Who wants such an unpopular feeling? You do, if you want to be happy. This may seem bizarre, but it most assuredly is true. Unless you are able to feel sadness (and its relatives: sobbing, grief and tears), you will forever be avoiding sadness. Avoidance makes you prone to addictive behavior, psychosomatic symptoms, high levels of anxiety and acting-out skewed behavior. Sadness is a natural feeling which, if unfelt, just adds to our array of unresolved trauma knots. As with other emotions, feel it and it will go away. Resist it and it hangs around forever, periodically erupting inappropriately in our body's attempt to rid itself of associated trauma knots.
It has been most unfashionable to cry, most particularly in the 1950s and 1960s. Negative judgments were commonly made about those who did so in public. Politicians for many years avoided anything even remotely connected to tears. Today that seems to be changing. We all need to feel sadness and grief at times. If we are not to remain emotionally crippled, then we need to allow whatever sobs need to wrack us and whatever tears need to roll down our cheeks.
Common inhibiting beliefs are: my tears would never stop, tears or sobbing would show weakness (unmanliness too), and others would disapprove.
1. Of course your tears would stop. Don't histrionic tears of even the most melodramatic person eventually stop? The real fear here typically is that of loss of control. If I let the tears or sobbing start, then I won't be able to stop them. They will stop of their own accord. You will stop them if you need to do so in an emergency or if that really is your choice.
2. Do tears and sobbing show weakness? No, they show strength. That is, of course, a different view from what many of us learned as children. Nevertheless, it takes strength and courage to allow all your emotions (particularly ones that might be criticized) to be expressed. To be authentic emotionally shows much more strength of character than it does to hide our unpopular parts. The person who cannot or will not express the natural human expressions of tears and sobbing could be considered emotionally crippled.
3. Some still disapprove of almost any expression of sadness. The phrase "break down into tears" captures the essence of this disapproval. I have hopes the media will soon come to realize that use of "break down" in that context is unhelpful to society and fosters continuation of macho-male stereotypes. Given many recent tears by famous males, disapproval of sadness and tears is definitely on the wane. Hallelujah!
One common dilemma facing us in our relationships concerns what to do when our partner starts crying. Do we attempt to comfort, or do we maintain a respectful distance? This may be likened to serving another person fried eggs. You probably wouldn't serve someone a fried egg unless you asked beforehand whether he liked it sunny-side-up or turned-over. Likewise, we had best check with our particular partners beforehand to find out their likes and dislikes concerning comfort vs. distance when they cry. Then one gives that partner what they want. (Be alive to the fact that such wants may change over time, perhaps even from one time to the next. Both partners need to keep communicating.)
Emotionally Healthy Adults (with respect to sadness):
Are comfortable with sadness, their own and others
Allow their own wracking sobs and tears
Feel good once their sobs and tears have been expressed
Are not stuck in recurring sadness - (This is often the result if hatred is blocked, one's spiritual system is unhappy, or if childhood hopelessness is being blocked.)
The closer we get to the above, the happier we will be. Do you want to change some of your ideas concerning sadness?
Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break. MacBeth, William Shakespeare, c.1564-1616
© 2008 by Thayer White
Finding Your Soul in the Spirituality Maze
|Excerpt from Be Your Own Therapist: "Four typical fears are: (1)I can't trust my spontaneity because I might do myself harm, (2)I won't be accepted if I laugh hard or play joyfully, (3)Creativity is often the work of the devil and (4)I fear I won't be accepted if I enjoy myself because there are starving people in Africa."|