Do you know how to cry?

Do you know how to cry?

My 100-level Psychology professor knew how to cry. He was the most real, genuine person I’d ever met; you could never accuse him of being fake. It’s extraordinary and humbling to be in the classroom of somebody who knows and is himself. It’s shocking and revealing when he tells you he cries.

The Benefits of Crying

Crying allows you to experience and release emotions that have cluttered your subconscious and, perhaps, have been ignored. It is not necessary to be overwhelmed or overcome by emotions to cry, but I believe that the most comforting cry requires confrontation and honesty. You must face your emotions and fears with fire in your eyes, or curiosity on your face – but for you to understand or learn anything about yourself, you must acknowledge and face what you feel.

In my experience, crying allows my heart to open rather than close. I must be vulnerable and exposed. Crying is a symbolic stretching of myself where I end up bigger because of it. Have you ever woken up in the middle of night with tears streaming down your cheeks and felt a cathartic hollowness – but not emptiness – in the centre of your chest? That is the feeling of being completely vulnerable. If you have felt this before, you must know how good it can feel to cry.

Kahlil Gibran said in his book The Prophet: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?” Through the pain and hardship of life, we are able to forge peace and understanding. Life is not one extreme or another but a balance. To reject sorrow is to reject joy as both are two parts of an entire whole.

Society

Society tells us many things about crying. As men we are told never to cry in public (let alone cry at all); that crying disgraces the family; that crying means you are weak. As women we are told that we cry too much; that we are being emotional; that it does not solve our problems. However, society has not lost a loved one nor experienced the sting of hatred.

Society is afraid. The example my Psychology professor used to explain this was when his dog died. He was at the veterinarian clinic and the attendant asked if he would like to take a back route out of the building as he cried. How horrible is that? He just lost someone he loved and society wanted to save him embarrassment.

When to Cry

At the most basic level, crying was our way to communicate our needs as an infant. As an adult, we learn that it is a way for our bodies to express sadness or gratitude. When we feel overwhelmed and helpless our natural response is to cry. This is how we express our need for help, love and attention. To treat a wound you must know where it is.

Up to a certain point I cry because it hurts and it hurts because I cry. Pain is not negative by itself, rather it is a part of life. Pain is uncomfortable but pain is also a part of growth. Feeling pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong; numbing the pain with medication or ignoring it only removes it from the visibility of your consciousness to the dimness of your subconscious. The best remedies treat the symptoms and the cause.

It takes courage to cry. It takes strength to let down your guard and expose yourself. The time to cry is when you need to. One of the worst feelings in the world is to want to cry but not have the ability to.

To cry is to give yourself permission to heal and grow.

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8 thoughts on “Do you know how to cry?

  1. Ah… became intimately acquainted with the joy of crying over the past year.. don’t think I’ve ever shed so many tears over such a long period of time. And I do feel that my capacity for joy has been carved much deeper as a result of allowing myself to really go into that pain.

    As a bodywork therapist, I have clients that are afraid to cry even within the safe walls of my office. They hold them in or are sometimes apologetic. How sad is that? Of all the places…and little do they realize it’s probably this very suppression that brings to see me in the first place

    What a blessing it would be for all of humanity, individually and as a whole, we cried when we felt like it. How much more fulfilling and real our laughter would be.

  2. I like this post. I find crying is a release and helps me clear stuff that otherwise is too overwhelmingly big to give reasoned discussion to. It isn’t just pain tho.. there can be tears of joy, relief and fear.

  3. Pingback: Beyond Within

  4. hi
    im usually a trong person when it comes to crying but when im in a phyysical fight i start to cry
    especially when im hurting the other person
    i also cry when im super frusterated.
    why?
    r those the right times to cry?
    when i find out someone i loved dearly has died i dont cry until after a day or so.
    why?
    i dont cry when my mom yells at me but i do cry when my dad does.
    why?
    im so confused please help me.
    write me back so i can have an answer.
    please.

  5. Hi isabelle,

    I am not a professional, but here are my thoughts:

    Crying is one of our human responses to overwhelming situations such as when we experience intense anger, frustration, disappointment, grief, happiness, joy, or even a combination of these. Crying is not a right or wrong thing to do, it is a neutral, normal, human thing that occurs (when we let ourselves cry).

    Everyone reacts uniquely to different situations, so when a loved one passes away it is not weird to cry days after the incident. In fact, I bet there are a lot of people who could relate to you. Grief at the loss of a loved one usually takes time to sink in as you remember the thoughts of being with the person who passed away and as those memories in turn reveal the deeper feelings you had for them.

    Crying is a natural response, but a person can also learn to respond to certain situations. For instance, you might have had an experience as a child when your friend did something that annoyed you – like roll her eyes when you told her a story – so each time you saw her roll her eyes, you got angry. This could have led to getting angry every time you saw her roll her eyes or even if it merely looked like she rolled her eyes. The same principle can be applied to crying: maybe there is a way that your dad yells at you that makes you cry that your mom does not. It might help to write out some reasons for why you think that you cry when your dad yells at you and not your mom. Is it his yelling that makes you cry? Does he yell louder than your mom? Does he get violent with his words or actions? Does he say hurtful things to you that make you sad and angry? I don’t know these answers but I have a feeling that deep down you may be able to come up with them. If you feel comfortable, you might talk to your dad (or mom) about this or even write a letter to clear our your feelings and thinking. Maybe your mom can relate to you.

    Hope this helps.

  6. my mom died tues the 13th from lung cancer.i can not cry.i feel no emotions.she was my everything!!!i don’t understand?it scares me to be this numb…thank u gail (thanks 4 writing about crying.i admit i do take xanax to help me through the day’s.it has been just a few days,but it does seem to help.i did bring home her ashes.god this is so awful…..

  7. Hello, great post (i’m glad i found it!)
    I definitely cry when feeling helpless. My partner has a habit of building his complaints to a crescendo of agitated words that after several minutes, feels like hail stones are hitting my head. Any attempt to stop or interrupt just makes his endless string of words louder and bitingly aggressive (which of course, makes me cry even harder and i can’t stop)

    my question, is why do men (or more specifically, my partner’s archetype) yell louder when met with tears? when i see someone cry the first thing i do is stop what i’m doing or seek to comfort them. (i don’t think i’ve made anyone cry- aside from the usual sibling rivalry of childhood. but if i did i would stop and at least leave them alone if unable to comfort them)
    I’ve been trying to figure out how to avoid the perpetual chaos that comes from our arguments. I try to breathe and not let the berating tone and endless string of words upset me but it always eventually does, and then everything gets worse from there. i block my ears as a clear sign that i cannot take more but this makes him yell louder, which makes me cry harder, then so on and so forth. and it’s the most trivial stuff!
    I’m used to being able to calmly discuss things with others and I’ve tried talking but he’s not very good at keeping his voice level when we are sorting out differences.
    He is generally a nice and gentle person, but grew up with a lot of loud sisters (which he brings up occasionally, is it possible that he has a grudge against females from being left out/not listened to as a boy? his behavior in these moments resemble an angry and spoilt child having a tantrum, unaware or uncaring of the pain he inflicts. it’s like he thinks I’m faking it or something-sheesh i don’t know what he thinks..)

    So is there a psychological ailment that describes a person that doubles their efforts to berate you when you cry? it seems cold and unnatural to me.
    thank you,
    Sheridan

  8. Hi Sheridan,

    Thanks for taking the time to write to me and I’m glad that you found my blog post useful. I really appreciate the thoughtful input. I’m very sorry to read about your situation with your partner, that sounds like it’s very tough to live through and probably feels like a painful barrier between you and your partner. I think myself and many others can relate to the helplessness we feel, especially when a partner is unable to see how their words and loud voice are so painful: even as hailstones. I think there is some truth to the thought that perhaps your partner’s yelling behaviour stems from an upbringing in which he was unable to be heard as a child.

    To answer your question, I’m not exactly sure why men yell louder when they are met with tears, but I think that it could be that they want to feel in control. Society definitely promotes men’s domination over women in many forms, and controlling conversations is one way it manifests. I can’t say that this is 100% why your partner behaves the way he does – and I don’t offer any advice professionally because I’m not a licensed counselor (yet!) – but I have a feeling that his louder yelling is a way of positioning himself because he doesn’t know how else to react to your crying. That is not a fault of your own.

    I’m not sure if you’ve been able to communicate to him how you feel when he yells louder during an argument, but I think that it would be wise to tell him about it so he knows that you hurt when that happens. Maybe if you’re able to find a time when all is calm that you can tell him how you feel in “I” statements when that happens, and how the yelling actually makes you cry harder. Even kind and gentle people can do nasty things so it’s good to separate what they say, how you feel, and to enlighten the connection between them.

    I hope that this answer was helpful and I wish you and your partner the best.

    Isaac

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