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Expat reality – the big ugly cry

Some of you might know what I mean straight away and others might feel a bit confused. Many people, especially expats, will come across those times when it’s all piled up. The move is not going to plan, you miss your family, the weather is crap and you can’t take another thing going wrong. So you sit down and do that big ugly cry where tears blend with snot, gasps for air and ugly regrets. Why did this happen and how come I deserve to suffer through this?

I often come across people who think it’s almost like two strict camps where you’re either a crier who cries for everything (you’re feeling happy, sad, angry, overwhelmed, upset and anything else you can think of) or you’re not a crier at all. I’ve never believed this to be true and let’s chat about why.

How we feel about something is determined about a lot of things, such as previous experiences, beliefs around what something means and how people behave around us as certain things happen. Negative feelings stored in the body can actually cause a lot of physical and emotional problems, so we all need to release them in some way in order to move on to the next way of feeling (moving from sad/upset/angry to relieved/excited/happy for example). Ironically in life’s relationships (both romantic and friendship) opposites often unconsciously tend to attract and you might find yourself close to a person that rarely or never cries, even if you might do so more often.

As expats and travellers there is no doubt things can get very emotional from time to time and it’s important to find a way of releasing emotion in a way that is suitable. Positive emotion can actually be quite hard to express if people around you are feeling sad or upset, so be a bit tactful to express this in a slightly scaled down (but still happy) way.

So we all agree that emotional release is desired and even necessary? Good! Now let’s talk about crying, what it does and how to deal with it.

  1. The first type of crier is ironically the person who never cries. If there are any fans out there of the TV series Friends you might recall the episode where Chandler never cries. This person is not emotionless, they simply have other ways of releasing emotion which does not involve crying. They might rationalise, think things over, do exercise or talk to themselves or others instead. As long as they have a healthy and resourceful way of releasing emotions, do not judge them! Just because they don’t cry does not mean they don’t care. If this person eventually does cry (unlikely, but possible) you might feel really shocked and not sure what to do. Just be there for them as you would with anyone else who is sad and emotional.
  2. The person who predictably cries when things hit boiling point. This person would always be a trooper and soldier on even in challenging times until they get to the metaphorical cliff and can’t go any further. If you’ve got this person around you, they would be a strong shoulder to lean on and they’ll keep powering through until they run out of steam and get tired of being the strong one. For expats I often find that this person is the driver of the move, but if they hit too many roadblocks they simply must release the build up of emotion before they can even think of looking for the bridge across to the other side. Crying should never be avoided (it’s an outlet of emotion, nothing else), yet it can be very useful to encourage this person to slow down and share before they get to that difficult point.
  3. The person who cries for almost anything. This is the person who will get tears in their eyes in moments of sadness, joy, grief, pride and pretty much anything else that triggers a strong emotion. The volume of tears will depend on the mood and intensity of the emotions. There is a resourceful side to this type of crier, which is the ability to show emotion and share it in a way that does not make people around them too uncomfortable. There is also the un-resourceful side which would be the person who holds other people ‘hostage’ by crying, overreacting or completely taking over the space so others can’t (or feel they are not welcome to) express how they feel.

To cry or not to cry is not a male/female thing at all, yet I’ve seen time and time again how expat women drive their man away because he does not cry with her and she makes this mean that he does not care about her or that stressful thing that just happened. I trust that today’s blog helps you understand that this is not the case at all. He cares, he just tends to process it in a completely different way.

For anyone wondering – I’m a massive crier myself and I’ll cry tears of joy, anger or sadness regularly, but I reserve my big ugly cry for the very difficult things in life. It does not have anything at all to do with how I tackle things in life, but rather how I release positive and negative emotion build up from my system.

Now I’m curious (if you dare to share!) – how do you feel about crying and which of these would apply to you?

PS: Not that it teaches you more about crying, but if you’re moving overseas now or at some point in the future you will want to check out my free video series here!