Monday, January 25, 2010

The Calm After the Storm

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Sometimes there's nothing better than a deep and cleansing cry. It can shake things up and clear out all of that stuff that each of us needlessly carries around.

As adults, many of us don't give ourselves permission to cry.

Somewhere along the line the message was made known that crying is weak and “for babies.” This is especially the case for boys and men. But girls and women also receive similar messages.

We are subtly or overtly told that there is no room for crying in a successful, got-it-all-together kind of life.

Throughout my life I've been a “crier.”

When I was a young girl, I'd frequently cry and my mom would ask me “Amy, why are you crying?” My tearful response would often be, “I don't know.” Now that I know what I know about my past, I can guess about what the reasons might have been some of the time.

What I want to focus on here, however, is the wonderful release that can come after the tumult of a deep cry. I encourage each and every one of us to welcome this kind of crying when it arises.

To me, it is truly a calm after the storm.

In those moments after a deep cry, it's as if the world is somehow clearer and brighter and I am lighter inside. I feel cleaned out in many respects.

Yes, that difficulty or situation that led me to cry is possibly still unresolved, but somehow it all seems a little easier to face.

I believe that a deep, cleansing cry can be extremely helpful when we become stuck. It's too easy to settle in to a sense of dissatisfaction or powerlessness. We can become dull and begin to move (or not move) through life in a sort of robotic mode.

Allow the storm
This is why the upheaval-- that may be unpleasant and even unwanted-- can be so vital.

Even if you aren't a “crier,” let yourself feel whatever you are feeling. I cannot stress enough how important this is.

Too often, fear, anger, grief or other difficult emotions come up and we push them back down inside. “Who has time to get into all of that anyway?” your over-scheduled, full-to-the-brim mind might argue.

Even if you feel like you have the time, you might not want to experience the pain that these emotions threaten to bring with them. It might seem that you will lose yourself in the chasm of challenging feelings if you open the door to them.

I've certainly been there.

In just about every case, however, these feelings seep through anyway. You simply cannot hold at bay your sadness, fears, anger and grief. This can only intensify those difficult emotions and potentially manifest as stress and health problems (if they haven't already).

When you feel out of sorts, off your game or unhappy in some way, create the time and give yourself the space to explore your emotions.

I don't necessarily advise you to try to figure it all out from a thinking perspective. Instead, take a deep breath, open up to yourself and just let whatever is inside come out. You might use music, writing, dancing or another means to help yourself open up.

It is almost always the case that the storm within will not be more than you can handle. If it feels like too much or you are concerned that you will hurt yourself or another person, please seek help from a professional.

Appreciate the storm and the calm
As painful as it is for me to feel the feelings that usually accompany a deep cry, I can truly appreciate them and the whole process. My fears, anger and grief are a part of my human experience at this moment.

I can remind myself that I may not feel this way next month, next week or even tomorrow. And the sooner I allow the storm to move through me, the sooner I can open up to the release and the calm.

Of course, this build-up of difficult emotions and eventual intense release is not the progression that has to happen and it is not what happens every time I face a challenge.

There are occasions when I recognize that I am feeling a bit irritable, I explore what's going on, make possible changes, communicate with others involved and experience a release without any big storm.

It is not necessary to wait for the intensity to escalate to put into motion a clearing out and subsequent calm.

We can stay tuned in to how we each feel and give ourselves permission to explore beneath the surface of “feeling down” or “crabby” and then let whatever needs to come up and out do so.

It might be a gentle unfolding of emotion tied with realization and perhaps new (or renewed) commitments to how you want to live your life.

It might also be more tumultuous, filled with plenty of tears and other expressions of your feelings.

In both cases-- and those in between-- when you stop pushing down your feelings and, instead, allow it all to flow, you can enjoy a clearer, calmer and often happier life.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great post. Great blog. It's always nice to meet like-minded people.

  3. Thank you! I enjoyed discovering your blog just now too. It's beautiful. I feel a renewed sense of calm just visiting it.