I’ll admit it. I cry fairly easily. It’s the bane of my existence — it causes all sorts of awkward situations and can be kind of embarrassing. (Sometimes I’d rather that the people around me don’t know I’m uncomfortable or need support, especially if I’m in a professional setting or public.)
At this point in my life, I have a ton of tricks to prevent myself from crying. I am ace at doing math quickly in my head to distract myself and stem the flow of tears.
But sometimes crying can’t be helped. And unfortunately, sometimes the things that people say when they see you’re about to cry makes the situation even worse. Here are a few common ones.
It took me a long time to realize it, but crying is not a form of weakness. Instead, it’s a show of strength. It’s showing to another human being that you could use some support. And that takes courage.
Plus, by the time someone cries, they’ve usually been carrying a large burden for a while. And it’s entirely sensible — and healthy — for them to set down that load and let the tears flow.
Don’t be that jerk that tells them not to.
Or tells them why they shouldn’t be upset or that they’re overreacting.
This is such a common thing for people to do when you’re about to cry. They ask what’s wrong. And it’s well meaning, I think. If someone who cares about us knows what’s wrong, then perhaps they can help us. Perhaps they can ease our pain.
But I’ve found that this well-meaning question has never actually helped me when I’m the one who is about to cry. For starters, when I’m about to cry, I have a hard time saying anything. My epiglottis swells — I get literally choked up.
Plus, when I talk about what’s bothering me — especially when I’m already emotionally flooding (and I am when I’m about to cry) — it doesn’t unburden me. It actually makes the feeling more intense. It makes it worse.
Trust me… I don’t need you to ask me what’s wrong when I’m about to cry. If I want to tell you, I’ll tell you. Usually when I’m recovered physically from feeling like I’m going to cry. Which can take a second.
Which takes me to the last thing I really don’t like to hear when I’m about to cry.
Anything, Really — Other than Validation
Honestly, when I’m about to cry, I’m not really in the mood for a conversation. There are tons of things I’m really not in the mood to hear.
Aside from validation or basic comfort– perhaps my partner saying “I love you,” “awww,” or “oh honey” in a tender voice, maybe being told that I’ve valued or safe, there’s not a lot that’s wanted when I hit one of those emotional patches.
Frankly, silence and a kind look will often do the best work. Or a hug — if we have that sort of relationship.