Why Cant I Cry?


“We know that crying is a good and natural thing. We know that crying isn’t a weakness, but a kind of strength. Still, the weeping rips us root by tangled root from the earth, and we crash like fallen trees when we cry.” Shantaram: A Novel

I can’t cry. I want to be able to, sometimes. Not now – but this has been bothering me for a long time.

Is this emotional resilience a good thing? Does it serve me or does it mean that I’m failing to experience the full spectrum of human emotions? I work hard to have empathy for myself and others. I have conquered, and I embrace the typical spectrum of human emotions including love, anger, joy, and contentment but the last bastion for me is actually crying, and I can’t do it and haven’t been able to for a long time. Sadness I can do. I don’t do it often, in fact I can’t remember the last time I was sad. Maybe it’s because I just don’t care what people think. Most people seem to be sad or are crying because of external factors. I choose not to be affected by external factors.

When I see pain in others or sadness I feel moved, concerned and want to reach out and make it better, particularly with woman – we do that as men. Women don’t want us to make it better though they want us to listen, be supportive and experience the moment with them in all its glory.

I believe that everything we experience in life is beautiful – whether it be, joy, pain, sadness, happiness or just our default daily state – you know, how you feel most days as you move through life and not much happens apart from the ordinary. The ordinary I believe is beautiful.

I have empathy for my feelings of sadness but I can’t seem to fully embrace them and actually cry. I’m not sad at the moment, nor do I currently feel like crying. I haven’t for a long time. I think there is a part of me that chooses not to allow myself to experience negative emotions because there is a part of me that believes they don’t serve me and help me achieve my goals in life – that’s because I’m an eternal optimist, a glass half full guy, I see the good in people, believe anything is possible, etc. Is it because I live this that I limit my ability to truly experience the negative – not that sadness is a negative – we just choose to classify it as a negative typically.

So for now my focus is on embracing sadness, sitting with it. Feeling it and hopefully crying sometime soon.

21/04/2012 Update.  I cried. It was amazing. 

Why? Because I watched this.


2 responses to “Why Cant I Cry?

  1. I don’t know that I necessarily agree that the inability to cry is an indication of an inability to empathise. (I wonder whether your thoughts have changed in any way since your Vipassana retreat?) I’ve observed that crying is usually tied up with self (or more correctly, self pity) – I’ve broken my ankle (cry), my mother dies (cry), my partner leaves me (cry) – an inarticulate expression of hurt similar to that of a baby. If it can help (without giving us an opportunity to wallow in self pity) assuage grief or sadness, or to help us better express our compassion, that’s fine, but from my experience (of life so far) I don’t believe it’s an activity we need cultivate. 🙂

  2. I agree with you @The Wanderlust Gene – my inability to cry does not mean I cant empathise. I now realise I am and have been for some time capable of simply observing sensations. I believe that crying isn’t resourceful and like you is an activity that doesn’t need to be cultivated. Having said that though when I chose to cry recently it felt good! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

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