The pursuit of happiness is a common and meaningful journey that spans across time and culture. Often, people on that journey think that the key to finding a sense of contentment is to avoid any feelings other than those associated with happiness. Flipping through any magazine or watching a few television commercials will tell you that our society is one that markets to consumers by selling goods and services with the promise that they will make us happier; make our lives better. As the seasons appear to be finally changing in Michigan, we can look to mother nature to show us the way along the true path to wholeness.
When we are children, we are taught various rhymes and songs to help us learn about life and the world around us. We are taught about the days of the week, shapes and colors, and more. One saying that stands out in my memory is “April showers bring May flowers”; teaching us about the importance of rain. How can we take this lesson about the work of nature and apply it to our personal lives? My answer is to embrace our own natural emotional cycles including our tears- our “April Showers”.
Everyone looks forward to the warmer weather and the beauty that comes with it. However, without the rain in April, we would have no green grass and colorful flowers to brighten our spring days. When a client comes to their first therapy session, we talk about how therapy can be challenging. In order to move to a place of happiness, we often have to work through some unpleasant and (at times) painful emotions and memories. Until we do this, we cannot genuinely heal.
On a smaller scale, as we move through our days, weeks, and months, we benefit when we allow ourselves to experience the full range of emotions that arise within us. When we block out sadness, we block our happiness as well. We cannot choose to only feel good feelings. One of the best ways to move through our more challenging emotions is to feel them fully. Allowing ourselves to cry can have emotional, social, creative, and physical benefits that can positively impact our lives.
Often times when we are letting our feelings build up within us, we can find ourselves overwhelmed, stuck, or out of touch with our truth. Letting ourselves feel our full range of emotions allows us to release that intensity, gain more clarity about how we are feeling, and finally find ways to move forward. In our relationships we connect with others when we allow ourselves to be more vulnerable. Once we have determined that a person is trustworthy and “safe” for us to open up to, there is no better way to let that person see our true colors and give them permission to do the same, than to express our full range of emotions.
Letting yourself cry opens the door to let creativity flow through our minds and bodies along with the sadness. If you are a musician, writer, or artist who is feeling “blocked”, it can be of great help to allow yourself to cry when you are feeling intense sadness, happiness, anger, fear, etc. Once you find a way to express your emotions and your experience, if you choose to share it with others, you may find yourself inspiring, helping, and healing others with similar circumstances.
Even when we look at the good old science of it, crying helps our bodies to release toxins. When we are crying for reasons linked to big emotions, we cleanse ourselves of chemicals that raise the stress hormone in our body (cortisol). When we let our guard down and let the tears flow, we are able to let go of any painful baggage that is holding us back.
Identify those in your life that truly support you. Allow yourself to let go and feel fully around these people. Sometimes the shoulder we can cry on is that of a family member, a partner, or a friend. Sometimes it feels safer to open up to a professional who we know will not judge us or share our secrets with others. Wherever you find your safe space may be, go to it. Know that crying does not make us weak. On the contrary, to be vulnerable and authentic is to be brave.