Jordan Gray was emotionally shut off to the world for years, until he cried his way into a better relationship with himself.
A few years ago, I was emotionally shut off to the world.
Because of old emotional wounds that I didn’t have the courage to face and heal, nobody in my life really knew me.
During an especially traumatic life transition phase I decided that I was going to start owning up to the pain that was still stuck inside of me.
For the past year I’ve been on a journey to pull out as much of my emotional residue as possible in order to have more depth and connectedness in my intimate relationships.
Through my journey I’ve shone light on and healed emotional wounds that I didn’t even know that I had. Years worth of toxic shame and emotional pain lay deep beneath the surface, and this was the year that I decided to go demon-hunting.
My intention with this process was to heal as much of my buried toxic emotion as possible in order to be more authentic in my intimate relationships. My logic being “If I can muster up the courage to stare my darkest demons right in the eye then I will have the ability to conquer anything in my life.”
And I can happily say that, as we near the end of the calendar year, I have felt my way through and healed a huge chunk of the weight that was on my shoulders and my new partner is seeing me like no one has before.
Because of (mainly) social conditioning and (secondarily) biological factors, men tend to have a tougher time crying than women. This theory has never seemed to hold weight with me personally, but I do believe that most men generally have a more difficult time conjuring up their tears. I decided to write up a guide to help men go demon-hunting and cry through their old wounds, because when you feel it, you heal it.
Here are the five most effective things that I found throughout my journey to shake up a good, emotionally-releasing cry session.
1. Video Clips
Watching short, emotionally charged video clips can do wonders for your emotional processing.
Different video clips will work for you depending on what the root of your stuck emotion is based on.
For example, if your stuck emotion is tied to shame and secret-keeping, then the breakup scene from Good Will Hunting might do it for you. If you lost a loved one, then the opening scene in the Pixar film Up might do it for you. Or if you miss someone (living or deceased) then maybe watching soldiers returning home to their wives/moms/pets will do it for you.
Give YouTube a scan, pick your favourite 3-5 clips to have on a rotation, and use them to trigger your demon-hunting.
2. Sad Music
Whether it’s the lyric, the tone of the song, the timbre of the singer’s voice, or the association that you have to the music itself, music is a hugely effective way to trigger your tears (especially when you combine it with any of the other things mentioned in this list).
Have your most tear-inducing songs readily available on a playlist, or load them on to a portable device if you know you’ll want to try to cry away from home.
3. Old Photographs
If your stuck emotions are tied to a person or group of people then keeping your old photographs on hand might help you to heal your old wounds.
Maybe you access your feelings more easily through self-reflection. If so, journaling could be your golden ticket to tear-town.
Write down the questions “What is my greatest fear in life?”, “Who has hurt me the most that I still haven’t forgiven?”, and “What does my inner child need to hear?” at the top of three separate pages, and answer each question repeatedly until one of them triggers an emotional response in you.
5. Repeatedly Verbalize The Root Words Of Your Shame
If you already know what the root of your emotional trigger is (or maybe you discover it by trying out the first four exercises) then you can use the root phrase of your hurt/pain/shame to trigger your tears.
This is one of the most effective things that I do to trigger myself into processing emotion. Between my clients and my personal experience, I’ve heard/used tear-triggering phrases such as “I’m not good enough”, “He/She/They’ll find out that I’m poisonous”, “You’re not safe”, “I’ll never be loved”, “Why do you love me?”, and “I’m exactly what they think I am.” Again, none of these phrases will mean anything to you if they aren’t somewhat tied to your unique emotional wound, so I would implore you to put in the work to try and find out what the root of yours may be.
Uprooting Emotional Shame
Believe me, this isn’t easy work. There were times during my demon-hunting sessions where I figuratively felt like I was processing poison through my blood stream. It felt nightmarishly bad. My friends and I even jokingly referred to my demon-hunting sessions as “Gollum sessions” (after the darker version of the Jekyll and Hyde character in the Lord Of The Rings series).
But I can promise you that the sense of lightness and joy that is on the other side of processing your old emotional wounds is so magnificent that anyone’s life could improve from just a few intentional sessions of crying.
As men, we don’t talk about crying enough. It’s still heavily shunned in Western culture and I think that the old stereotype has had a long enough run.
It’s time for men to embrace the tears once more. Whether you do it by yourself or with your intimate partner, there’s no limit to how much you can process your old wounds. And eventually, the stuck emotional energy will become increasingly difficult to find (because you will have healed it).
I wish you the best of luck in your journey.
You can see more of Jordan’s best writing at JordanGrayConsulting.com
Photo courtesy of JordanGrayConsulting.com