“I’m just worried I’ll go in there and cry.”
“And then I had to leave because I started to cry.”
“I haven’t spoken to anyone today because I’m afraid I’ll burst into tears.”
When was the last time you said something like this?
Have you felt this way lately?
So many of us find ourselves holding back tears, apologizing for crying, or avoiding other people because we’re afraid we might cry. I’ve had this conversation with several people this month.
Perhaps it’s the changing of the seasons that’s bringing out our emotions. I know that as the leaves gradually drop to the ground, and the trees are left bare, my own mood often shifts to the melancholy and the blue.
It’s harder to be sad on sunshiny days, but as the grey, white, and brown of winter sets in, thoughts and feelings that might have been covered up by the sparkle of summertime come to surface.
One of my clients recently went through a breakup, and found herself wanting to avoid the reality of her emotions; the rawness of her heartbreak. Another client was advocating for herself with her supervisor during her annual review, and found herself on the verge of tears. Still another client received rejection letters in the mail; reminding him of opportunities lost. In all of these situations, it is understandable, even natural, to want to cry.
Recently, I watched the movie, Inside Out. The movie features the relationship between two main characters – the emotion of Joy and the emotion of Sadness. The plot of the movie weaves the needs of Joy and Sadness together as they face challenges, and illustrates how there is space and need for both of them in a human life.
While happiness and joy are most beautiful and lovely emotions, let’s remember that we are human, and sadness is okay, too.
Apologizing or avoiding sadness, not letting people see your tears or low points, is not the authentic you. Most of us feel happy and sad and all sorts of other emotions.
So, when we feel ourselves pushing back tears, avoiding loved ones so they won’t see us cry, or leaving vital conversations because we might cry or will cry, let’s remind ourselves of our humanity.
It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay even to do these things in front of other people.
A teacher I admire, Nisha Moodley, says, “never be sad alone.”
I think sometimes we need to be sad alone, to figure out what’s happening, but I also understand the point – that we need to let people in, to be vulnerable, to let them see our weaknesses.
If we could do this better, we could find space from a broken open place to heal, to grow, to support one another.
Let there be space for joy, for happiness, for light.
Let there be space for sadness, melancholy, and shadow.
With kindness and courage,