This past Friday I had a call with a mentor of mine. She is an incredibly dynamic, talented woman and leader in the retail space. She has always been supportive and encouraging of my endeavours both on a personal and professional level.
It had been a while since we'd connected and I knew there were things going on in her life - challenging things that we would want to talk about.
As she told me about them, she began to tear up, and quickly apologized for doing so. And it made me think, why do we apologize for crying?
We apologize because we're worried about making the person we're crying with to feel uncomfortable. We apologize for taking a human interaction to a different level (we rarely start a conversation expecting to cry). We are also sometimes apologizing to ourselves, for letting our guard down, for letting the tears come.
But what if crying (especially with another) is actually one of the healthiest things we can do?
Keep in mind this statement is coming from someone who prided herself on "hardly ever crying". For having a stiff upper lip and powering through tough situations. For remaining composed at all costs. Part of my healing over the last few years has included allowing myself to cry more freely. I cry a lot more easily these days, and I feel more in touch with myself than I ever have.
I did some digging on the benefits of crying and interestingly there hasn't been a ton of conclusive research. But what I did find is that tears show others we are vulnerable, and vulnerability is key to authentic human connection. Vulnerability is the only way to truly get close to someone.
I believe though that even crying alone, without the presence of another has benefits. Tears can be a sign from the body just like pain or tension. They are a sign that we are processing a change, or that something isn't as it should be, or that we've experienced some sort of loss. Sometimes tears are just a reminder of what matters most to us.
While scientists might not be able to conclusively explain why we cry and what the benefits are, there is one thing I do know for sure.
We should not be apologizing for crying.
Next time you're with someone and you feel the tears coming, resist apologizing. Assuming you're with someone you trust, let them be a witness to your tears. Let them be there for you even if all they do is sit with you without saying a word. Know that you are creating a moment of connection for them, just as much as for you.
“Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
This post originally appeared in Kena's Sunday Newsletter. If you'd like to sign up, you can do so here.