Have you noticed how often children cry? They do it all the time, and they can be bawling their eyes out one minute, and laughing merrily the next. For children, crying is a natural reaction to any emotionally charged situation, but as adults we learn to hold in the tears, and I think we can damage ourselves as a result.

Crying is good for you; it’s a great way to let out all sorts of emotions and it can really calm you down. But it’s not always that easy. We can’t just burst into tears in the middle of the supermarket (although I have actually done that; it’s not something I ever wish to repeat!) We find it hard crying in front of others, and even if we’re with someone who cares about us it can still feel wrong and embarrassing, and we tend to find ourselves apologising for our tears.

It’s even more complicated if our emotions were also suppressed as children. If we were ridiculed for crying as youngsters, or told that crying was an unacceptable behaviour, then as adults we can still carry those feelings of shame with us. But we can, and should, retrain ourselves. We should teach ourselves how to cry and give ourselves permission to use crying as a way of releasing our emotions.

You know when you need to cry. You can feel it building up inside, and the longer you hold it back the more fragile you become. Until eventually even the smallest thing can set you off. You may not even know why you need to cry, and that can make you feel silly. But if we remember that we’re emotional creatures, and we all have to deal with a number of emotionally challenging events on a daily basis, it’s hardly surprising that they demand to be set free occasionally.

Everyone should give themselves crying time. Ideally, we should all be able to cry whenever we please, but in reality that’s not practical. So if you know you’re starting to feel fragile, then set aside some time for a good cry. You could choose to cry with someone who cares about you, but I think it can be more beneficial to cry alone at times. That way you don’t need to worry about any noise you make, or the fact your nose is running! More importantly you won’t feel the need to apologise, as apologising will invalidate your feelings at a time when you should be embracing them.

So make yourself comfortable, get the tissues ready and then allow yourself to really feel and let it all out. If you’re unsure why you want to cry, or you’re still learning how to cry, then listening to emotional music, watching a sad film, or even thinking about something sad can all help.

Afterwards, take care of yourself. You’ll likely feel a lot calmer, but also tired and drained, so do something relaxing for a while such as having a hot bath. Or if you need to perk up so you can get on with your day, have a shower or get some fresh air.

Finally, perhaps you could try a good crying session next time you feel the urge to self-injure. It might just help enough to enable you to hurt yourself less; and in time may even be able to replace some of your self-injury.

Photo credit axlotl

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