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Photo by Albert Cook.

Don’t cry.

Don’t cry, says a voice in our heads, the recording that plays through our mind that implores us not to cry when we feel a swell of emotion, be it sadness or joy. We have been conditioned that showing these emotions is not good somehow, perhaps a sign of weakness.

For me, in better moments when I rise above the programmed recordings in my mind, I see crying as a courageous expression of an open heart and an invitation to follow the taught cord of resonant feeling––beginning in our throat or stomach––toward the longing of the soul.

Last night my partner and I decided to watch The Christmas Bunny. From the very beginning, when an abandoned baby lop was mistakenly shot with a BB gun, it pulled at the longings, memories and desires of my own soul. Add a silent child in foster care going into her umpteenth placement family, and the story had all the pieces needed to open my heart.

Besides pulling at the rabbit-lover in me––I used to volunteer for a rabbit rescue organization––this story touched and reminded me of the part of myself that wants to be unconditionally loved when I don’t feel lovable, the part that wants to be taken care of when I don’t feel deserving of care and the part that longs for hope when I have lost all hope. What a gift this movie was! What a gift to open into these feelings and be reminded that I am lovable, I am deserving of care, and that there is, and always will be, hope.

Opening to our emotions is vitally important, even though we may be feeling embarrassed or even angry for expressing them. Allowing ourselves to feel and experience an emotion gives us greater access to all of our emotions, while closing ourselves to one emotion has been show to restrict our ability to access all emotions, even “healthy” ones, such as joy and elevation. Tears have also been shown to contain healthy chemicals that are different from normal fluids generated by the eye to lubricate it or protect it from irritants.

The next time you feel tightness in your body that leads to tears, make the choice to follow the feeling and be open to what your body is saying. It just might surprise you.

Scott Youmans is an experienced facilitator with an MA in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College. He’s a computer programmer, a dedicated partner, and a New Warrior. He lives in Philadelphia. Follow Scott Youmans at his ‘This Energetic Man’ blog.

– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.