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Why Is There Shame Associated With Crying? It Just Brings Out The Human In Us

Posted: January 3, 2020

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Though crying has always been associated to babies, it is high time, we, as adults, also indulged in this cathartic activity, says the author, a self-proclaimed crybaby!

Last month, I spent an evening attending the birthday party of a one-year-old. While that should give you an idea of how exciting my life is, I did learn quite a lot from the event. We had all types of babies- bald ones, walking ones, crawling ones, round ones, bouncy ones – all uniting under the common ambition to really cry their loudest.

I feel that babies are rather good with their emotions. Granted, I don’t know much about them but I do know that when a baby is hungry, it is able to cry instantly. That sort of a reaction to hunger is something I aspire to have but stop myself from doing because of reasons such as being in the middle of a presentation.

What I also noticed during the whole day was how people reacted to the crying. It all amounted to subtle and not-so-subtle shaming. You’d see a wide range of reactions varying from ‘chiiiii why are you crying, that’s so bad’ to the stoic ‘don’t cry.’

Really, what is wrong with crying?

It starts out as a way of endearment but when you think about it, a baby learns about how crying is perceived through this process. If we do not accept crying in babies, let alone adults, how do we teach people to deal with the stresses of their life? How are we going to search for emotional releases for our pain without chasing that sweet-sweet tear duct action?

This brings me to the fact that I cry, a LOT. I have cried at home, at work, in theatres, in polling booths, at someone’s wedding, during that scene in Alai Payuthe where Madhavan cries, most of 2014, in heels. And I have cried like I know crying is a human right and we must protect it. I used to be told that that I was too sensitive as a child. Sensitivity was a character flaw back then but as an adult, it has helped me recognise the undercurrent of human interaction and emotion.

I have been able to sustain honest and true relationships in my life because of my sensitivity and empathy. What’s on the surface is a lot of bravado with most of us. Really, all your delivery managers or in-laws are looking for is an ear to listen and a tight hug. Well, maybe not from you but you know, from someone in their lives.

We do need to emote

We cannot continue to live in this ultra-connected world without displaying those parts of ourselves that are demonstrative and wanting. It is particularly difficult for those women and people from marginalised groups who express their emotions by crying.

We are already looked down upon due to a perceived inability to remain detached. And that’s where arises a fear of being pegged as emotional which in personal discussions amount to being irrational. At the same time, in sanitised office spaces, amounts to being unprofessional. In work spaces, the calculated binary outcomes of effort already lead us to tie our worth to our productivity. Such environments can be very stressful and joy or anger could be the only expected way to emote. All of this piles on as we’re hiding our tears in a restroom stall on a difficult Wednesday.

Don’t deprive yourself of tears, they help!

As a crier, it has helped me immensely to pave way for my emotions. I cry, I journal, I talk to friends and most importantly, I feel. It has only made for closure and compassion. And it always bodes well to realise and recognise your emotions to avoid unhealthy manifestations of release. As a society, we must re-imagine our relationships, home and work environments to honour open discussions and healthy expressions of our feelings.

We must also learn to steer away from the shame that is placed on crying and learn to navigate our experiences. When so easily available, why must we deprive ourselves of this natural liberating safety valve?

(Side note about how I’m going to use natural liberating safety valve in a subsequent article about farting.)

So cry on and cry as needed, my friends. We deserve it!

Picture credits: Still from movie Dear Zindagi 

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