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Stop reacting to tears.

Updated: Jul 17, 2022

We need to stop reacting to tears. Let’s start treating them as sweat droplets coming from eyeballs, and just know that some of us are sweatier than others. I’ve noticed that the mere presence of tears in a conversation disrupts and distracts from whatever caused the tears, and it’s gotta stop. Like… immediately.

My therapist doesn’t react or comment on my tears or the fact that I am crying and it’s truly amazing! She just listens as I cry through whatever I’m trying to say. She may take notes about my reactivity, but she wants to hear what I have to say, and interrupting me to acknowledge my tears would not help at that moment (I’d likely forget what I was saying by the time I got back to it, anyway). I have never experienced this before and for such a simple concept, it is a complete game-changer.

So much progress and healing is being stifled under the guise of keeping others “comfortable”. But think about it, who is actually made comfortable by humans pretending they don’t have emotions, hmmm? I don’t think it’s been working out super well for us, so I suggest we grow up and stop acting like tears are indicative of anything other than the fact that a person is experiencing an emotion. If you want the tears to stop, address what is causing them.

Similar to triggers. Instead of avoiding triggers, we should be leaning into them. Why did it trigger you? What are you going to do about it? Is that effective? These are helpful reactions. The trigger is not the event to examine. The cause and cure to your triggers are way more interesting and helpful to future-you.

So let’s stop shush-ing each other during moments of vulnerability. It is toxic and ensures we never build authentic relationships and communities. ‘Don’t cry. It’s okay.’ has never helped anyone while they were crying. Let’s try allowing each other (and ourselves) to be full humans, accepting our emotional vulnerability as opportunity for deeper connection and understanding. 

*To encourage participation in this challenge, consider this story I think about at least once a week.*

I was in sixth grade, and apparently I did something to disturb a classmate because during recess, she gathered a nice crowd of 12 year olds to witness her tell me all about myself. When the ordeal was over and the crowd dispersed, a girl I barely knew named Mica came over to me and said, “Its okay if you want to cry.”

I get emotional every time I think about her and that moment of kindness. I don’t remember at all what the bully said to me or why, but I remember Mica giving me permission to cry. For that, she will always have a special place in my heart. Be Mica, not one of the people in the crowd who “felt bad” for me silently…


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