Yesterday, I found myself apologizing for expressing an emotion.
I was in a high-stress situation, in a private room with a person who was there to listen, and it was a perfectly acceptable moment to have a feeling, culturally speaking.
Tears were welling up in my eyes and my body refused to keep them inside. It was as necessary to feel those feelings as it was to breathe.
And yet, there I was, apologizing for crying.
Even after years of coaching others to help them allow their emotions to exist.
Then, this morning, I read an article about a holocaust survivor who, while giving a talk about the holocaust and her experience, became emotional. In her talk, she, too, apologized for “being emotional.”
Here’s the thing, folks. Of all the humans who should be allowed to cry, wail, scream, yell, or do whatever they need at any moment, a holocaust survivor would be first on the list.
Seriously. After surviving the unimaginable, unspeakable horrors of a concentration camp, one should be given a free pass to express emotions and be held by humanity with acceptance and understanding.
This apology we give for sharing emotions often feels necessary. It protects us from a terribly vulnerable experience; feeling an emotion in an empathy vacuum. It makes us feel safer, because we don’t know if the other person will be uncomfortable, will not know what to do or say, or won’t hear us.
This is the culture we live in, and I sometimes find it untenable. Why should we have to pretend we’re fine when we’re not fine? Why is it seen as weak to have emotions and strong to “suck it up” and appear fine?
In reality, it’s exactly the opposite. It takes strength to face and feel discomfort. It takes strength to be open. It takes strength to trust your body’s process and let the tears flow.
Emotions are beautiful, powerful energies that flow naturally within us. Empathy is the safe container that holds the space for those energies to exist.
If we let ourselves feel what we feel and are able to be present with others when they feel, too, an amazing connection is born. It’s a connection to spirit, to our bodies, to each other, and to the wisdom that emotions bring with them.
Today, I hope you can feel whatever you need to feel, and that you can give yourself the empathy you require in the moment, even if no one around you is doing so. Sometimes, that’s the best we can do.
Yesterday, the person I was with validated my tears and said kind, understanding words. For that, I am grateful, because it’s not always the case. And from now on, I’m not going to apologize for tears, even if the old habit tries to sneak its way back in. Want to join me?