I almost always have a tissue within arms-reach for on oncoming sneeze, at-the-ready for a bout with high-mountain allergies, or to spit out stale gum. Certainly, in a counseling office, there are tissues close by. During a session, if there are tears that flow, I do not initiate passing you a box of tissues. Not from a lack of courtesy but from an abundance of respect for you and your tears; honoring the expression of your emotions. Bearing witness to heartfelt emotions. Tears that spring forth from joy or deep pain–and the full spectrum of emotional experiences in between–are a powerful way the physical body releases the intensity of emotional stress or grief. There can be a powerful resonance in allowing your tears to flood your eyes, and feel the liquid drops as they splash onto your face. Tears that roll down your cheeks and air-dry on skin are a gift of spirit. Aspects of our culture, society, professions, family of origin, and relationships all contribute to how crying and tears are experienced.
At times there may be outdated messages that contribute to suppression or choking-back of tears. Old “message tapes” from childhood may create (negative) emotional triggers (“stop your crying,” “you’re being a cry-baby,” “boys aren’t supposed to cry,” etc). As you find yourself “in the now” as you shed tears or weep…give yourself permission to feel the breadth and depth of your emotions. If you want a tissue, there will be one nearby. However, if you want to wipe your tears with the back of your hand or your shirt or sleeve, or if you choose to not wipe your eyes and face at all…absolutely great, experience all that! What does that feel like? Often, better. May you bear witness to your own tears as an expression of your humanity. Accept your tears in ways that are affirming and accepting. Change, growth, and healing are taking place. How long has it been since you tasted your own tears?