Whether you like to admit it or not, you have been there. We all have. Something triggers your emotions, and the moment before the tears start falling, your throat gets a lump in it, it becomes hard to swallow, and for some, it’s even a bit painful.
And while you might not have ever put much thought into why that happens, there is actually a pretty fascinating story behind it.
To understand exactly what is happening to our body, we have to understand the basics of how our body works and responds to chemicals in our system. I promise to keep this as simple as possible.
Your body has an autonomic nervous system, a sympathetic nervous system, and a parasympathetic nervous system.
The first, autonomic nervous system, has a major role to regulate all of the non-voluntary movements. This includes controlling heart rate, breathing rate, motility of your bowels and so on. You probably have come across it as the “fight or flight” & “rest and digest” responses, which are a result of cortisol and adrenaline being pushed through your system.
The former is what’s called the sympathetic nervous system and the latter the parasympathetic nervous system. They usually control the same organ but have opposite effects on that organ. For example; The sympathetic system causes your wind pipe to widen (dilate) and the parasympathetic system causes it to narrow (constrict).
When you put that into context, it makes quite a lot of sense. During a fight or flight response, you would certainly want your wind pipe to be wider to allow for as much oxygen as possible into your body.
When we cry, even though we are eliciting an emotional response, our body reacts in a physical way. Crying tells our body there is distress, and our sympathetic nervous system gets activated. When the sympathetic neurons fire, they cause the wind pipe, or trachea, to swell.
Since the trachea lies directly in front of the esophagus, when our trachea is widening, it pushes against the esophagus, closing it shut. When we attempt to swallow, we are essentially pushing against the weight of the trachea giving us that painful lump in our throat.
You may also notice that a person’s voice goes higher, or it becomes difficult for them to speak when they are heavily affected by emotions.
When a person experiences emotional upset or some other type of extreme emotional feeling, the muscles of the larynx are greatly affected. And since the vocal chords reside within the larynx, it makes sense that a contracting and expanding trachea would impact the way a person sounds.
That’s how you can tell if someone is upset or mad just by the sound of his/her voice.
So now you know what is happeneing to your body when you are about to cry and you get that weird feeling in your throat. It’s just your body (physically) preparing you for the emotional response.
By GKT for MysticalRaven.com