“Do you ever feel sad? Do you cry?” she asked. “Yes, of course,” I said.
I went home after that conversation wondering why I felt unsure of my response to those questions. I think I cry quite easily these days. I cry when I hear stories of people who are different, disadvantaged or disregarded and have embraced their gifts to be amazing people. I cry when people come together to make a difference. I cry for brave individuals who stand up for what they believe to make the world a better place. I cry when I see people (or animals) comforting those who are in pain (physically or mentally). I cry for others.
Wait…that’s it. I cry for others. I don’t cry for myself. Why? What’s wrong with me? What does this mean?
It’s all right to cry.
I grew up singing “It’s All Right to Cry,” sung by Rosey Greir on the Free to Be You and Me record…any other fans out there?!. Although Rosey taught me that “it’s all right to feel things,” and “crying gets the hurt out of you,” I didn’t believe it was ok; I thought crying was weak. I am a thinker. When I feel a feeling, that I don’t like or is in some way uncomfortable for me, I think my way out of it. I take pride in knowing I’m strong enough to quickly resolve issues that I face and move on. I’ve learned how to control my feelings so no one knows I might be struggling or am weak. I’ve learned how to control my feelings to create the perception I’m in control; so I won’t be found out. You might be thinking that’s not a bad thing. I think it is.
Don’t get me wrong…I don’t think we should run around emoting all the time. What I do believe is that by “perfecting” my ability to suppress, deny and control the feelings I don’t like to avoid feeling them, I also don’t fully feel really good feelings. Let that sink in.
Recently, I promised myself I would work hard to really experience ALL my feelings. Not an easy promise to make but one I am committed to. Several times since then I’ve practiced pausing and noticing the “bad” feelings that have come from feeling overwhelmed, defeated, exhausted, sad. And I have cried…like full-on sobbing. And do you know what happened? Well, first my head hurt, and I felt like I had wasted a lot of time (feeling sad and crying certainly doesn’t feel like an efficient use of time, and I’m all about efficiency). But it was productive. I have uncovered some sh*t that I am choosing to embrace, understand and resolve. I’ve come to accept that all emotions are normal and good; they are full of messages about who we are, what’s important to us and what we need. I’ve also started practicing emoting with others I trust (appropriately), especially when I’m feeling love, happiness and gratitude. I’m getting better at being human.
There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human- in not having to be just happy or just sad- in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.
― C. JoyBell C., Author
8 questions I’ve been reflecting on that I invite you to sit with as well:
- What do I cry for/about?
- What’s the message in my response to the first question? What does that tell me about who I am: my beliefs, my values, my fears, my needs?
- What do I not cry for/about?
- What’s the message in that? What does that tell me about who I am: my beliefs, my values, my fears, my needs?
- How do I feel right now (mentally and physically)? How am I…really?
- Am I allowing myself to feel whatever I’m feeling? Can I accept what I’m feeling as valid and normal?
- When I sit with my feelings and hold them with compassion, what else do I notice and discover?
- With whom can I share what I’m feeling?
Humans are social and emotional beings. That’s how we’re wired. By not allowing myself to feel whatever shows up, to greet it like an invited guest and experience it, maybe even talk about it, I am not fully being human.
Parents are emotional teachers and role models.
As parents, we should encourage our kids to practice feeling all of their feelings. That may uncomfortable for them…and you, however, it’s an important part of the process. We can do that my letting them see us practice feeling and expressing our feelings, even when that involves crying.
Let me know what you think and stay tuned for more as I continue learning to live from the inside out.
Feel Well, Be Well, Do Well,
Co-Founder, ConnectHuman, maker of Connection Zoo
NOTE: If you don’t know who Rosey Grier is, you should get to know him He is an American actor, singer, Protestant minister, and former professional football player. Oh, and author of “Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint for Men.” Be sure to listen to “It’s All Right to Cry.” You gotta love the video quality!