Laughter, on the other hand, focuses us outward. Laughter expands our vision and gives us a new way of seeing our situation. Tears of sorrow focus only on one aspect of our loss: They emphasize the seriousness of the situation, bind us to our suffering, and narrow our vision. If we are overweight and cry after an eating binge, for example, we add to our suffering by feeling sorry for ourselves.
We become the central figure in our own tragedy. When we can allow some humor to be part of our pain, we are not as directly involved in our suffering. Everything seems familiar, but there is a slightly different look to the scene. Any animal confined to a small pen will eventually become agitated and restless. It will bray, kick, and try to tear down the fence. Expand the fence, and it will be content.
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In encouraging the search for humor in our losses, setbacks, upsets, disappointments, difficulties, trials, tribulations, trying times, and all that not-so-funny stuff, I am in no way minimizing the value of crying. Crying is an important part of our pain, loss, and grief. It is one of the primary ways the body relieves tension when under pressure.
We must give ourselves permission to cry. Suppressed tears can linger and continue to cause problems for a lifetime; it can be detrimental to both our physical and mental health. One psychotherapist believes that a major source of violence today is our inability to cry. Another researcher found that there is a close connection between those who rarely cry or have negative attitude about crying and such illnesses as ulcers and colitis.
Crying is important and should not be suppressed. But at some point in our upsets, in our pain, continued crying may not be the healthiest thing for us. We must begin to put what we cry about in perspective so that we can get on with out life. Tears cannot do that. Photo by Prism Productions.
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