Different Tears for Different Times

By Linda Reyburn Shirey

Different Tears for Different Times

If you’ve ever tried to explain the difference between crying for joy and crying for sorrow – to a friend or spouse – this article will satisfy the listener’s skepticism about different emotions sparking different tears (“Looking At Tears Under a Microscope“).

Sometimes, as women in small businesses, we get some erroneous ideas about tears:

1. Big Girls Don’t Cry. We’re supposed to hold the fort together with a grim look in the eye, and hold off on tears until the battle is won.

2. Tears Are For Sissies. Slightly related, but this seems to mean that tears are never a good idea. There’s no time for cathartic release, for letting down your hair or doffing your armor. Life is just one big No Cry Zone.

3. Play Like the Big Boys. Since men aren’t supposed to cry, and we’re often competing in a male business world, we’re not supposed to cry either. They won’t respect us for showing our feelings, and we won’t respect ourselves for looking vulnerable.

4. Tears Don’t Fix Anything. Maybe tearing up doesn’t solve all issues, but it sure does change your chemicals. One of the reasons why it’s good to have some emotional tears is because of that helpful ‘clean’ feeling that comes afterward, from a natural painkiller emitted by the body (leucine enkephalin).

5. Tears Are Illogical. Okay, so maybe tears don’t always fit a cause-and-effect situation, and the immortal Spock probably wouldn’t approve of them. So what. There’s more to life than being reasonable, and sometimes the Enlightenment Age has done more harm than good by trying to tell us that emotions = badness.

Truth – Not All Emotions Are For Public Viewing

Sometimes you will have to control your emotions in public, and wait until you can make it to a bathroom to cry and wipe off the mascara, because it’ll negatively impact the troops. (Ronald Reagan knew that it was important to wait for collapse from a bullet until he was inside the hospital – his people and his enemies needed to see that he was strong. He didn’t try to keep from collapsing at all, or refuse medical help for the bullet wound.)

It’s also important to pick your audience for your tears. Some people will see it as a sign of weakness, and try to move in for the kill (reporters, competitors, etc). Sometimes your family has seen you cry a lot, so maybe you should have coffee with an understanding friend or family member, and let it all out. The one thing you shouldn’t do is try and pretend like life should never include reasons to cry.

Truth – A Positive Outlook Is Important

Weeping Willow

No, people will not want to do business with you if you’re a continual dripping faucet, a Moaning Myrtle or a Weeping Willow.

Truth – Brick Walls Sometimes Knock Us Flat

Crying doesn’t mean you’re not tough. Crying doesn’t mean you’re not clever enough to suppress those telltale signs of internal distress. Crying doesn’t necessarily mean you’re weak, or manipulative, or unable to handle life’s blows. When we are being weak-minded or trying to use tears to bully people into doing what we want (it does happen), we should admit that.

Truth – Salt Drops Do Not Equal An Internal Lack

Sometimes it means that life is tough and stressful, and something’s gotta give. Sometimes it means that we’ve finally reached a mountaintop, and there’s going to be yelling in relief and tears that look like spindly trees. Let’s not try to pretend that we can handle everything with decorum at all times, or that everyone has to be our audience for whatever emotion is passing through. Tears happen, life happens, and sometimes a good cry over a latte is all you need to brace yourself for getting through that next step.

Linda Reyburn ShireyLinda Reyburn ShireyEditor and Creative Business Writer
Linda currently works as a freelance writer and researcher, having previously spent 10 years in office administration, from attorneys to accountants to international marketers. She enjoys helping small businesses clarify their content and message to the world.

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