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I’m sure I looked like a madwoman to passersby. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, sobbing uncontrollably. Thankfully, I was on the side of the freeway inside my car—a safe space to just let it all out. I just couldn’t hold it back. I had just been involved in a multi-car collision. All the frustrations from different areas of my life coupled with what had just happened flooded out. It was a kaleidoscope of emotions—anger, frustration, disappointment, stress, sadness.

I had a cathartic release right there on the side of the freeway. It helped me gain my composure so that I didn’t feel like beating the crap out of someone when I got out of my car (which is how I was first feeling). It was also a wakeup call from the universe that I wasn’t nurturing my emotional soul enough—that I had been holding on to more than I’d realized.

Big girls do cry (guys too)!

Crying does not mean you are emotionally unstable or lack a backbone. Crying actually means you are strong. Tears are a natural form of expression—just as much as laughing is—and in fact help you to release the buildup of negative emotions that you have been holding on to. In allowing yourself to cry—or to scream, yell or even punch a pillow—you are giving yourself permission to let it all out. If you bottle up your negative emotions, you are essentially creating an internal ticking time bomb, which can be dangerous to your personal health as well as hurtful to those around you.

Crying is a cathartic release.

In releasing the buildup of negative emotions through crying, tension and stress are also released. This helps to create space to investigate what’s really going on inside. Although crying may not be an actual problem solver, it affords you the opportunity to not be so overwhelmed by your emotions in order to take a deeper look at the underlying issues and identify a few action steps to work towards resolving the problem.

Crying is beautiful.

You are equipped with an expansive range of emotions, all of which are to be embraced and expressed. Crying should be no different. With crying there is happiness, grief, anger and heartache. We cry at weddings and funerals. We cry to welcome and to say goodbye. There are tears of joy and tears of sorrow. Crying is raw self-expression. What could be more beautiful?

Crying is a soul-cleanser.

The weekend after my accident, I went to a workshop that included another big cathartic release. In a room full of strangers, I allowed myself to be vulnerable—crying, screaming and yelling. I realized I had had enough of feeling like I was transgressing to a place I had fought so hard to leave behind. The darkness (frustration, anger, sadness) was starting to overtake the light (happiness, peace) I had created in my life.

I now acknowledge that I need to take better care of my emotional soul—that I don’t have to pretend to be stronger than I am at times. That’s the beauty of being human, of being vulnerable and real. It’s important to feel your feelings—every single one of them.

I’m now asking you to do the same. Next time you are feeling like too many negative emotions are bubbling below the surface and you’re about ready to explode, take some time to release—yoga, meditation, journaling, an Epsom salt bath, massage, physical workout—whatever works for you. I have found that sometimes the best medicine for my soul is to simply let the tears flow. It allows me to reboot and move forward.