Horseshoe Falls (Canadian Falls)
Growing up, I viewed crying as a sign of weakness. A lot of us were taught that as children: Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about. Suck it up. You’re such a sissy. Luckily that thinking is beginning to change, for both boys and girls. I’ve come to learn that crying is powerful and can help break through a lot of the emotional blocks we put up in an attempt to avoid pain. The pain is still there; it’s just trapped in your body. Letting it out is cathartic.
Some people let it out as anger, which was my personal favorite in the early days of crawling out of depression because it was so familiar, but after a while, anger no longer moves you forward, it holds you back. If anger gets you out of hopelessness, go for it. Just don’t stay there. The goal is to move through the anger to a better feeling. For me, the way to that happier thought is usually through crying. It seems counterintuitive to cry yourself happy, but I’m not one of those people who can just shift immediately into positive, cheerful thoughts. When the tears start falling, I’ve finally stop fighting myself and just given in and allowed myself to be in that moment–feeling bad, but truly present. That’s what propels me to expand and grow as a person.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been copiously crying in a shopping center or restaurant. When it first started happening, I was embarrassed and tried to hold it in. Then I realized that’s what I’d been doing my entire life and it didn’t work, so I started to just cry. If people saw me, oh well. I’d rather be able to express my feelings. As bad as I feel in that moment, I know that by crying I have finally released the resistance to finding the solution. It’s actually incredibly healthy.
We hold so much bottled up that we need to have a release value. Some people find that release in ways that end up being unhealthy–overwork, sex, alcohol, drugs, shopping, food. Those just mask the problem. Eventually you’re going to have to deal with the emotions, and I’m at the point where I’d rather deal with them as they happen than to wait for the huge explosion. Because it will happen. You get sick, your spouse wants a divorce, you lose your job. Trying to learn healthy techniques to feel better in those moments is impossible.
For me, if I’m crying I know I’m on the right track, but only if I don’t wallow in self-pity, which I have been known to do many, many times. Crying shifts something for me. I’m no longer pushing against the resistance. I might not be actively looking for the solution yet, but I’ve at least acknowledged that what I’ve been doing isn’t going to bring me what I want, and I need to look for a different way. Once you let go of that resistance, you stand in a new place from which to create your life.