I’m not going to delay telling you the answer to this statement: women should stop crying when… it disempowers them. In fact, in this modern era I’d even suggest the same applies to men.
So, what do I mean? When a woman, or man, burst into tears and cries instead of taking some kind of action then their tears are disempowering them. Crying is a passive action. We want a cuddle rather than fight a tiger. There is a place for crying, I love a good cry, many women do; and liberated men do too.
While watching a sad movie or those heart-tugging commercials, when receiving sad news or even when you feel overwhelmed with love and gratitude and pride, shed a tear. There are happy tears and sad tears, and both are wonderful expressions of emotion.
When tears don’t serve us
But when we burst into tears instead of getting angry, we are trapped by conditioning that doesn’t serve us. Depending on the family we were raised in, the generation we were part of, our gender, our culture, and even our religion, the expression of anger and sadness has been overlaid in conditioning – rules about what is socially appropriate. Not what is emotionally healthy, but what some mysterious ‘other’ has deemed as acceptable.
What this created for many is that, if we weren’t allowed to express our anger but we were allowed to cry, we channelled our unacceptable emotions into the acceptable expression. In other words, when we get angry, we burst into tears and become inactive, passive and disempowered instead of getting angry and taking action – saying no, stating our needs, protecting ourselves from harm, and so forth.
Likewise, if crying isn’t acceptable – ‘big boys don’t cry’ being a great example – then whenever we are sad, we channel our sadness into anger and lash out.
Of course, there were families that didn’t allow anger or crying to be expressed and that meant it was contained at home and let loose in schools, socially, or at random strangers. Or the anger was stored up and used on the sporting field or tears were saved for the sad movie. Or as children we learnt to disconnect from our feelings and became numb.
Disempowering tears stops us from changing our behaviours and from taking responsibility for ourselves. They stop us from holding others accountable for their actions and the hurt we feel. They stop us from feeling our true feelings. They stop us from setting healthy boundaries and maintaining them. They are giving up our power to the person we are crying about. They stop us from facing our own actions and our less-than-desirable traits. They are not helping us live our happiest or most productive life.
What to do about disempowering tears
The first step is to realise that we have cried and got sad instead of angry; that we have become passive when we really wanted to take some kind of action.
Then being fully conscious in that moment when we feel like we will burst into tears our minds need to say to us: STOP! DON’T CRY!
Take a breath. Pull your focus back into your body and feel what you are really feeling. Breathe into your lungs and focus on your real feelings. It’s okay to take a moment to centre yourself and control your responses, especially when strong emotions are being triggered.
Ask yourself: what is the best action I can take right now?
Remember uncontrolled anger, hurting someone just because they hurt us, venting, raging, lashing out, or blaming are never considered ‘best actions,’ ever!
Power, by definition, is the ability to act. Being powerful is putting that ability to use. Personal power is about our ability to act on our own behalf and to do that we must know that we are worthy, that we have the right to act, and we can act to create outcomes that serve us. When we take actions from our personal power then we will act from the truth of who we are and do it with respect for everyone involved.
So, stop crying when you really need to take action!
When do you cry instead of act?