I don’t know about you, but I can cry watching a cute TikTok clip. But if people are around, I’ve noticed that I try to keep my emotions in check. Why do I hold back? Why not experience the agony and the ecstasy of shedding tears and having a good old-fashioned ugly-faced cry? With a whole host of mental health challenges plaguing so many today, is crying a helpful tool? Does expressing pent-up emotions have value? The answer is wholeheartedly “YES!”

 Some children are raised hearing, “you want me to give you something to cry about?” or, “little boys don’t cry,” with many internalizing the message that it’s not okay to talk, share or feel. The end result? Adults not knowing what to do with their emotions, not letting themselves have a safe place to experience being vulnerable, believing that crying is unbecoming and makes one look weak.

I believe it is crucial that any loss is acknowledged and mourned before we are able to pick up the pieces and find reasons to move forward and rejoice.

In Rabbi Maurice Lamm’s book, The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning, he describes a ritual of tearing an article of clothing at the burial service of a loved one. The act of the ripping can gently encourage the mourner to openly weep, allowing a flood of tears to emerge. 

Broken heart syndrome or stress-induced cardiomyopathy (also known as takotsubo syndrome), typically occurs after a physically or emotionally traumatic event such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, car accidents, bad fights or near-drowning experiences. A good heart-to-heart with someone you trust might just be what the doctor ordered. 

Motivational speaker, spiritual healer and best-selling author Iyanla Vanzant is a survivor of abuse, neglect and abandonment. One phrase that has stuck with me through the years is, “I did that, but I am not that,” allowing an individual to grieve, cry it out and take that first step into the next chapter of life. The pain of the past does not have to define one’s reality. We can heal our wounds and breathe in all the richness that life has to offer. 

I am ending this article with Vanzant’s words from her book, Yesterday I Cried:

Yesterday, I cried for the woman that I wanted to be. Today, I cry in celebration of her birth. Yesterday, I cried for the little girl in me who was not loved or wanted. Today, I cry as she dances around my heart in celebration of herself. I pray that your yesterday tears be wiped, that you will find the courage to celebrate yourself and the lessons you have lived through, grown through, and learned through. The lessons that have brought you to a deeper realization of yourself, of the child within you… 

And of the adult self that is searching for – and ultimately living in – your authentic self.

Yesterday’s tears are a sign of renewal and hope. My advice on what to do with today’s tears? Just go with the flow.

Dr. Amy Austin is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFC# 41252) and doctor of clinical psychology in Rancho Mirage. Dr. Amy can be reached at (760) 774.0047.

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