Most of us have had experiences when we were young of being told
“Big boys/girls don’t cry”
“Don’t be scared”
‘Wipe away those tears and put on a smile!’
And as we get older that phrasing might change to
“Cheer up, it’s not that bad”
“Pull yourself together”
“Get a grip”
We’re drip-fed the message throughout our lives that it’s not ok to show emotion, and we’re strongly encouraged to keep it all inside.
We are systematically taught to suppress our sadness and hurt.
We absorb the message that it’s somehow shameful to let our guard down, and allow ourselves to cry and be vulnerable.
Emotional suppression is very unhealthy.
Yet with self-awareness, we can reeducate ourselves and learn how to express emotion, so we can live a more joyful life!
When we don’t often see people cry, we have no reference for what is ‘normal’.
Most people live in families and social groups where crying is perceived at worst ‘weak’ or at best ‘unstable’.
Crying is usually only ‘allowed’ under extreme conditions.
It’s acceptable to see people crying in a hospital or a hospice, where people are very ill or dying; or at funerals where someone is already dead.
It’s ok to cry with extreme joy, such as when a baby is born.
Yet to see an adult crying openly in an otherwise ‘normal’ public place is very unusual.
It’s also uncomfortable to witness for many people.
Young children might stare.
Their parents will pull them away and say “Don’t stare, it’s not polite”, as they walk quickly by.
We never get to learn what ‘normally’ happens when someone is so full of emotion that their tear ducts overflow and tears roll down their cheeks.
“Crying needs to be normalised!”
I’m comfortable crying on camera – in videos or podcasts.
I can go on a podcast and cry my eyes out – and I’m not uncomfortable doing it.
But I also know that some people are going to be completely horrified and turned off by watching me cry.
They’ll judge me for it.
“Oh no, I can’t bear to watch this” and they’ll squirm and click away.
They might feel embarrassed for me.
It will certainly feel very uncomfortable.
They’ll think it’s ‘unprofessional’ – (whatever that means).
And that’s ok.
I understand why some people don’t like it.
It’s because they’re not comfortable with their own emotions; they feel triggered by my tears.
I also know that some people will be warmed and genuinely moved by the fact that I feel so passionate about my work that I’m moved to tears in talking about it.
Those are the sorts of people I want to have in my tribe.
I want to attract people who are not afraid to be in the presence of an outpouring of emotion, because they’re comfortable with their own.
I was recently interviewed for a video series talking about my work, and I got tearful several times (you can watch the interview here).
When I talk about my own ‘awakening’, and why it’s so important for people to notice the masks they wear, I get tearful. (watch here at around 10 mins in).
I feel when my tears are about to bubble over, I check in with myself – am I ok with this?
Then I just let it happen.
And the funny thing is, once I’ve opened the lid and let out a little ‘steam’, I’m fine to carry on and speak the words that are flowing from deep inside me.
Does that make me uncomfortable ?
Of course it does – I’m human!
I feel a little embarrassed and a bit awkward.
It is a bit annoying. I wish I could just speak my words without welling up.
But it is what it is.
But I’d feel even MORE uncomfortable if I had the pressure of trying NOT to cry; having to choose my words carefully so as not to bring up any emotion.
To me that’s like being a robot.
I don’t feel ashamed.
I have no shame for bursting into tears – because it’s part of who I am.
I’m proud that I can now express what I feel (which sometimes spills over into tears).
Most people wouldn’t be ok with bursting into tears, and to have people judge them.
They’d feel embarrassed, ashamed and terrified to ever be interviewed again.
It never occurs to me to feel ashamed.
Crying is just something I do when I feel moved.
(You can watch my first ever video here – tears and all!)
What happens to us over the long term when we hold our tears inside and never let them out?
I know from experience what it’s like to hold everything inside and not be able to express emotions.
There was a time in my life when my emotions were completely blocked.
I felt so much, yet it wasn’t safe for me to express anything vulnerable – so I learned to push my feelings and my tears down.
Even through some really dark times.
Blocking out my sadness led me to feeling empty, disconnected and lifeless.
The truth is
“You can’t selectively suppress emotions”
If you shut out the negative emotions, you shut down all the good stuff too.
All the joy, exhilaration, wonder, happiness, and the freedom to feel light and at One with Nature….
That’s all on the other side of expressing the ‘negatives’.
You simply cannot have one without the other.
We can’t have bright beautiful light without the darkness.
And trying to block out those negatives is exhausting, especially when you’re sensitive and you feel so much.
“Being ok with crying is the precursor to joy and emotional freedom”
Since learning how to express my emotions, in all their colours, I’ve felt more vibrant and alive than ever before.
Being able to express what I feel is deeply liberating.
And having a few tears come up (even though I’m a little embarrassed) does not stop me showing up to share my work.
Because I know there are so many people who do not allow themselves to cry – at all.
Even when it’s totally appropriate for them to do so and they really need to.
I cry enough tears for me and for them.
And I’m taking a stand for emotional expression – on or off camera!
Anyone who knows me personally will know it’s a part of me – I cry on phone calls, in person, whenever.
Now I’ve learned the benefits of expressing freely, I’m never going to stop!
Does crying make you weak?
No, in fact I would argue the opposite.
Crying allows you to let go of sadness and hurt, so you can feel solid and grounded within yourself.
Unexpressed tears can make you emotionally unstable; more easily pulled off track, or pushed over.
It takes a lot of energy to keep down tears that really need to come out.
Allowing your tears to flow makes you stronger.
Does crying make you ‘unprofessional’?
No, crying makes you human and relatable.
People who work with me know that I’m passionate and emotional, and I’m also very smart and switched on.
My ability to FEEL is one of my greatest strengths.
It adds an extra layer of power and effectiveness in my coaching with clients; being able to intuitively pick up on nuances in their being, and translate that into words for them.
Our emotional life is like a bucket that’s constantly filling up.
If your emotional ‘bucket’ fills up with negative stuff, and never gets emptied, then there’s no room for any of the good stuff.
And the negative stuff happens to us often.
When we’re sensitive we feel a lot of things all the time.
Small hurts, sadness, annoyances, frustration, anguish.
All those negative little things build up to bigger emotions – that fill up your bucket.
And unless you feel and express those emotions, they get stuck in the bucket, and nothing else can fit in.
You can’t feel joy, happiness, or real love if your bucket is full of sadness and tears that have yet to be released.
We need to be able to express much more freely than we do.
If you want to know whether you’re holding onto emotional pain:
Notice your response when you see another adult crying – someone who isn’t physically hurt.
If you feel annoyance, resentment, disgust or deep embarrassment, that’s a pretty good signal that there’s something inside you that you’re not owning up to.
If you feel warmth, caring, and a sense of connection and wanting to help that person – that’s great! It sounds like your bucket is flowing freely!
If you feel tears welling up yourself – celebrate!
You have empathy and are expressing that freely through your tear ducts!
Your awareness of how you respond to other people’s emotional expression is a clear indicator of your own emotional health.
Emotional expression is healthy!
It feels good, light, and flowing.
When your emotional bucket is not blocked, but is emptying out the negatives, and filling up with more of the good stuff – that means you’re living an expressed life.
That’s fulfilling and joyful!
When your emotional bucket is flowing freely, you feel happy more of the time.
You feel fulfilment and greater ease in life and work.
You get to create in a more deeply satisfying way.
Having a freely flowing emotional bucket is akin to what psychologist Susan David calls Emotional Agility.
She defines this as “the ability to be with your emotions with curiosity, compassion and especially the courage to take values connected steps”.
Emotional expression brings more success and more joy!
You can achieve more and make a bigger contribution in the world.
Being ok with crying is the first step.
If you feel that your emotions are blocked and getting in the way of you living a fulfilled and successful life, let me help you.
Let’s have a conversation and find out if coaching would be a good next step for you.
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