentioned.

Identify your emotions 

The first thing that you can do is to identify your emotions and if you are thinking to yourself “But I feel nothing.” Tell yourself exactly that. 

Identify your feeling of numbness and sit with it. It is okay to feel this way and it does not make you abnormal- in fact, emotional numbness is quite common in people who are feeling overwhelmed with emotions and their experiences in life. 

So don’t judge yourself for how you feel and the fact that you are unable to cry, instead identify it and acknowledge the very fact. This can be your first step.

Start Labelling your emotions

Now, the next thing you can do is to spend your days labelling every emotion that you come across. Even if you cannot cry, that might not mean that you don’t get angry or irritated or worried. 

Your feelings might come up because of work- because your subordinate has not been able to do their task on time, so that might be making you irritated and angry. 

So when you come across these feelings, in your everyday activities- take one a tiny notepad or your phone and type down these feelings- label each emotion that you come across and recognise that these feelings come and go like all feelings do. 

This step should be done with the intent to help you come to see that feelings are just that- feelings; they cannot hurt you and they are part of everyday life. 

Notice your thoughts

As you label these emotions- take time to make a note of the circumstances surrounding these emotions and the thoughts that come along with these emotions. 

No matter how these thoughts might sound to you in retrospect, note them down without judgement. 

Towards the evening reflect on your day- how you felt and what you thought at that moment of intense feelings. Do not judge your feelings or your thoughts; instead take the time to simply understand and observe. 

Allow yourself to feel

As you reflect on what happened in the day time, allow yourself to feel- if you feel ashamed, let yourself feel that- write it down if you want to. 

If you feel further angered- note that down too while you allow yourself to feel angry. You are in control. These feelings are part of your experience, they do not determine your life nor do they determine who you are. 

Express your emotions

Once you get familiar with how you are feeling- take notice that all of these practices in the first few steps might take you days and even weeks, for some people months. 

However, for the sake of your own precious self, take the time to put into practice these steps towards emotional release and as you become familiar, take the risk of expressing them.

Being vulnerable with your feelings- by sharing it with other people or by acknowledging it to yourself- can be a difficult step to take so to make it easier what you can do is to express it more artistically by writing, painting, singing a song, dancing, making a home movie etc. 

Acknowledge your feelings

As you express yourself, how you feel and how heavy it has been for you to hold back all these emotions for so long; take notice of it- don’t react to it rather choose to sit with these emotions- acknowledge them. 

One reason why you might have the tendency to suppress your emotions is because you have been told to do so by someone else or perhaps your emotions have been disregarded by various people in our life for so long- You don’t have to be like them.

Instead, give yourself a hug, hold your own hand, pat your own head in comfort, and allow yourself to express how you feel to yourself with I-statements like “i feel hurt.” “I feel disrespected.” “I feel so sad.” “I feel so alone.”

Seek out support

Another thing that you can do is to talk to your loved ones about how you are feeling and how you are struggling with being unable to cry. 

A trusted friend, family member, and mentor can help you look deeper into yourself or even provide you that support and acknowledgement that you have been needing for a long time as well. 

Seek out professional help

If you have been trying everything mentioned above and none of it seems to be helping, seek out professional help. Emotional numbness can be a sign of anhedonia- which is a symptom of depression. 

While you might not be depressed, being unable to access your emotions is unhealthy in the long run so find a therapist that you can click with- it takes a few tries- and work with them to learn how to emotionally regulate.

Your therapist might also suggest that you cut out medical or biological causes of your inability to cry as well by meeting an ophthalmologist so that they can get a better idea of what is happening to you. 

Why can’t I cry when I want to?

There are a lot of reasons why people can’t cry even if they want to. It could be because of biological issues such as ophthalmological causes or it could also be because of medications and a psychological problem.

Medical causes

Some psychiatric disorders can lead to flat affect which causes a blunting of emotions due to which people have trouble expressing themselves. 

Another medical cause is keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or dry eye syndrome, which is known to inhibit tear production. 

Medication

Certain medications such as antidepressants can lead to emotional blunting during treatment. These usually include selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants.

Psychological causes

The inability to cry can also be because you are in shock of what has happened, a change in circumstances that has led to a traumatic experience. 

It is a way to defend oneself from the trauma, where the individual  constantly represses their emotions—consciously and subconsciously—without acknowledging or processing them. 

While it is helpful and it is a natural defence by the brain, it can be unhelpful in the long run, especially when the individual is no longer under threat of what has happened, and lead to depression and other psychological issues. 

Social stigma

Another very important cause that leads to most adults and their inability to cry when they are emotionally overwhelmed is because of social stigma around expressing emotions. 

Crying is a natural process however, over time children in some cultures are taigh that it is not a good thing- that being emotional is not associated with positive aspects but rather taught that it means they are weak. 

In some cases, their emotions are completely disregarded which can teach the child that their emotions do not matter- a lesson that they take into their adult life that leads them to disregard their down emotions. 

Another important social issue is gender stereotypes in the case of toxic male stereotypes where children are often taught that “Boys don’t cry ” or another stereotype is “Girls are too emotional”.

All of these stereotypes can negatively affect an individual’s relationship with their own feelings leading them to reject and suppress their own emotions which might lead them to become emotionally numb and hence not be able to cry. 

Conclusion

In this blog we discussed the question “I want to cry but I can’t, what should I do?”.

We have also explored what it means when you want to cry and you can’t and why it happens. 

FAQ related to I want to cry but I can’t, what should I do?

What does it mean when you can’t cry?

There are a lot of reasons why people can’t cry even if they want to. It could be because of biological issues such as ophthalmological causes or it could also be because of medications and a psychological problem.

What does it mean when you can’t feel emotions anymore?

If you can’t feel your emotions anymore, it is possible that you are so overwhelmed with what has happened that your brain has applied a natural defence mechanism to protect you from your feelings. 

It is a way to defend oneself from the trauma, where the individual  constantly represses their emotions—consciously and subconsciously—without acknowledging or processing them. 

Can you become emotionally numb?

Yes it is possible that you can become emotionally numb. It is a way to defend oneself from the trauma, where the individual  constantly represses their emotions—consciously and subconsciously—without acknowledging or processing them. 

While it is helpful and it is a natural defence by the brain, it can be unhelpful in the long run, especially when the individual is no longer under threat of what has happened, and lead to depression and other psychological issues. 

Why are men taught not to cry?

Gender stereotypes in the case of toxic male stereotypes where children are often taught that “Boys don’t cry ”. This is because of the idea that emotional vulnerability is a sign of weakness- a “girl thing” which is far from reality. 

All of these stereotypes can negatively affect an individual’s relationship with their own feelings leading them to reject and suppress their own emotions.

References

Pridgett.T. Ever Want To Cry but Literally Don’t Have the Tears? Here’s How To Find a Cathartic Release. WellandGood. Retrieved on 1st march 2022. https://www.wellandgood.com/why-you-struggle-cry/

Why can’t I cry anymore? My Online therapy. Retrieved on 1st March 2022. https://myonlinetherapy.com/why-cant-i-cry-anymore/

How to Make Yourself Cry. The Cut. Retrieved on 1st March 2022. https://www.thecut.com/article/how-to-make-yourself-cry.html

Why Can’t I Cry? 8 Reasons, From Medical To Emotional. Mindbodygreen. Retrieved on 2nd March 2022. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/why-cant-i-cry

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