According to Ed Sheeran, “it’s alright to cry;” even his dad does sometimes. And while I wouldn’t go taking all your advice from Ed, he does make a valid statement here. Whereas some people see it as a sign of weakness, crying isn’t actually a bad thing. Sure, it often comes as a result of a bad, painful, scary, or unfortunate event, but there are benefits to crying. (And there is such a thing as happy-crying—at least that’s what I call it. You know, when something is just so great you can’t help but shed a few tears. Sure, they feel different than sad tears, but it’s crying nonetheless.)
But maybe you grew up in a home where crying wasn’t allowed or you feel like you’ll be seen as weak and unstable if you allow your emotions to show. Or maybe, if you’re like me, you’ve struggled with depression before, and in an attempt to not fall into hopelessness again, you do your best to not experience sadness at all—maybe you’re an emotion-stuffer.
Now, I could never be a complete emotion-stuffer because I tend to “wear my heart on my sleeve,” as they say. I am led by my emotions much more than I am by logic (that’s where my sweetie and I balance each other out well). However, there have been times in my life where I felt like I had no control over the extreme emotions I was feeling. There have been times when it felt like the tears would never stop and the sadness would last forever. And when my mom passed away, I felt grief and sadness like I never had before. And having been down the road of never ending tears, I didn’t want to go there again. So I began to hold back my emotions, put on a smile, and “stay strong.”
I’m starting to realize this can be damaging; at some point you will burst. You can only hold emotions in for so long before they force themselves out of you.
So where’s the balance?
“Staying strong” can be damaging; you can only hold emotions in for so long before they force themselves out of you.
It’s possible to have a healthy relationship with your emotions—all of them, even sadness that results in tears. According Healthline, as much as it works you up, crying can actually calm you down as well. Maybe not right away, but research has shown crying to be a self-soothing technique. Even more, crying can dull pain, which is ironic because we usually cry because of physical or emotional pain. Nevertheless, crying releases endorphins, which can eventually cause the pain to subside. And if you still don’t believe me that crying can be beneficial, there are studies that show it “may help to restore emotional equilibrium.” Crying may be the very thing that helps you find balance with your emotions.
So, what’s my purpose in writing all this? To encourage you that it’s OK to cry. It’s OK to have emotions and embrace them. You can let them run their course without letting them run your life. Even the Bible acknowledges sadness will come and that it’s not something to be avoided at all costs like some of us try to do. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” It doesn’t say you have to stuff the sadness and hold back the tears, but that there will be times in life to experience them. And that joy also has it’s place and will come.
Building a healthy relationship with your emotions isn’t always easy; I’m still trying to figure out what it looks like in my life. Today I had to look up an old text message from my mom to find a password I needed. While in our messages, I started to read some of our past conversations but quickly stopped myself. I knew if I kept reading the tears would come. It was in that moment I realized I need to let them (though I figured I would wait until I got home from work because, you know, “professionalism.”) It’s OK to let the tears come and have their place; maybe you’ll even experience some of the benefits of crying when you do. Like Ed says, “tears remind you you’re alive.” Sadness is a part of life; but so is joy, and it will come too—balance.
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