“Boys don’t cry” has now widened its scope to “girls don’t cry” either. It’s sad, really – and it’s not the crying part.
When did it become commonplace to not want to feel? We as people feel out of place unless we suppress our feelings and hide our emotions. We don’t seem to feel comfortable crying in front of others, or being in bad moods. Why is that? Humans were designed to feel a gamut of emotions: happy, sad, frightened, stressed, elated, excited, and all kinds of in-betweens. We were not meant to exist at one constant monotone emotion; we were meant to experience ups and downs and acknowledge them. As babies, we don’t analyze what we feel. We just release our emotions; and it’s a natural, healthy pattern.
It seems as if at the first sign of feeling bad, depressed, worried, anxious, or stressed, many adults panic and make the decision that these emotions aren’t good. We don’t like feeling them. So we stop them if we can – as soon as we can - whether that be by popping a pill or self-medicating with a substance, or simply wiping away a tear.
Of course, no one likes feeling sad. And I definitely acknowledge that sometimes depression can become overwhelming, and help is needed in the form of medication and professional assistance. However, when has masking emotion become more acceptable than feeling the feeling? There is benefit to working through a tough time, no matter how many tears are shed, and no matter how many sleepless nights in bed.
Just like when your immune system fights off a cold, when your mind processes feelings and you work through emotion, your psyche develops better coping skills for the future. You also go through a natural healing process when dealing with negative feelings. This process is different for everyone, and I believe there is benefit to finding out how you respond to tough times.
Grieving is one of the hardest concepts for our minds to deal with. We all grieve differently. Sometimes we can get through days or weeks feeling perfectly fine, and then something will remind us of a lost loved one, and we feel the tears well up in our eyes. One of the most comforting things you can do for someone who experiences an unexpected onset of sadness and loss is allow them to let the tears flow and not make them feel like they should hold them back until they are alone.
We are afraid others will judge us for not having a poker face; that they will think we are weak, or less manly or mature. I think that’s at the crux of the issue, really. If crying was just for babies, you would outgrow it, and adults wouldn’t be capable of it. The human body is really pretty marvelous when you stop and think about it; we are built with mechanisms to help it heal, not just physically, but mentally, too.
What puts humans apart from robots is our precious ability to feel things. Sometimes our feelings are inexplicable and conflicting but there is both pleasure and pain to experience in our lifetime, and we should not fear either extreme. Only if we feel moments of sadness or experience being upset do we develop a true appreciation for times of elation and jubilee. I would not want to mask the down times with a prescribed or non-prescribed option at the expense of missing out on the opposite extreme of pure happiness and feeling it to my core.
The freedom to feel, and show what you feel, is a great gift. It’s so liberating to be looked at and not judged for a frown, a tear, or a smile from ear to ear.