I am unashamed to admit that I cry a lot. Probably significantly more than the average person. I am of the opinion that crying is healthy for everyone, but that some of us need to cry more than others because, let’s face it, some of us just have bigger hearts. (You’re welcome, world, for feeling all the things I do.)
I’ve been a free crier for a number of years now, so I feel qualified to offer some advice to fellow empathizers. Here are some tips:
1. Watch lots of emotional movies.
Crying is great for stress relief. It releases good chemicals in your body and washes away chemicals that cause stress. (You can read more about the science of it here.) Sometimes we just need a good cry about nothing in particular.
So, if that’s you, I suggest watching a sad movie. Preferably by yourself. That way, you can cry as loudly as you want to without bothering anyone or embarrassing yourself. And if others are present, they probably won’t judge you as much if you were crying about real life.
2. Process your emotions.
I don’t know why so many of us are taught to hold in our emotions at a young age, but the fact is that we are emotional beings, and if we have a strong emotional reaction to something, there’s usually a reason for it. Suppression is always an option if you’d really like to take that route, but I’d like to suggest something else. Press in to that pain and see what’s underneath it.
Sometimes it’s nothing. Just a bad mix of overcast skies, a toothache, and a bad burrito. But other times, a surprisingly strong emotion arises out of something seemingly mundane. Why? Sometimes there is a reason hiding, just waiting to be uncovered. And uncovering will help you understand yourself better. And that can lead to healing.
3. Shut down self-pity tears.
Not all tears are created equal. Those self-pity tears? Shut those guys down immediately. Maybe you can experimentally let a few out, but if they make you feel worse instead of better, stop yourself. That is a recipe for self-absorption, skewed perspective, and puffy eyes.
4. Indulge happy tears.
Speaking of types of tears, happy tears are real. And sometimes those are the ugliest cries of all (in my experience) because the joy is just so deep. Don’t worry about how your face looks or what may be happening to your make up. Let yourself revel in that deep joy!
5. Let yourself empathize. Tears make people feel loved.
At least let yourself tear up. Even if you’re a guy. If you feel tearful emotion for someone else (not pity, but empathy), then don’t be ashamed to show it. Tears connect people more deeply than mere words or hugs. Tears show something mere words can’t. Don’t be afraid to show people you care!
(But if you’re extremely soft-hearted, like I can be, then don’t go overboard crying about everyone and everything. Not only will you freak people out, but your heart will eventually become overloaded and overwhelmed.)
6. Choose vulnerability.
I’ll end with this. I used to think emotions were a sign of weakness (as many of us are undoubtedly taught or somehow conclude along the way), but in more recent years I’ve discovered that tears have a special power to break down barriers that mere words or even actions don’t. Unless the person you’re talking to has an emotion phobia or thinks your tears are contrived and manipulative. In that case, maybe not.
But genuine tears? Received as genuine? They bring healing and reconciliation. Don’t let your pride keep you from those treasures.
Choose vulnerability. Unless you’re dealing with a bully or sadist. Then self-protect at all costs.