Tears

Every day our bodies talk to us. In many ways they send signals, clues. The question is, are we listening? Do we pay attention to what they’re trying to tell us?

Tears is one example of how my body helps me tune into who I am, what matters to me, and what I need.

I cry easily. Most people who know me have witnessed that! My tear ducts seem to have a permanent open-door policy. The lock on their doors has never worked, and the key remains missing!

So what? So a lot of embarrassing and mortifying moments – at home with brothers and parents, at school with friends and teachers, at work with colleagues and bosses, and in professional and personal groups.

My inability to squelch tears has, for years, felt like a liability, proof of some inherent weakness, an obvious display of imperfection — lack of control over my emotions.

A variety of situations trigger my tears, especially when I’m short on sleep but even when well rested. When I feel overwhelmed or moved by emotion, whether negative or positive, tears rush stinging and spilling from the corners of my eyes. And, people notice!

Intense fear, frustration, or anger; sadness, feeling misunderstood, or outright hurt — any of these sensations is likely to provoke tears.

For example, as a member of a local speaking group for women, I recently gave a speech about an aspect of my life that has helped shape who I am today. During my speech, I struggled to talk through choking up and drying my wet face while describing a common yet deeply challenging aspect of my childhood.

I felt ashamed of my display of emotion and wanted to bolt out of the room as quickly as possible! Imagine my surprise when the speakers’ group offered gracious and unexpected feedback that helped me consider tears in a new, more kind light: a gift of authenticity to the audience.

I learned that one should never apologize for tears or a show of genuine emotion during a speech. In fact, they can even enhance the impact of a presentation.

Apparently, such “imperfection” can be powerful! In sharing ourselves honestly, we give others permission to tune into and express their authentic selves, including their emotions. And that’s actually a good thing, rather than cause for shame.

That’s a novel perspective for me, and I like it!

My tendency to cry shows up not only when facing difficult moments, but also when witnessing beauty, wonder, and love. Or when overcome by deep contentment, sudden joy, or a rush of gratitude or inspiration.

But there’s nothing quite like watching a touching performance or loving gesture by children, especially mine!

Tears, I realize, are simply an indicator of how I interact with life. They reveal my highly sensitive nature. When my heart reacts, so do my tear glands. They are one of the numerous ways my body shines a light on the fact that something important is going on, and that I need to pay attention.

As I learn to understand more deeply my natural and sometimes inconvenient or confusing inclinations, I realize how important it is to pay careful attention to what my heart and body are telling me. I feel empowered by listening closely to their many clues, including tears!

What about you? What clues or signals do your body and heart give you? Do you know what they are trying to tell you?

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