How to Make Yourself Cry

Woman crying.
Photo: Photoboyko/Getty Images/iStockphoto

There are few things quite as cathartic as weeping. And it can be frustrating when you feel like you need to release some emotion, but you can’t seem to figure out how to make yourself cry.

There are a number of complex, underlying reasons that could be inhibiting your ability to cry: Perhaps you’re disconnected from your emotions, or you’ve been conditioned to view weeping as shameful, or you’re a man. (Yes, the stereotype that women tear up more than men is backed by science.) But weeping is one of the healthiest outward expressions of emotions. Studies have shown that crying naturally reduces stress and lowers your body’s manganese level, which is associated with anxiety and irritability.

Having one of those days that seems to call for a good cry? Below, the Cut staff shares tips that just might get the tears flowing.

Put on sad music.

If you ask someone for advice on how to make yourself cry, “listen to sad music” is an obvious answer — precisely because it’s usually pretty effective. Fire up your Spotify and put on an old breakup playlist, or perhaps Blue — and in particular, “River” — by Joni Mitchell. A few other song suggestions from Cut staffers: “You Had Time” by Ani DiFranco, “Putting the Dog to Sleep” by the Antlers, and “On the Nature of Daylight” by Max Richter. Orchestral music also lends itself well to repeat listening, so if you feel a big sob swelling inside of you, hit the repeat button and lie down.

Afterwards, you’ll likely find yourself in higher spirits than before: According to a study published in Scientific Reports, crying to depressing music actually produces a measurable sense of pleasure.

Turn to movies that have made you cry in the past.

If music isn’t doing it for you, try recalling the films, televisions shows, or even commercials that have made you weep in the past. For one Cut writer, Boromir’s death in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and the poem scene in 10 Things I Hate About You make her weepy. When another staffer is looking for something to “fuck her all the way up,” she rewatches the tragic scene in season one of Grey’s Anatomy, where Izzy’s love interest, Denny Duquette, suddenly dies and “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol slowly swells in the background. I’ve been known to revisit Budweiser’s Clydesdales commercial with the lost puppy, which is an instant tearjerker.

If none of those speak to you, we’ve compiled a list of the 15 best sad movies on Netflix. There’s also always the first few minutes of Up.

Conjure up your most tearful memories, or imagine a hypothetical one.

Another way to make yourself cry is to reflect on past experiences in which you were memorably sad: breakups, deaths of loved ones, or times you felt betrayed or hurt by someone close to you. Or try imagining scenarios, hypothetical or otherwise, that would make you very, very sad. A few suggestions: How the world will look in 15 years if we continue to respond to our global climate catastrophe with zero urgency, or factory farming.

Think about what you’re thankful for.

If recalling sad memories isn’t the right route for you, try putting yourself in a more positive headspace and think about what you’re grateful for. To get the tears rolling, one editor at the Cut thinks about how much her mother helps her care for her kids.

How to Make Yourself Cry