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Have you ever found yourself sitting somewhere alone as tears rolled down your face but feeling desperate to keep your composure and even becoming embarrassed at the fact that you are doing such a poor job at “keeping yourself together”?
If you are like most people, then you have probably experienced a moment like this before. Maybe you see tears as weakness and would do just about anything to keep anyone from ever knowing you had cried. Perhaps you even believe that strong people can handle their hard circumstances without allowing it to affect them in the slightest, at least certainly not in the form of tears.
However, I want to break this very destructive myth and say that crying is not a sign of weakness; in fact, it can be one of the key aspects required to be a strong emotional healthy individual.
There is no benefit to “keeping it all together.” It does not help yourself, others, or your situation. In fact, when we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, we are better able to handle what life throws at us. Expressing emotions will enable you to release the stress and pain you would otherwise be carrying inside. When we carry too much inside without allowing that release, we become overwhelmed and frazzled at the idea of having to receive more into our lives.
A study in 2012 by psychotherapist Eric L. Garland of Florida State University found those who restrained their thoughts and emotions more often had more reactive stress responses than those who were more emotionally open. This study confirms that it’s crucial to protect our minds, hearts, and souls by being willing to feel our emotions.
Think of a time that you held all of your emotions in and didn’t give yourself space to let them out. What did that do for you? Did it make you feel better? Stronger? Did you explode later? Did it move you forward or keep you stuck?
Now think of a time that you allowed yourself to release the pressure that was building inside. Did you feel better afterward? Did it make you feel lighter? Did this move you forward or make you feel stuck?
What were the differences in these scenarios, and which one seemed to help you the most?
I just want you to think through these questions, to really grasp this concept of letting yourself feel. Don’t worry! You aren’t going to get stuck in those down emotions. A matter of fact, crying emotional tears releases oxytocin and endorphins, which are feel-good hormones. When these hormones wash over you, your mind will be freed up to make good decisions that will help you move forward.
So, next time you feel like you are stuck, unable to move forward, or overwhelmed with even a bit of added pressures, find a quiet space, and allow yourself to release your emotions. This may look like crying in your car on the way home from work or beating your pillow until all its fluff is gone. Whatever release may look like to you, allow yourself the space to let go of the welled up emotions that are causing you pain so that you may be able to handle tomorrow with a clearer mind and more confident spirit.