Twice this week, I’ve “made” my clients cry. One man was recalling his childhood struggle to speak out. A female client was trying to talk about cancer. They were both primed to cry, and at the moment when they might have pulled back, I urged them forward, into tears.
I hate feeling vulnerable, and hate experiencing raw emotional pain; so why would I push that on my clients?
Because sometimes your feelings — in the words of an old gospel song — are “so high you can’t go over them, go low you can’t go under them, so wide you can’t go around them.” When that’s the case, you must go through (experience) the feelings before you can move on to accomplishing your goal.
Mental Barriers Are Real — But Not Impermeable
We all “hit the wall” in some areas of our lives. Many of us get stuck in power struggles with a friend, child, or partner. Others struggle with internal enemies: procrastination, or addiction, or fears that we know are irrational but can’t seem to shake.
As an example, I’ve been losing, then re-gaining, then losing, then re-gaining 15 pounds for 4 years now. Clearly this routine isn’t about the mechanics of losing weight (eat less, move more), which I can implement just fine, thank you very much. It’s a barrier that “lets me” run fast, but stay in the same comfortable place.
For lots of people, public speaking magnifies the mental barriers we’ve already built. If we’re feeling like imposters, or afraid that we’re unattractive, or focused on our own mortality, is there anything less appealing than the thought of standing “naked” before a group of people that we’re sure can see right through our defenses?
And that’s where, occasionally, tears come in.
Tears Can Be Cleansing
Just as water can wear away stone, tears can sometimes crack the mental barriers that are holding us back.
Sometimes they can even wash away the past.
So go ahead and cry sometimes when the going just seems too damned tough.
The chances are good that you’ll feel better; and, even better, that you’ll move forward.