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  • Writer's pictureDr. Maura Ferguson

Unlocking the Power of Tears: Can we think of crying as a superpower?

The transformative Power of Crying.

Tears are powerful communication

Why Do We Cry? Revealing the emotional intelligence Behind Tears

Have you ever surprised yourself by crying? Found yourself crying unexpectedly and understood why you are crying? Tears always have something to tell us if we can cultivate curiosity about them. They can be a release of tension and a plea for connection. Crying is our earliest form of communication. We are born crying, and it is a sign of health in a newborn and a healthy attachment behaviour that fosters relationships between people. We should continue to think about the capacity to cry as a strength throughout our lifespan and a source of our resilience rather than something to be avoided and hidden away.

The many faces of tears: Decoding emotional signals

Tears are associated with sadness, and people cry when they are feeling sad or depressed, but crying can represent much more. Crying can come from feeling overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, exhausted, lonely, confused, ashamed and when we experience a range of conflicting emotions simultaneously. People cry when they feel joyful, often when the joy collides with loss and grief. So many of us have become fearful or ashamed of crying, which can be paralyzing and render a person stuck to avoid painful feelings rather than work through them. In therapy, I have worked with many people who apologize for being tearful. Before we can process their emotions, I start the work with how it is for them to cry with me and in general. People often express concerns that they are weak or that I or others will judge them harshly. 

Building Bridges through shared tears

Learning How to Cry in a helpful or even transformative way demands thoughtfulness and awareness. Some people are unable to cry for several reasons that are worth exploring within a therapeutic relationship if it is causing them suffering or feeling disconnected from those around them. People who call will likely know that not everyone can respond to their tears appropriately. 

  1. Unraveling emotional hang-ups: Tearfulness arouses anxiety and defensiveness in some people. They can check out their insecurity around their tears and their sense that others are better or stronger than or judging them. Being able to remind yourself that some people don't know how to respond to tears due to their psychological characteristics may move away from viewing themselves as weak or abnormal while viewing others as superior to them. This awareness can go a long way to reducing the social pressure they feel to apologize for who they are or where they are emotionally.

  1. Building Bridges through Shared Tears: More emotionally expressive people may surround themselves with people who understand them and 'get them' as much as possible. For some people, this process of destigmatization begins with friends and community, and for others, it may start with psychotherapy. When there is reduced pressure to be more stoic or emotionally dismissive, there is space to understand their tears better and to attend to the source of suffering or conflict. For people experiencing grief or bereavement, this is particularly critical.

  2. Nurturing ourselves through exploration: Examine the quality of tears. How often are you crying? Are you able to cry with others or only alone? How do you feel after crying? Are you fearful of not being able to stop crying? These are all essential qualities of crying to be exploring. Cultivate curiosity and compassion about your feelings that you might offer to a beloved friend or child. 

  3. Recognize the intelligence of feeling: In a society fixated on cognitive processing, acknowledging that crying and feeling are forms of profound thinking is revolutionary. As humans, we are capable of much more than that. Feeling our emotions and crying are forms of processing raw emotional data vital to being human and allow us to refine our intuition and sense of self as a dynamic tuning fork. Valuing our emotional processing does not require that we dispense with our rational thought process altogether but that we balance different ways of processing information.

People and personalities vary significantly, as does our capacity to cry. Psychotherapists know that if we can learn to pay attention to our tears and attend to them, we can find a transformative power and increased self-awareness in our tears, allowing us more options in creating a meaningful and satisfying connection to ourselves and others. Highly sensitive people and emotional explorers have much to offer the world through their strong attunement to their emotional environment.


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