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When we cry: we're told to not

Pain is a universal experience, if we were to accept it, we'll probably not shy away from sharing it and be better behaved when someone else shares their pain with us.

We're not taught how to deal with pain. When we cry, we're frequently told to stop crying. We're handed over a box of tissues to wipe off our tears and be strong. So, we spend our growing-up years, holding back tears after an injury on the playground, a fight with a bestie in school, or a refusal to a second helping of ice cream. Early on, we learn that crying is a sign of weakness and teach the same to the kids we raise. How often do you tell your girls, forget boys, to not be a crybaby?

No wonder, as adults we duck from pain. We stand confused and ashamed when tears begin to roll down our cheeks. When faced with grief over the loss of a loved one, we're quick to remind ourselves that we need to move on, refusing to nurse our hurting hearts. When confronted with a work battle, if we get teary-eyed, we're quick to apologise for inappropriate behaviour, lest called melodramatic. Whilst watching a movie, if our eyes well up, we're labelled Mr/Ms Waterworks and are compelled to laugh and join those mocking our sensitivities.

Strangely enough, we don't do the same when it comes to uncontrollable giggles, peels of laughter, or infectious smiles - we don't nudge one another to brush happiness under the carpet. When our son wins a game at school, we don't ask him to go to his room, sit quietly, and celebrate all by himself; rather, we have people over and share doughnuts. But when he tells us he had a bad day at the game, we tell him not to 'discuss' it in front of an outsider. Worse, we tell him to get over, lecture him on discipline, and perhaps hand a doughnut as consolation. We do the same as adults, we're quick to splash fresh, cold water on our face, to hide the fact that we were upset just minutes before.

Suppressing, avoiding or shutting down is how we choose to deal with pain. Whilst my female counterparts still have a chance at showing their emotions, the males aren't permitted to act all girly, and unmanly. Still, genders aside, it's ingrained in us that the natural response to stress and sadness is best left in a corner, unspoken about.

"Pain is normal, and believe it or not, healthy," but nobody sits us down and tells us so. What if we had a chance to experience sadness, hurt or loss? What if we were to tell one another that crying was not a sign of weakness? What if crying was true that one thing one needed to crawl out of the sheet, to hit re-start, to accept, and move on? Don't deny yourself that chance to heal. Because it's okay to cry.

Wounds of all kinds need treatment. If we were to open our hearts to pain, we'll not only heal better but also learn how to protect ourselves and others in the future. Pain is a universal experience, if we were to accept it, we'll probably not shy away from sharing it and be better behaved when someone else shares theirs with us. We can still be strong, but first, we have to allow ourselves the chance to absorb the pain.

Disclaimer: This is a place where now and then — we pause to make sense of a routine existence. We turn into bystanders (as we witness our lives go by) — observing, absorbing, questioning, wondering...


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