Inappropriate crier? Try these three proven tricks to stop yourself from crying.

There were many times Hillary Clinton felt like crying during the 2016 presidential campaign trail that ultimately led to her defeat to Donald Trump – but she never did. At least not in public.

No matter what was said about her, she “sucked it up” and as she explains in her book What Happened, this isn’t as much because she wanted to, but because she had no option but to do so.

Speaking on the podcast Longform, about her new book, Clinton said if she knew if ever shed a tear it would be pounced upon by her opponents as a sign of weakness.

Listen: Mia Freedman and US journalist Amelia Lester deep dive on Hillary Clinton’s new book, and where on Earth she is now. Post continues after audio. 

“I just powered through it. I thought, ‘okay, they will have no empathy if you stop and point it out. They’ll think you’re weak,” she told host Max Linsky.

But while women like Clinton are denigrated if they cry, male leaders are celebrated for showing “compassion” for shedding tears in public.

“Men get to tear up all the time. And I’ve seen Barrack Obama and George W Bush and Bill Clinton and George H W Bush and Ronald Reagan – I’ve personally seen them. And they get points from their empathy and their sympathy and their compassion,” she said.

“And when (former Congresswoman) Pat Schroeder (when announcing she would not seek the Democratic nomination for president in 1987) cried for about three seconds – she’s still paying the price for it.”

hillary clinton anxiety
Clinton's eyes remained dry as horrendous things were said about her.(Image via Getty.)

Clinton says because of this, she would always fight back tears that threatened to well in her eyes.

"I was really well aware of all of the downsides and therefore my composure and my calmness was not only because I think that's appropriate for a leader, but it was also because we still don't have a broad band of acceptable behaviour for women in public life."

What's worse is that women's bodies are working against us.

Research by neuroscientist William Frey shows that as boys reach puberty their tear glands develop differently to girls, so that men and women may experience the same level of emotion, but a man's body is less likely to produce tears.


How to stop yourself from crying.

As sexist as it plainly is and as unfair as it seems, it's hard to deny that crying - particularly at work - can have a negative impact. And even if it won't, sometimes you just don't want to be the woman crying over a rude shopper who swears at her in the supermarket for unloading too slowly.

Distract yourself with pain. 

When you're on the verge of tears, a simple method to stop them is to hurt yourself in a tiny, subtle way.

Take Glamour magazine writer Joanna Goddard's tried and true technique:

"When you feel like you're going to lose it, pinch that little bit of skin between your thumb and pointer finger. Pinch it hard."

As cruel as that sounds, it works.

US scientist Ad Vingerhoets, who studies crying, told New York Magazine the sensation of physical should distract you from your emotional pain long enough to stop you from crying.

Obviously, we're talking about stopping the tears induced by an emotional response here - if you've broken your ankle in a netball match you have our permission to bawl your bloody eyes out.

And if you don't want to pinch, try biting the inside of your cheek, or digging a fingernail into the palm of your hand.

Tense your muscles.

Vingerhoets suggests that tensing your muscles will also help "because it seems that crying is, in particular, a passive and helpless reaction" and by tensing your muscles you are upping your feeling of control.


So this could be clenching your fist or, even more subtly, tensing your buttocks.

Take a step back from the situation - if you can.

Self-confessed "chronic crier" Taffy Brodesser-Akner writes in her piece for about her habit of tearing up at inopportune times.

She found a trick from cognitive and behavioural psychologist Jerry Bubrick worked for her: literally taking a step back.

"The trick, he told me, is to remove myself from the drama, even by just a foot, to short-circuit the usual rush of tears," she said.

Brodesser-Akner added that she looked into how relaxing your facial muscles or even forcing a smile can help, and she incorporated this into her new tear-fighting method - which she says was a complete success.

But if you can't stop yourself from crying - don't beat yourself up. It's important to understand that we have limited control over our emotional responses, such as crying.

Author and neuroscientist Robert Provine told New York Magazine that our bodies don't have reliable on or off switches for crying or other emotion-related physiological responses, such as blushing.

So next time you're about to cry, pinch your hand, tense your muscles, take a step back - and if that doesn't work have a good cry knowing that you're only human.