Many people get confused and worried when they cry while anxious or afraid. Let’s clear this up, because this is NOT a problem.
Is Crying Wrong? Is Crying Avoidance? Does Crying Mean I’m Not Accepting?
Crying is not wrong. Crying is just a thing that humans do, sometimes when we are afraid or uncomfortable. Expressing an anxious state can take many forms. Fidgeting, speeding up, going silent, and even … crying. In the end, crying might be a more intrusive and disruptive expression of your anxious state, but it’s still just an expression of how you’re feeling. It’s not avoidance, a mistake, or an error in acceptance.
If you need to cry … cry. Let it out, then carry on. It’s all OK.
I cry because I am upset.
This is the normal state of affairs for any fully functioning human being. A state of emotional upset may trigger some forms of expression, including crying.
I am upset because I cry.
This is where things kinda go off the rails on us. Being upset because you are crying indicates that you are adding a story on top of your tears that does not need to be there. You are not only feeling and expressing (normal), but you are also interpreting the state and the expression and trying to “figure out” what it means or predicts for you in the context of anxiety and recovery.
Here is important news. It means nothing and predicts nothing. You are simply feeling and expressing. This is not a nightmare, it isn’t wrong, it isn’t failure, and it doesn’t mean you are broken or unable to handle yourself or your recovery.
Often this second part – being upset because you cry – is based on one or both of the following mistaken beliefs:
- I cannot handle my emotions. Feeling big emotions will overwhelm me and put me in a state that I won’t be able to cope with or return from.
- I MUST feel happy or joyful or I am failing! Feeling upset or sad is not acceptable because a recovered person, good parent, good partner, or healed person does not feel negative emotions at inappropriate times.
Both of these beliefs are incorrect and counterproductive in recovery.
Part of the recovery process is learning that you are capable of handling ALL of you. All the body stuff, all the mind stuff, and all the emotional stuff. None is off limits. Recovery teaches us to be fully human, not to engineer away parts of our humanity.
So listen to the entire episode and start letting yourself off the hook when it comes to crying. It’s a normal part of being human and not something that must be overanalyzed, questioned or figured out. Cry if and when you must. It’s really OK.
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Podcast Intro/Outro Music: "Afterglow" by Ben Drake (With Permission)