Tears have the power to wound as well as heal. Tears can be used as a weapon to manipulate others. When shed in anger, fear, frustration or sadness, tears help us to heal by expressing our emotions. Crying is often seen as a sign of weakness, but it takes a strong person to embrace their feelings and express them honestly.
On the topic of tears, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Our tears and our softness are not valued much in this society, especially in the work place. In the past, women have been led to believe that we could gain indirect, manipulative power through our tears and our gentle willingness to take care of others.
Many modern women have rejected using our tears and our gentleness to get what we want. Unfortunately, this rejection of our gentler side has resulted in our trying to appear tough and aggressive and in our losing our wholeness.
We are neither all soft nor all tough. We just are.”
I learned from a young age that tears were not to be used to get what I want. My parents taught me that by refusing to give in when I cried to get my way. Crying to get what you want—whether that be a toy when you are a child or to avoid a speeding ticket as an adult—always seemed like such a cheap move to me. Manipulating others with your emotions is not a very noble and respectable way to go through life. I can understand the appeal though, as it is a way to take back the power of our emotions.
We are made to believe that showing any emotion is a sign of weakness, but sadness perhaps is worst of all. We are taught to never cry in public and certainly never at work lest we be viewed as weak, incapable, soft. Gentleness and softness are frowned upon as being weak too. Why though? Why are the qualities of being kind and nice, of caring for others, viewed in such a negative light? It takes great strength to be gentle. It takes the ability to hold yourself back, to put others before you, and it is one of the most powerful feelings when you can care for others in this way.
We are often encouraged to reject these traits in ourselves in favor of assertiveness and aggression in order to get ahead. We like to pretend otherwise, but at our core, humans are soft creatures. Tears and sadness, like any human emotion, are a perfectly natural part of our existence. They serve a purpose and are essential to our being. Everybody cries.
It is possible for us to inhabit traits and qualities which are seemingly at odds with each other. Both men and women can be strong and tough, gentle and kind. We can be hard and soft. There is a time and season for everything. We should accept ourselves and others as we are, which includes all of these varying and sometimes contradictory qualities. It includes our gentler, softer side and the occasional bout of tears.