A crying need

Chronic criers need to change the story they are telling themselves

Do you know someone who cries a lot? Somehow, these folks seem out of balance. It’s hard to be around them, but even worse, if we’re the chronic crier, often it’s hard to be around ourselves.

Sadness, anger, and fear are normal human emotions. They are natural reactions when we experience hurt and losses [sadness], injustice and violations [anger], and threats to our survival [fear].

The problem begins when we don’t express our emotions in a healthy way. To compensate this, 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’ve reached a stage in their life where they don’t honour and respect themselves. They ceased to love themselves. People who repeatedly cry for long periods of time have experienced so much hurt and loss, but they haven’t processed their sadness constructively. Every time something happens in the present, their past experiences are triggered and they feel the hurt and losses anew. But because they keep thinking negative things about themselves while crying, the sadness becomes a bottomless pit.

The pros and cons of crying

The good news is that chronic criers cry and tears wash them clean. They’re allowing the physical energy out of their bodies.

But the bad news is that while crying they keep telling themselves negative things about themselves, 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.

We 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 a chronic crier allows himself to release that energy from his body in a pure way, he’ll stop crying so much and set the stage to return to a joyous self.

Crocodile tears are good

When young children cry, they’re not trashing themselves. There are no words. They’re expressing their emotions cleanly. Whether it is when they skin their knee, or when they don’t want to go to bed on being told to, or when they have just broken their toy. What do they do? They sob. They bawl. And afterwards? They get over it and return to their present, happy, curious, loving selves. We need to follow their lead.

When people become chronic criers it’s because they entertain the following four kinds of predictable thoughts about themselves every time they cry and in between.

  1. They are unworthy
  2. They need other people to approve of them
  3. They make negative self-judgements
  4. They 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 though 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 or state something like “It’s okay that I feel sad; It’s okay to cry. I’m fine.”

Say this to yourself when you cry

Most chronic criers have low self-esteem because over and over they’ve thought badly about themselves. It’s crucial that 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.

Below is 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, or even any other time. I tell my clients that 100,000 reps will do the job because that will counter the countless times you’ve told yourself the opposite.

Reliable Truths to honour 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 am alone, and I am connected.
  • 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 anyone’s.
  • 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 practise the method, you’ll continue to cry when you feel sad but the tears will pass. If you still cry more than you 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, what they really need is appreciation to help offset all those crummy messages they have been telling themselves. So be lavish and genuine in your praise. Keep reminding them of what they have forgotten—that they are wonderful human beings.

This was first published in the April 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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