We’ve all had those moments in the movie theaters: something absolutely heartbreaking and emotionally devastating is happening and we’re forced to sit there, enduring it all while trying to keep our eyes from streaming rivers of tears down our face. I mean, c’mon, you don’t want to be that person who is just bawling in the middle of a theater full of people.
As a man, there’s even more of a need to remain dry during gut-wrenchingly emotional scenes, because we’ve been told from birth that crying isn’t masculine. But, the truth is that no one should be afraid to let the waterworks flow when they’re feeling sad because of a movie. Because doing so illustrates that you have something other people might not have: empathy.
You might be thinking, “Yeah, everyone has at least a bit of empathy, right?” Wrong. Not everyone comes stock with the ability to empathize. These people are the narcissists and sociopaths of the world, and they often spend a good portion of their lives never seeing the world from any other perspective than their own.
Why are empathetic people so strong? Because the easy thing to do is shrug off emotional hardships as if they were nothing. It’s easier to ignore tough feelings altogether than it is to actually feel something real. There’s a difference in character between those that can put themselves in another person’s pain versus those who cannot.
What’s true strength? When you are strong enough to endure the pain of your own life, and then are willing to step into the pain of someone else’s as well. Your strength carries over from your life into other’s. This strength stems from your understanding of what they’re going through and feeling what they’re feeling.
To say that caring for another person somehow makes you weak is just ignorant. Even when you’re showing empathy for a fictional character who’s acting out scenes in a non-real storyline, it shows that you have a heart, and that you’re willing to break it in that moment to feel something real.
Tears often come during movies for a variety of different reasons. It might be that the character is going through something similar to what you’ve gone through, so it’s causing you to sort through painful old memories (which is healing in its own way), or it could be the sheer artistic genius of the piece that moves you to tears.
Either way, pieces of art that move us emotionally are powerful, as they often force us to acknowledge emotions that we typically don’t like to acknowledge. And that takes strength.
Empathy is not weakness, it is emotional maturity, it is emotional strength.