Why Do I Cry When I Get Mad?

By Lindsay Hamilton

Updated December 05, 2019

Reviewer Aaron Horn

Have you ever gotten so mad that you start to cry? The anger builds and builds until it bubbles over. You want it to seem righteous and dignified but your eyes betray you. Crying is often viewed as weak. It's hard to feel in control while you are crying. So, why do we cry when we get angry? If we so desperately want not to cry, why is it that we can't seem to help it? Our involuntary responses to our emotions can tell us a lot about how the human mind works. Crying when you're mad may seem counter-intuitive, but it makes quite a bit of sense. Let's take a look at some of the possible reasons.

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Hurt Often Hides Behind Anger

When we are angry, it often stems from feeling hurt. Anger that leads to tears, especially, has probably been building for some time. You see this a lot in children who don't have the emotional intelligence yet to differentiate between anger and hurt. Crying is a result of pent up frustration that needs to be released. This can look like crying over a betrayal, or not being understood by a family member or friend. When you want to be heard so badly by the people you love, but they don't understand, that leads to anger and resentment. But tears will also develop because there is hurt behind that anger. Crying is your body's way of releasing both the sadness and the anger. But just because the release is in the form of tears doesn't mean that it's a sign of weakness. Tears show that you care, and that you feel. Having an emotional response to a wrongdoing or a bad situation is very normal and very human. If you've ever been in the middle of a conversation and found yourself saying, "I don't know why I'm crying," take a deeper look inside of yourself. There is probably a hurt that needs to be responded to.

You're In A Situation That Feels Unfair

Usually, when kids cry out of anger, it's coming from a feeling of a situation being unfair. When they're told no, or asked to do chores, you often hear a kid scream "It's not fair!" As adults, we do this too. When we feel wronged or betrayed, we get angry and upset. But there is also real hurt behind the anger. Our sense of right and wrong has been tested. What we expected of our friends, family, or coworkers didn't happen, and we are left to pick up the pieces. Tears seem like a natural reaction to this mixture of emotions. What we feel needs to find a way out. It's harder to bottle up how you feel when you feel it so strongly. That's why tears often accompany anger. You feel so much all at once that you can't help but let it all out.

Crying Isn't Specifically Related To Sadness

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Scientifically speaking, crying isn't just for feelings of sadness. Our brains don't know how to differentiate between our emotions that well. Dr. Robert R Provine at the University of Maryland notes that our tear ducts are just not that smart. We don't start producing tears as infants until we are three months old, though crying starts at birth. This leads scientists to think that tear production is a recent evolution for the human race. Because it's so new, our tear ducts don't know the difference between feelings of hurt, sadness, anger, or even happiness. Therefore, we cry whenever we feel something immensely - in that sense, it means that you're alive. That you can feel something huge and overwhelming. When you cry as a result of anger, your body is just doing what it thinks it needs to do to help you feel better. Tear production is a natural response to feeling overwhelmed and full of anger. It doesn't mean you are more sad than angry. It just means you feel deeply.

Crying Is Cathartic

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Dr. Suzanne Degges-White, the department chair of counseling and higher education at Northern Illinois University, suggests that crying is a way to release emotions. It's a form of catharsis, a coping mechanism to deal with our intense feelings, whether they be frustration, anger, or profound sadness. She even goes so far as to say that crying is a form of self-soothing. Crying forces us to control our breathing. We take deep breaths to return to a state of calm. This causes our heart rate to decrease, allowing us to calm down from an agitated state. Crying is a natural way for our bodies to regulate our emotions.

Crying Is Involuntary

Often tears of anger come when we don't want them to. If we're at work or in a fight with a loved one, or frustrated by a situation we can't seem to control; the crying comes because we're overwhelmed and don't know what else to do. It isn't a contrived reaction. In fact, if we could stop crying and get a grip on things, we would probably rather do that. But our bodies know us pretty well. They know what we need even if we don't want to admit that we do. We feel better after a good cry, don't we? All of the emotions that have built up in our hearts is spilled out through tears. And while the situation might not be resolved just by tears, you're left feeling a bit more level headed and ready to take on the challenge. Crying is also a signal to the outside world that you are hurting. Maybe you're not willing to ask for help all the time. But when you truly need it, your tears might be the cry for help you aren't willing to ask for.

A Healthy Release

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Crying is, unfortunately, stigmatized in our society. It's looked at as a sign of weakness or immaturity. It pushes people away or makes you feel uncomfortable. We often feel the need to apologize when we cry, don't we? As if our involuntary emotional moment is some inconvenience. But the truth is, if we're crying, we have a real reason to be doing so. And sometimes we need a safe space to let all that we're feeling out.

Therapy is one such safe space. Whether you talk to a friend, a family member, or a professional, finding a person that will listen and be there while you let your emotions out is super important for your emotional help. And there are ways to get that help without having to spend a lot of money or sit face to face with a stranger. Take ReGain, for instance.

ReGain.us is an online counseling platform that allows real mental health professionals to take clients online by utilizing secure messaging services and a client matching survey. To start work with a counselor, you'll fill out a personal survey about your specific needs, and the right counselor will be provided for you. You'll talk through a private chat room that is completely secure and only accessible to you and your counselor.

The best part? This isn't real-time therapy. You can send a message to your therapist at any time of day, and they will only respond at an agreed upon time. This means you don't have to take unnecessary time out of your day or worry about the reactions on the other end of the computer. You send what you need to say and move on. If you would be interested in speaking with your counselor full time, you can arrange for a video chat or phone call with them directly.

Have a partner that you think would benefit from the ReGain platform? You can use the chatroom together as a couple, both gaining from the expertise from the counselor without having to make separate appointments or accommodations. You can add a partner in at any time, and if you ever need to speak privately with your counselor, a special arrangement can be made so that your partner can't see that specific conversation.

If you would like more information about ReGain or are ready to sign up, go to https://www.regain.us/start/ today.

Angry tears are a normal part of life. There's no need to be ashamed of them or to try and hide them when you are feeling emotional. Your body knows what it is doing, even if it can't differentiate between happy and sad when it comes to tears. That release of emotion and tension can lead to better discussions and healthier outlooks on your situation. So, the next time you feel like you are so angry you could cry, just let it out. You do what you have to do to help you feel better.


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