Sadness, anger, and fear are human emotions. They are natural reactions when we experience hurts and losses (sadness), injustices and violations (anger), and threats to our survival (fear).
The problem comes in when don’t express our emotions in a healthy way. To compensate, our minds go in predictable directions. With sadness, we feel poorly about ourselves; with anger, we don’t accept other people and things as they are; and with fear, we catapult out of the present and into the past, future, or use global generalities.
Allowing our minds to entertain these “bad attitudes” only perpetuates sadness, anger, and fear.
This is what has happened to people that I affectionately call “chronic criers.” They don’t honor and respect themselves. They don’t love themselves. People who repeatedly cry for long periods of time have experienced so many hurts and losses, but they haven’t processed their sadness constructively.
Every time something happens in the present moment, their past experiences are triggered and they feel the hurts and losses anew. But because they keep thinking negative things about themselves while crying, the sadness becomes a bottomless pit.
The good news is that chronic criers cry. They’re allowing the physical energy out of their bodies. Hooray! Tears wash us clean.
But the bad news is that while crying they keep telling themselves how unworthy they are, such as “I’m such a loser. I’m little and can’t do anything about what happened. I’m unlovable. There must be something wrong with me.” Because they think these kinds of thoughts, they never move through their sadness and experience the joy that’s waiting just out of reach.
You must understand that emotions — sadness, anger, and fear — are nothing more than pure physical sensations in the body. Just think about the word “emotion.” It is really E + motion, energy in motion. If you allow yourself to release that energy from your body in a pure way, you’ll stop crying so much and set the stage to return to your joyous self.
When young children cry, they’re not trashing themselves. There are no words. They’re expressing their emotions cleanly. They skin their knee, need to go to bed and don’t want to, or break their toy and what do they do? They sob. They bawl. And afterwards? They get over it and return to their present, happy, curious, loving self. We need to follow their lead.
When people become chronic criers it’s because they entertain four kinds of predictable thoughts about themselves every time they cry and in between. They tell themselves that they 1) are unworthy, and 2) need other people to approve of them. 3) They make negative self-judgments, and 4) think of themselves as small, hopeless, and helpless.
To change the pattern, you’ve got to start crying cleanly. That means wail and weep as the crocodile tears are flowing. But do not think badly about yourself or think thoughts that make you feel more pathetic and depressed. While crying, you must doggedly interrupt those negative thoughts and either make sounds or state something like “It’s okay. I feel sad. It’s okay to cry. I’m fine.”
Most chronic criers have low self-esteem because over and over they’ve thought badly about themselves. It’s crucial you write down exactly what you’re telling yourself while crying and then find some opposing truths to substitute, both while you are crying and in between.
Here’s a list of “Reliable Truths” that counter a good proportion of your negative self-talk about yourself. Pick a couple that resonate with you and repeat them over and over – while crying, and anytime. I tell clients 100,000 reps will do the job because that will counter the countless times you’ve told yourself the opposite.
Reliable truths to honor yourself and move from sadness to joy:
I am whole and complete.
What I’m seeking is within me.
My job is to take care of myself.
I love myself regardless of what I do.
Life is for learning. We all make mistakes.
I’m doing the best I can. I did the best I could.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have done it differently.
My viewpoints and needs are as valid as yours.
I am responsible for what I think, feel, and do.
I can do this.
If you have a powerful substitute or two on the ready, and you diligently practice the method, you’ll continue to cry when you feel sad but the tears will pass. If you still cry more than you’d like, either accept that as a reality and cry proudly keeping your negative thoughts on the shelf, or seek a trained professional to work on some of the issues that are keeping you in tears.
And if you happen to be around a chronic crier, know what they really need are appreciations to help offset all those crummy messages they have told themselves. So be lavish in your praise. Be genuine, but keep reminding them of what they have forgotten – that they are a wonderful human being.