Break the Dam, Release the River – Why Emotional Crying is Healthy
Crying is caused by the body’s production of tears. There are three types of tears.
1. Basal tears. Basal tears are omnipresent in our eyes. These constant tears are what keep our eyes from drying out completely. The human body produces an average of 5 to 10 ounces of basal tears each day.
2. Reflex tears. Reflex tears serve to protect the human eye from harsh irritants such as smoke, onions or a strong, dusty wind.
3. Emotional tears. Emotional tears begin in the cerebrum where sadness is registered. The endocrine system is then triggered to release hormones to the ocular area, which then causes tears to form.
In this Blog post I only refer to the shedding of emotional tears.
Almost everyone who cries in public, apologises for it. We feel that others feel uncomfortable witnessing our tears. We don’t want to make others feel uncomfortable – we feel uncomfortable enough as it is. So we apologise.
The witnessing party will usually say that it’s alright, it’s okay – ‘Don’t worry; you’ll be fine … ‘ Anything to stop our tears, because indeed they find it uncomfortable to see us cry.
In Western society crying is seen as a weakness. We don’t want to be seen as weak. We want to appear strong. We believe the strong will be successful whereas the weak will fail.
We tell ourselves: ‘Hold back your tears. Bite your cheek or your finger; hurt yourself in some way to distract yourself from crying. Don’t cry. Don’t show your emotions.
‘Build a dam. A strong dam that will withhold the smallest tear. Let grief, sadness, anger, fear, disappointment and the lot, build behind the dam but never show! Be strong, be invulnerable, untouchable.’
And the dam builds. The dam grows strong.
And the tears behind the dam build. The tears grow strong.
Depending how life unfolds – depending on how many challenges life throws at you – the dam is stronger or the tears are stronger. If the tears have built up so strong that they have become stronger than the dam, the dam will break.
The dam will break and the tears can run freely.
Break the dam
When this happens, at first it feels catastrophic. But soon you will notice how relieved you feel when the river of tears has run freely – there is no more power struggle within, between the dam and the tears. There is relaxation inside, a softening, that feels like a widening of space – of possibilities for something new. You may feel tired, and defeated at first, but when the tears have dried up and you have blown your nose, drank a glass of water and have calmed down, you feel a lot better than before.
Emotional crying is a detox
Crying is healthy. Crying is letting go of old emotions that hinder you and serve you no longer. Crying is a cleanse to your system. Crying is relaxing the muscles that had to keep the dam in place – this could have taken so much strength it made you ill. Crying is creating space for new things to happen and unfold.
In life, on a physical level, chemicals build up in the body during times of elevated stress. Research shows that emotional crying is the body’s way of ridding itself of these toxins and waste products.
Release the river
Crying is just another expression of emotions, like laughter is. Laughter is healthy. Laughter is relaxing, opening up our system, our lungs, our thinking and our ability to connect with others. They say laughter is the shortest distance between two people. How about crying?
If we can judge crying as the simple expression of how we feel, like laughter, and if we stop having such fear around it, we would be balanced beings. We can’t always laugh. Yet we want to. But such isn’t life. Life is fun or comfortable, at times, and life is sad or scary, at times. Why show how it makes us feel for the one half, and not for the other?
We can’t always cry, either. It may seem as if you’ll never stop crying, once you’ve started. The amount of tears breaking the dam may feel endless. But it’s not. It cannot be. Human nature is simply not made for only laughing, or only crying. They will both stop at some time, and life will simply go on, if you want it or not.
So don’t fear crying. Cry if you must, and let it all go. Soon you will feel lighter, and you will be able to think clearer, and be more creative. Solutions to your problems may naturally present themselves, where you first thought you had to invent them all alone.
The more you cry, the less you’ll cry
Just like with laughter, you will be more connected to the whole, once you allow this other half of how you feel, to be free. Your productivity will increase, as well of your overall well-being. Your relationships will be better. You will feel happier.
Permitting yourself to cry, will make you happier. The more you cry, the less you’ll cry!
If you like the idea but are terrified of crying, remember this: I can hold a loving, comforting space for you as you explore your dam and your tears. If you don’t want to be alone when your dam breaks, if you want to release the river together, let me know and I’ll be there for you.