Saturday, September 6, 2008

Laugh or Cry?

In follow up to the previous posts on emotions, I thought it would be fitting to discuss the outcome of emotions....or at least two possible ways that one can express what they feel.

The first is laughter. I personally use laughter or at least try to find something at which I can laugh, whether I am in the midst of joy or sadness every day of my life. Of course, when it is a joyful experience, the laughter comes quickly, easily and abundantly. When in the midst of sadness, it may be more of a challenge to find a reason to laugh, but I believe it is therapeutic to be able to tap into laughter, even in some situations that one wouldn't expect it. Here's an example: When my Dad passed away, my brother and I took my Mom to the funeral home to make all of the arrangements. It was certainly a sad time, yet my Mom, brother and I turned to laughter to make the experience easier to move through. When the funeral director asked my Mom for a suit for my Dad, she quickly responded, "I will give you for both days of the viewing....he wouldn't be caught dead in the same suit two days in a row". The three of us shared a really sweet moment of humor at a very sad time and I understand for some reading this, it may seem disrespectful, but in this case it was not. My Dad was an amateur comedian, and this quip would have been one that would have gotten a chuckle. For us the laughter was a release. It made the job before us easier to manage. It actually felt like a bit of a tribute to the spirit of my Dad.

As for crying....this show of emotion seems to be more difficult for most people.....especially men. I personally am touched beyond words when I am a witness to tears. It takes courage to express feelings and unfortunately, many people (especially men in my opinion) will tend to hold back, perhaps believing they will be perceived as weak if they cry. In my estimation, it is the opposite. I see courage when tears are openly shed. Emotions and their by-products are not to be feared. They are not to be hidden. They are to be expressed. Somehow, many people have put corks on their tear ducts finding it very difficult to let the liquid emotion flow out. Perhaps it is the fear of being judged that keeps the walls of the damn up.

My experience of life for the most part, includes more laughter than tears, but I openly express both depending on what I am feeling in the moment. I allow myself to be moved by the words, actions and intentions of other people. Whether I am watching a movie, listening to a client, or friend, or leading a workshop, I am always touched by the show of emotion. This is true for tears of joy or tears of sadness. I also give myself permission to show that I have been touched.

So what can we do about using laughter or tears to better serve help keep us emotionally healthy? It's simple, allow yourself to express what is within....whatever it may be. Resisting it does not make it go away. Expressing it will help move you through whatever you're feeling and find your way back to even ground. So, to practice....allow yourself to let go and express what you're feeling with someone you love and trust. When you feel how good it feels to fully express the emotion, you may want to make it a habit.

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