Crying is the body’s way to not only reduce emotional stress, but also process it. Think of emotions as an invisible force moving through the body. People tend to think that just because they cannot see or feel their feelings, when they refuse to feel them, they simply go away. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true…
When emotions are held back, such as swallowing or holding back tears, the emotional energy gets congested in the body. Rather than having that flow of emotional force circulating and completing its cycle, it gets stopped up. Thankfully, however, this cycle can be reversed.
Eastern practices of medicine like acupuncture and massage believe that the body physically stores emotion.
Similarly, therapies like DBT teach us that connecting to one’s emotions allows us to respond to an emotional experience more effectively and change the ineffective response patterns we have relied on previously.
For many people, stress causes headaches, neck aches, shoulder tension, and backaches. People have tight hips because the hips are one of the body’s major emotional energy storage spaces. Certain exercises & meditation practices mitigate these physical effects.
Sadly, society has stigmatized the expression of sadness. When somebody cries the common reaction is to make the crying stop. Unknowingly, when someone responds to tears with “Ssssh don’t cry” they’re actually saying, “Stop expressing your emotion through crying, it’s making me uncomfortable,” which really says “Your emotions make people uncomfortable,” which eventually translates to, “feelings are bad”. It’s a tough situation trying to feel! Coincidentally, it is not the comfort, tears, or sympathy of another person which alleviates the emotion behind crying. High percentages of people feel a sense of relief after crying.
Crying is a sign of strength because it is a demonstration of a completely comfortable relationship with the self. Choosing to cry and feel is a choice in the interest of one’s emotional health. Choosing to cry is also choosing not to care about the opinions of others. Since crying is so stigmatized, rising above society’s thoughts is pure authenticity. Crying also helps set an example to others. Especially in recovery when peers are struggling to connect with, articulate, and express their own emotions, seeing someone freely express themselves is inspiring. Not only will they learn from the act of crying, but they will see the transformation that takes place from working through emotions.
Feeling feelings, allowing emotions to be processed, and crying will feel foreign in early recovery. Drugs and alcohol are anesthetizing, numbing the mind as well as the body. Most will admit that part of the allure for abusing drugs and alcohol came with the feeling of not having to feel. Suddenly dealing with all the emotions which haven’t been felt in years can be challenging and triggering. Remember to cry, to feel, and to just let it all out. As with all this, this too shall pass, and recovery will be the better for it.
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