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How to Find The Strength in Your Tears

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TearsMany of you have been through painful things I can’t even begin to imagine and some, I can.

Some that come to mind:

  • Not being able to conceive
  • Losing a child
  • Losing a spouse
  • Losing anyone…
  • Breakups
  • Worries
  • Disease or Sickness
  • Divorce
  • Losing a job
  • Getting evicted
  • Finding out someone wasn’t who you thought they were…
  • Being deceived or manipulated by someone

And when you’re in it, it feels like the plague – like it’s never going to end.  And there are tears.

And oh yeah, the happy tears:
  • Watching your kid graduate – from Kindergarten or High School, take your pick…
  • Watching your kid get married
  • Feeling deeply loved or being asked “the” question
  • Getting flowers
  • Someone going out of their way to remember something you’re SURE they had forgotten

A Few Things About Your Tears

They are an outward expression of the purest emotion inside you.  

Unless you’re putting on a really good act, eating onions, or acting in a movie scene, we believe they are real and you know they are.  They are an outward manifestation of the purest reflection of the raw emotion you are feeling.

They are salty.

Which basically means, they purify.  Yeah, you know what that means – let it flow!

They heal.

There’s something about a good, long or short, cry that just makes us feel better most of the time – even if temporarily.

All this being true, I sat down to write this after finishing a show on TV that highlighted a reality TV star who is possibly unable to conceive.  And as she began to sob on camera, it caught my attention the words she used – “I’m sorry.”  Then, I had another memory of an entertainment celebrity apologizing for her tears, recently on her show, when giving a speech about her breast cancer experience.

For whatever reason, I have never noticed it before now, as well as you probably haven’t, but it hit me tonight that this is what we do – we apologize anytime we become emotional in the presence of a group or others – especially if we don’t know them well.

I thought to myself, “why is she apologizing for crying?”  Then I answered how most of us would – “that’s what people do, Tamisha – they apologize for crying.”

Why do we do that?  Why is it not okay to become emotional whenever we want?

The reason is that we feel we are making others uncomfortable by showing our emotion in such a raw way.  But often times, it’s what people most crave in real relationships – not necessarily tears, but the vulnerability behind the tears.  This is because we humans desire vulnerability in others – it makes us feel real, understood, not alone.

Brene Brown actually teaches that vulnerability is the one thing we want to see in others and the last thing we want to see in ourselves.  I love her research on vulnerability.   

I would like to modify that for Strong & Soulful Living today.

Vulnerability (our tears) is the one thing others do that makes us feel strong (because vulnerability takes courage and, when we see others be strong, we feel strong), and it’s the last thing we do because it makes us feel weak. 

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying crying at work every day to get your way or using it as weapon is smart.  However, in an environment where we’re surrounded by people who care about us and perhaps, even expect us to cry, why do we say “I’m sorry?”

What I would like for us to do a little less of is apologize as often for tears that are really natural for us, and are purifying our current state of emotion.  And no, men are NO exception.

I want us to begin to find the strength in our tears.  Here’s how:

  1. When you start crying or feel the emotion rising and you feel that apology about to come up, instead I want you to express what you’re feeling to the person or group.  So…it could sound like this; “I’m so happy” or “I’m feeling so hurt right now” or “I am so angry, all I can do is cry.”  Learn to express the emotion without apologizing for it.  You will feel more empowered to move through the emotion, and move closer to allowing the people in your presence embrace the rawest parts of you – it will be difficult at first, but you can do it.
  2. After you express the feeling, set aside any other agenda and let the person or people know what is going through your mind.  (And don’t apologize for those thoughts, either…)  People know when others are emotional, they think worst-case scenario or on a grander scale.  You don’t have to explain that to people who know and love you or even a room full of folks who don’t.  We are all human – we just haven’t quite gotten to the place where we’re completely okay exposing that vulnerability yet.

After this, see if you feel stronger.  Let it flow.  And come back and let me know…

Thank you for reading.  Love & warmth as always,
P.S. — So what are your thoughts on the whole “apologizing and crying” thing?  Let’s talk about it in the comments…

Comments(6)

  • Jessica
    September 19, 2012, 7:48 am  Reply

    What a great post! Your insight on apologizing for our vulnerability is so refreshing. Amazing that, in general, most people would love vulnerability from others yet we have such a hard time being vulnerable ourselves. I think in many ways our ability to gain relationships through honest vulnerability is one of the scariest and rewarding experiences we can have.

    • September 19, 2012, 11:09 am

      Jessica – I agree with you. I love how you said “our ability to gain relationships through honest vulnerability.” Seems like that’s a prerequisite to having rewarding relationships, yet one of the hardest things to be comfortable with. So maybe the breakdown of many relationships actually stems from our thinking being strong is NOT succumbing to the vulnerable side of ourselves, when, in fact, it’s really the opposite.

  • Misty
    September 25, 2012, 4:17 pm  Reply

    I have never thought of this! What a brilliant observation Tamisha. You really made me think. Why do we apologize? I think we worry more about making other people uncomfortable than we worry about whatever we are feeling causing us to cry. You are right – we shouldn’t apologize. We should let our emotions flow naturally. I absolutely love Brene Brown. I have two of her books and I have to say she just might be my new fave author. She is so real. I have the Gifts of Imperfection and I thought It Was Just Me (dealing with shame) I highly recommend them to everyone.

    • September 25, 2012, 5:00 pm

      Beautiful, Misty! Thank you so much for reading. 🙂

  • Lisa Cara
    August 7, 2014, 2:38 pm  Reply

    I finally figured out much of this-and it is so true. But, I also was raised NOT to show emotion-which eventually spills out from overloaded unexpressed feeling. I began to cry uncontrollably and for every emotion I had. (I suspect, being female this seemed more acceptable to do than express anger and I had a lot of anger). I apologized because of feeling shamed at losing emotional control-a sort of ptsd. Either way, it was not a good feeling. I know I am stronger than ever now-and I will not apologize for honesty again, not even to myself.

    • August 7, 2014, 3:04 pm

      Love that, Lisa. Thank you for sharing that here. Your vulnerability is beautiful.

      –T

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