Have you ever felt empty?
Are you suffering?
Have your emotions run away from you as tears?
Do you stop to think about the meaning of YOUR life?
Victor Frankl in his award winning book “Man’s Search For Meaning”, talks about the suffering he endured in the concentration camps under the authority of the SS.
It’s an uplifting autobiography and I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it.
Frankl shows that having a meaning and purpose in life helps a person endure even the most painful of experience and suffering.
But it’s not a sad and sombre look at the suffering many endured during the second world war, it’s actually an uplifting autobiography on the human experience.
It’s full of wisdom about the resilient mind and how it can withstand even the most intense torture and emotional suffering…how he learnt to make sense of his personal suffering under the hands of the Nazis…and how he processed his suffering by weeping it out of his system. By understanding the meaning of suffering, he was able to emerge content and energised to build an amazing life.
There’s so many learnings from this little gem of a book.
What really grabbed me was Frankl’s wisdom on tears.
“…but there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer…”
and in relation to powerful emotions, he says…
“ I have wept it out of my system”
What do tears mean anyway?
Sadness right? Or they’re an expression of deeply painful emotions.
In my clinical counselling practice, tears tend to emerge rather frequently as my clients gain insights and touch deep pain.
No doubt, the inner experience is painful.
What astounds me is the number of times my dear clients apologise for the expression of there normal human emotion.
As soon as the prickle behind the eye transforms to fluid and the tears start to show…there is discomfort and the tearful person says “I’m sorry”
Why have we made it NOT OK to cry?
Crying is natural.
Laughing is also a natural human emotion.
We can have a belly laugh, a wild raucous laugh, one that makes us squeal with delight and sometimes even catch us off guard and we give permission for the full expression of that emotion of glee without a second thought.
Not so for sadness and not so for tears…
We only know what it means to be “happy” because we have experienced it’s opposite.
Without “sadness” there would be no “happy”.
Sad and happy are just the polar opposites of the same emotional spectrum.
We can only know the feeling of “happy” if we have experienced the feeling of “sad”…otherwise it would be a bland mediocre emotion.
Why do we apologise for a natural and normal human emotion?
The tears are our humanity
Our ability to experience the full range of ALL human emotions from joy to sadness is beautiful.
…and yet we give free expression to laughter but we hold back the tears of sadness.
And we’ve been conditioned to link tears with weakness and vulnerability and even negative traits like impoliteness, or bad manners.
Before you listen to societal norms, consider this…
Victor Frankl tells us how tears are healing. Tears rescued him and his sense of self from Nazi torture that could have left him bitter and twisted and angry.
Being with the sad emotions, helped him face his reality and accept it.
The expression of the inner world is cathartic, normal, natural, human, healthy, positive and real.
Every time we repress and hold in the tears, we deny ourselves.
When we don’t give expression and we choose to Pretend we are happy, we deny an emotion. Our emotions are us.
Remove your emotions and you behave like a robot, a machine.
Sadness is a misunderstood human emotion and our acceptance of the emotional tone of anything that resembles sadness, melancholy or tears is sometimes lacking.
We turn away, we apologise, wipe and quash the tears… turn our back on sadness without giving it expression.
Before you say …Go away sadness…Go away tears… and before you judge the emotion as unsavoury and unpalatable, just consider happiness and sadness are polar opposites of one emotional spectrum, so if you deny yourself tears, you also deny it’s partner happiness.
And no one wants that!!
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