Saying “don’t cry” when someone is crying is just something we do.
People say “don’t cry” for a couple of reasons.
It’s ingrained is us that crying is bad and we want it to stop.
Seeing others in distress also leads to our own personal distress.
We want to make it better for them and for us.
We have no idea what else to say or do.
We were always told not to cry.
Emotions can also be contagious. When we’re sitting with someone in distress, especially someone we care about, it makes us feel uncomfortable. You might notice that you want to run or even crawl out of your skin.
Learning how to sit with other’s distress and not do anything about it is so important. It will improve all types of relationships and help people feel like they can be themselves around you.
Instead of saying “don’t cry,” try this
“It’s ok to cry.”
“let it out.”
“I get why you’re upset.”
help them get to a safe or private place where they can cry
use physical touch (with permission)
ask open-ended questions about what they’re feeling
sit with them
say nothing and be present
“I would cry too.”
ask before giving advice, “do you want advice or do you just want me to listen?”
“I’m glad you feel comfortable sharing this with me.”
“I’m here for you.”
Bring a tissue or water
“We will get through this together.”
“It makes sense why you’re upset.”
“We don’t have to figure this out right now. It’s ok to just be sad.”
If you have someone in your life who is going through a hard time and you want to support them, I have a course that may help you.
This course is for anyone who
wants to become more trauma informed (who doesn’t!?)
wants to become a more supportive friend, family member, or partner
would like to learn about how trauma impacts the brain
wants to learn how to heal their past and their relationships
You can learn more about the Heal Together course here.
If you want to share a list of things to say or do instead of “don’t cry,” here’s an image
Whitney Goodman, LMFT is a therapist, author, and mother on a quest to make mental health information accessible and easy to understand.