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Her candid request showed up in the subject line:
“Cheri, I need some tips on how to stop crying so much.”
I get it.
I’m a “waterworks” kinda gal myself.
So I made this short video in which I share 2 tips for handling tears as an HSP:
I am a waterworks girl myself. And so for a very long time, I had unhealthy coping mechanisms to keep myself from actually crying that had extremely unhealthy impacts on my body and on my relationships, on my emotional life and on my spiritual life.
Some notable occasions of when I start to cry: when I’m confronting someone I’m mad with, or when having heated conversations or talking about something important, or when I’m just stressed out.
This usually results in my family getting really angry and frustrated with me. And they usually stay mad for a while. It irritates them so much. And they say it’s so frustrating talking to me, even though I’ve told them repeatedly that I can’t help when the tears spring up, even though I really, really do try.
I just don’t know what to do anymore, Cheri. I’m at my wit’s end. This has gone on for all my life, and I just don’t know how to cope with it anymore.
Why can’t I maintain better control over my tears? Why can’t I be like other people who aren’t nearly so emotional? Do you think that God gets just as frustrated with me?
I wish I could control my tears so that it doesn’t bother my family. But I just don’t know how.
Do you have any tips at all? I could really use the help.
So I’m going to give just a few, what I’m hoping will be helpful, pieces of insight and then a question and an invitation. And all of this is no pressure, okay? It’s zero pressure. Because the last thing on earth an HSP needs is more pressure. In fact, that’s one of the reasons that tears come, is because we are feeling a buildup of pressure and our body has a natural pressure release mechanism.
“Do you think God gets just as frustrated with me?”
So first of all, I want to respond to the part where you said, “Do you think God gets just as frustrated with me?”
And my answer is no. Absolutely not.
He created you.
He wired you to be highly sensitive.
I don’t think he intended necessarily for us to be on such a hostile planet.
We are tender-hearted women in a thick skinned world.
And that part I believe is result of sin but He absolutely is not frustrated or disappointed with you.
“Why can’t I maintained better control over my tears?”
You asked, “Why can’t I maintained better control over my tears?” Here’s the short answer I’ll give you. Many people think tears are evidence of over-emotionality.
One of the truths about being a highly sensitive person: with the high sensitivity, the sensory processing sensitivity is actually what’s happening is that your body is receiving so much external stimuli, and then creating so much internal stimuli.
(The understanding of internal stimuli is newer to me.)
But it is a response. It is your body’s response to overstimulation.
Now, I’m not saying that crying is never as a result of just emotion, but the place we want to start is paying attention to our bodies and meeting our body’s needs to lower and dial down the stimulation.
And so sometimes it’ll be things like textures. Sometimes it’ll be things like sound, sometimes it’ll be things like the amount of scent going on.
And then of course, if you’re going to be in a situation where there’s conflict or anger or disagreement, part of it is, instead of focusing on the tears, which are the outward expression, starting with focusing on really listening to your brain and to your body, and its responses to the external stimuli.
And what kind of internal stimuli are you actually producing as a result of the escalation of the situation and the tension.
Tip #1: Documentation
So my number one recommendation, it’s not going to feel like a solution, my number one recommendation is going to be to keep a journal.
Break it down into the five senses, and just start really noticing – like, for me, I start hearing a buzzing in my ears, when I’m starting to feel like a situation is escalating, I get tightness between my eyes like that starts feeling like it’s really tense. I can feel it in my gut, in my stomach, it starts feeling like it’s twisting.
And of course, all of those make things, they signal that things aren’t going well. But then they also make things worse, because these are all physical reactions.
So even if you can’t do anything about them, even if you can’t change a thing, just documenting and being aware of them, and then maybe even rating them on a scale of one to 10.
So like, physically, what are you noticing physically. I just described that I feel the skin tightening between my eyes. So if you were to jot that down, even the act of writing that down is going to move you from your limbic system to the prefrontal cortex.
That’s one of the reasons that when we’re under stress, they say to notice three things you can see and two things you can hear and one thing that you can touch, because they’re trying to get us back into that prefrontal cortex.
There’s nothing wrong with our bodies having reactions. It’s meaningful to learn to work with our bodies.
Our bodies go into these reactions because they feel like we haven’t listened to them and we haven’t taken good care of them for so long that they have to go into these into these highly reactive states.
Tip #2: Self-Compassion
So the other thing I’m going to recommend, or just tell you that I’ve chosen to do, is I’ve chosen to take a very compassionate perspective towards my tears.
My tears are my friends.
And other people having a problem with my tears is their problem, not mine. I’ve quit apologizing for them.
I’ve quit expecting anything out of them.
Like, we recently had fires in California and my dearest friend Kathi, there was a couple of days where we were positive her house had completely burned down – I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it – as well as a summer camp that I loved.
And one morning, I was sitting in my chair just bawling, because for me, fires represented this, the destructive power of evil in the world. And my husband came to say goodbye, he did not know what to do with me, and he just left.
And I used to feel so hurt by that. I’m now at the point where I’m like, he needs to do him, I need to do me. And me needed to cry that day. Like I cried and cried, and then cried some more.
The harder I used to try to not cry, the more headaches I would get, the more stomachaches I would get, the more negative coping mechanisms I would go towards, and mine tend to be around food, and so the more I would rely on food to numb what was actually going on in my body. And that’s bad because my body needs food. So it was using the wrong kinds of food. Like, for me, it’s lots of crunchy food or lots of sweet food because I want sweetness and the crunchy is helps me express my anger.
The One Who Can Handle Your Tears
And so I really just started to really take Jesus up on an invitation to come weep at his feet.
I think of the woman who came and washed his feet with her tears and poured the perfume over him and how gentle He was with her and how he received her gift of both the perfume and her tears.
And just realizing that, you know, Jesus is the one who can handle our tears, He created us this way, God created us this way. So He’s not shocked or horrified or frustrated by them.
I would start with documenting what are the physical things going on for you, without even trying to stop the tears, just notice, notice, notice, notice notice. And then when the tears are coming, to have a place that you can go where you can just kind of imagine yourself curling up with Jesus, telling Him what’s going on, turning to him instead of humans.
Because we can’t change them, we can’t fix them. There may be things that you could do later on. But for now, I’m just gonna suggest leaving them completely out of the picture.
Growing Sensitive & Strong
And then I also want to let you know that we cover this sort of thing in the group coaching program that I do.
It’s called “Growing Sensitive and Strong.” And I’ll be offering that again right before the holidays, because the holidays are a time when those of us who are waterworks girls, that we can cry our way through the holidays.
So if you’d be interested in any information in that, let me know. It is the paid program. And I know for some people that’s not an option, not pushing it.
Just it is so important to understand the brain chemistry and the bodily connection to our emotions, because the tears are a sign of both bodily reactivity and emotions, but too often we as HSPs get called “so emotional.” And there are so many skills we can learn around the bodily reactivity part of things.
You have me even more excited about writing the article now, I’m like, ‘Wow, I do have more to say about this than I thought.’
So. And I feel very strongly about it.
Tears are okay.
Tears are created by God for so many cleansing purposes.
And I get so upset when people insist that we should be “rational” and not “emotional”.
There’s so much they don’t understand.
Are you seeking to better understand how God wired you as a Highly Sensitive Person? Enrollment opens soon for the Growing Sensitive & Strong group coaching program Fall session.
If you’d like to be the first to receive details, simply email me at [email protected] and say, “Tell me more”.