I remember this very clearly. I was in 2nd grade and we had sports day in school. Just a few days before that, we had our athletics trials and I had given my trials in 50 meter running. I realized during the trial that I could indeed run very fast. I beat everyone in the trial. Everyone, including our PT Sir was very impressed with me and I was seen as the ‘Flying Wonder’ of my school. At least the primary section. Then came the actual day – The most important Sports Day. All parents, siblings and teachers were watching the track and field event. My parents were there too. Thank god our school was a boys school, because I would have included my crush in this list as well. Yes, I had one in second grade. Someone who stayed 4 blocks away from my house. But we’ll get to that point later. The announcement came and the 50 meter race boys were standing near the start line ready to run the most important race of our life; life defined up to the 2nd grade. I was all ready to win this 50 meter race with a clear margin of 100 meters. And I really wanted my mother to see this. So, I looked where my mother was sitting. There she was, looking at me with a hopeful expression. And then she suddenly waved to me. I waved back. But she waved even faster. I didn’t understand what she was trying to say. Then I decided to concentrate on the race and looked at the track. Alas! I was at the starting point and all others were past the finishing point and all of them had beaten me with a clear margin of 50 meters. I had missed hearing the ‘clap’ when the race started. That’s what my mother was waving at me for, to get my butt moving. This was the first heart-break of my life. Not to mention, the laughing stalk I had become after that. Naturally, there was a big meltdown. I went into my mother’s arms and was crying my heart out. Then came the PT teacher and said to me, “Hey, why are you crying? You are acting like a baby. Stop crying”. Another teacher came and said, “Don’t cry like a girl”. I didn’t think much about those statements at that time. But today I wonder, what the hell was that supposed to mean? Aren’t boys allowed to cry? And above all, are we labeling women as ‘cry-babies’? I know, in some families crying is made taboo right from childhood because apparently it is a sign of weakness. It is not! Emotions are action signals which direct you to act wherever and whenever it is needed. So, don’t resist emotions especially the negative ones. Be their friend and ask them, what needs to be done. Then, just do it!
I remember this statement by the famous Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, “Mard ko dard nahi hota”. Translated, “Men don’t feel the pain”. I’ll tell you, that statement has resulted in creating devastating beliefs in men, that they are supposed to be tough and crying is a sign of a weakness. No, it is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you have acknowledged to yourself what you feel. You are willing to let the negativity out of your system through crying. You have great breakthroughs when you express yourself and let it all out. The meltdown is very important, especially from your health stand-point. After all these years, looking at that incident, I realized that kids are very good at expressing themselves. Even if that expression is through crying. And when they are done with the thunderstorm, there is sunshine all over their face.
I’m sure you’ve realized, that over time as we grew up, we lost the ability to cry and let it all out. Or in other words, we haven’t lost the ability, we have developed another compulsive ability to put a strong lid on the Volcano opening. That meltdown is extremely necessary, especially when it comes to being and staying healthy. People who don’t cry or resist crying have a tendency of being hypertensive, have sleep issues, have diet issues, have anxiety issues and all this along with some more chronic ailments could result in early death. Your heart is directly affected if you believe in suppressing emotions inside you. We’ve all heard of laughing therapy, which is good for the mind and body. Well, I am not sure if anyone has thought of and has crying therapy interventions as well. Well, then I guess it is the therapists and counsellors who would be running it then. I was shocked to hear one story and it is from my city Pune. This was covered by the print media as well a few years ago. Apparently, in Pune there is an area which is known to have brothels. I don’t know who thought of conducting any kind of research there but one of the findings they published was, around 30% of the men who go there, actually don’t go for sex. Well, then what do they do? It turns out, they just go and talk. Talk? That’s it? And they pay for it. One of the ‘experts’ had mentioned in that column in the newspaper that the brothels charge more for just talking. Why do they charge extra just for talking? Because that need of being heard is of prime importance for those men, even more important than sex. Brothels probably have that figured out and are charging ‘luxury service charge’. Now, you do realize that these men have their own homes where they can talk. Turns out no one is listening to them. So, the brothels are actually equipped to provide this service. These men will talk, laugh and cry as well. Mostly cry! They will get their mind serviced and come out there rejuvenated. Sounds close to servicing a car. The analogy or metaphor actually fits you know. I think, these men have found an outlet for themselves to express. Even if the channel is a little unusual, I would still imagine that these men are going to die due to some reason but definitely will not die because of depression. Out of those 30% men who go to just talk, how many of them would actually cry as well while talking? Any guesses on that? I know you are wondering if this was mentioned in the research. Well, it wasn’t. My guess is around 90% for sure. I guess you would have a similar figure. The women in these brothels are natural counselors, coaches, mentors, NLP Practitioners and Emotional Intelligence Professionals. The fact that I train people to become Coaches, Mentors, NLP Practitioners, Emotional Intelligence Professionals, also means that I am curious in terms of how these women are doing that job. I don’t intend to go there to see how they exactly do this and model them. But I do have a curious mind of their operational strategy to give that ‘Aha’ moment to men who visit them. I might just give them an honorary recognition and a certificate because they are natural Breakthrough Masters.
But then coming to our point of ‘It is okay to cry’, first of all what message does the brothel story gives us. The message is, people want to express themselves and people want to be heard. God has given us two ears and one mouth. That itself has its own meaning. But we don’t listen enough. We listen to reply rather than listening to understand. And because, in general, the LQ (listening quotient) and UQ (understanding quotient) has reduced in today’s world, the freedom to meltdown or cry is seriously affected. Most of us don’t have people around us, in front of who we could get our guard down and cry. Having said that, it is okay to cry. In fact, you must cry and I would say on regular basis.
Now, remember one thing. Crying is a way of expression. People express in various different ways like a happy gesture, love gesture, anger etc. It is quite possible that some people may not need crying to be mentally rejuvenated after some overwhelming situations. The world is not a perfect place. Not for you, not for me, not for anyone. As a result, we don’t get the expected results from the efforts we put in any area of life, be it professional life, personal life, relationships, ambitions etc. So, what happens when your efforts don’t yield the right result. You feel bad, because your core belief of being rewarded for the efforts has been violated. Hence you feel bad. Now, I am not saying that everyone will cry at very occasion of failed effort. You may just frown. You may just swear. And you may be done for that time. But practically, a series of disappointments have their own build-up and if I can put this metaphorically, the steam will put a lot of pressure on the insides of the boiler. It has to be released. Otherwise you might just end up having a pimple on your face. Simple and non-scary as it may sound to most people, but for the models in fashion industry I am sure it is a terrifying concept. Well, by pimple I mean any kind of internal harm which can be caused if this negative energy is not released. A meltdown is definitely one of the ways. Some people say to me, it is so embarrassing to cry in front of others. It is not compulsory to cry in front of others. You can cry when you are by yourself. Then someone asked me, what is the point then. Ha ha! You shouldn’t cry to make a scene, should you? Crying, in that case is just for secondary gain.
By the way, only crying it out is not going to solve your problems. There has to be some action after that in order to rectify things. Remember, emotions are action signals. You need to take action/s to make your life better. I’ll end this blog with a nice real life story. So, I had a crush on this girl, not the one I had in 2nd grade as mentioned earlier 😊. This one was during my engineering days. She was actually my senior and if you ask anyone from the engineering field, they will tell you that 3rd year of engineering is when you get slaughtered with the toughest subjects. So, she was in 3rd year and I was in 2nd. I had a ‘one-way’ relationship with her for two years till then. I had devised this term (one-way relationship) at that time and I find it so appropriate and funny even today. But it turned out that she had a boy-friend who was sufficiently well hidden. But it just came out in the open one day, just the way frogs make their appearance after the first rain. The ‘rain’ in this case was when my crush had a couple of backlogs in her University semester exams. Now this dude apparently was very ambitious. He had to say some demeaning things to the girl because she had backlogs. The next thing you know, the girl is sitting in the cafeteria alone with a hopeless and helpless expression on her face. I didn’t know about what had happened, so in general I went to her, sat on the seat opposite to hers and told her a joke. This was from the movie “Hot Shots”. I said to her, “A horse goes to a bar and the bar-man asks, ‘Why such a long face’?” Damn! Wasn’t she going to kill me! But then I got the situation under control and asked about her botheration. That’s when I got to know about the frog. Boy, wasn’t I sad. But then, I had learnt in one of the Bollywood movies that ‘love’ is all about the other person’s happiness. Bwaahahaaahaa! Well, actually it is true. Then she opened up and I offered her a cup of coffee and two open empathetic ears. After she finished the coffee, we went to a bar to have beer. After finishing 4 bottles each, the grand meltdown happened. After 2 hours of cafeteria intervention and 4 hours of beer intervention, the girl had a 36 min weeping intervention. At that time, I was so drunk that I was imagining she was weeping beer out of her eyes and felt like collecting the drops in my glass before they are wasted. I resisted the temptation. In the 37th min, the clouds cleared up and she said she was feeling much better after expressing all that. She said she doesn’t like crying because she is a strong person. But she felt good to let her guard down in front of me. That felt like warm rose water falling on my ears. As a part of reality, I know she praised me for my patient listening, which helped her feel better. As a part of the ‘beer reality’ I think she kissed me on my cheek before leaving. But as she was leaving, I made a statement to her, “You know, when people make you cry, they know you don’t like crying and they are probably making you cry precisely because of that reason. Would you let them succeed”? That was hell of a breakthrough statement for a drunken man to make. But the girl had a visible change in her expressions and physiology when she heard that. The motivation level was at another level after that. She killed it in her next exam and aced it. When I congratulated her, she credited that to the discussion we had 6 months ago. Crying it out, obviously rejuvenated her and the breakthrough statement had given her a compelling goal. I thought, I had the credibility to ask her out on Valentine’s day. Alas! The princess belonged to the frog and continued to do so after all that happened. The cafeteria then saw a new meltdown candidate, who waited for someone to tell him the horse and the bar-man joke. The good news is, the corridor leading to the cafeteria wasn’t empty.