By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
“Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.” – Golda Meir
Do you have a lid on your tears? Do you also have a hard time laughing with your whole body?
Our tears are a God-given way of expressing sadness, just as laughter is a God-given way of expressing fun and joy. Both laughter and tears release stress in loving ways, rather than having to release it through anger or through holding it in your body, which can eventually cause physical pain and illness.
However, there are two kinds of tears, wounded tears and authentic, core tears.
Wounded tears are the tears we express when we are feeling like a victim. Wounded tears come from the pain that we are causing ourselves with our own self-abandonment. When we do not take loving care of our own feelings – instead ignoring our feelings, judging them, and avoiding them with various addictions – we might then project on to others that they are abandoning us and are the cause of our emotional pain.
Wounded victim tears are a manipulation of others, trying to make others feel guilty and responsible for you. The hope of wounded tears is that the other person will feel sympathy and pity for you, and give you the love and attention that you are not giving to yourself. Wounded tears are a way of avoiding personal responsibility for yourself – emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Wounded tears are a bottomless pit. Because they are being caused by your own self-abandonment, your misery will not go away until you choose to take responsibility for your self.
When you are at the other end of another’s wounded tears, you might feel put off by them. This is a normal reaction to the manipulation and is not an indication that you are a heartless person. When you don’t feel moved by another’s tears, there is a good chance that it is because their tears are trying to make you feel guilty and responsible for them.
Authentic tears are the tears we express when we are feeling the loneliness, heartache, heartbreak, sadness, sorrow, or grief of life. The pain behind these tears is not from how we are treating ourselves, but from the painful events of life – the loneliness and heartbreak of childhood abuse, of the loss of a loved one, the loneliness and heartache of being at the other end of another’s meanness, the fear and grief over the loss of a job or loss of financial security, the heartbreak and grief of shattered dreams, the sorrow of seeing others’ suffering or seeing peoples’ unlovingness toward each other, and so on.
Authentic tears come from an open heart. When you are in the presence of someone who is in authentic pain, you generally feel moved to comfort them. If your own heart is open, you will likely feel their pain within you as you empathize with their feelings, and tears might come to your eyes.
It is vitally important to be able to express your authentic pain. When you put a lid on your authentic pain, the pain has to go somewhere, and it often goes into the muscles of your body, causing things like neck and back pain. The repression of authentic pain can cause so much stress in the body that your immune system is suppressed, which can eventually contribute to illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
Authentic pain and true joy exist in the same place within your heart. When you put a lid on authentic pain, you also put a lid on authentic joy. If your life feels somewhat colorless, consider learning how to open to your authentic pain and you will discover your laughter and joy.