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WRITTEN BY: Hermana Theresa Walter

When you grow up, you don't remember much about your childhood, but looking at our children, grandchildren, and nieces and nephews, we have an idea of how we spent our childhood. We've observed that when you're a baby: you cry, you shake, and you even throw tantrums.

A mom knows how to distinguish when her baby cries out of anger, sadness, joy, or fear.

Normally, a baby cries until he gets tired or until his primary needs are met. He cries to vent his emotions, and this process works well when you are a toddler.

Have you experienced it firsthand? With your children, nieces, and nephews?

A small child, when he falls and hurts himself, cries bitterly, it is a survival method and you will see how in a little while he is playing again since everything is forgotten and he can continue with his life. The same thing happens with their tantrums, they work like this: they move their hands and feet furiously until they hit their mom, and in a little while, when they get mom's attention, they recover, stabilize and go back to playing as if nothing had happened.

What happens when they get a little older?

Adults are no longer willing to let these same behaviors continue, they get tired of the child's venting; so, he has to learn to hold back his tears, tantrums, and tremors. He has to be "big”; he has to begin to grow up and experience emotions without the resource of his frequent outbursts. This is how adulthood disorders begin.

All our lives we are taught that we must repress our emotions... and most if not all adults have to relearn about venting them again. We become so anxious, angry, frustrated or depressed that we are faced with the situation of seeking professional help.

And it is with the psychologist that we again have the "authorization" and it gives us permission to feel our forbidden anger for so many years, to talk about it. It gives us permission to be able to feel, to unburden our fears and sadness, which for years gave us a sense of shame and prohibition. We learn again how to handle the outlet we were born with.

Normally, giving ourselves permission to vent in a healthy way is a great relief. Not only can we vent the sadness, fears, and anger of our daily lives, but we are also venting the traumas, hurts, and negative messages of childhood and adolescence. In adult life, we need more patience with our emotions when it comes to venting them. It is a slow process and it is not as fast as in childhood.

Alexander Lowen, an American psychoanalyst, said about this reality:

Look at a baby. When it is hungry, falls or hits, gets frustrated, feels lonely, it cries...bitterly, with sobs. As a self-comfort mechanism, when the pain situation is over, it stops crying and returns to its peaceful state, and starts playing again.

Throughout life, babies learn not to cry. Through the famous phrases "Don't cry or I'll spank you so you have a reason to cry." "You're a big stop crying." There are other worse insults. Then when you reach adulthood, adults no longer see reasons to cry or a "valid" way to cry.

The truth is that when you cry with strength, desire, and sobbing, it frees the body from tension, the mind from all those negative thoughts, and the heart from pain. Not only does it free the person from stress, but it also has the power to release the burden of sadness and tension of years. Humans were created this way; we were born with this release valve.

So, we can give ourselves permission to cry, alone or with another person. We will feel a great relief. Some people are afraid to cry because they think the tears will never end. Yes, they do! It relaxes the body, clears the mind, and heals the heart. Let's cry with hope and courage! (Alexander Lowen, Bioenergetics Exercises, location 495)

How can we learn to vent again?

The first step is to give ourselves permission. It is okay to cry. This involves overriding the prohibitions of parents and grandparents and learning to disobey their unhealthy messages.

A crucial step is to have people around us who allow us to have tears, tremors, and tantrums. Keep in mind that the most important thing is our own permission, and this is the one we really struggle to give ourselves often.

Some people say they can't cry. Young children learn to hold back tears by holding their breath.

As you begin to breathe deeply in times of sadness, you give yourself permission for tears, sobs, and, at last, relief.

We need to always remember that tears are not sadness but the venting of sadness. If we cannot vent sadness, we may get depressed. Sometimes we think that if we start crying, we will never be able to finish crying. So, we must let go of our fear of crying. Yes, we will be able to stop crying.

The same thing happens with fear. Some people complain about cold sweat on their hands, thinking that it indicates some disorder. The cold sweat is a natural response of the body to vent fear, along with trembling and laughter. When we start shaking, it scares us because we feel out of control, but what´s really happening is that we are venting our fear. If we don't vent our fear, we may suffer from anxiety. Then we can give ourselves permission to shake, sweat, and laugh. Then we face life's challenges with more courage.

In many situations, it is not acceptable to vent anger, especially for women. Many women cry instead of getting angry.

This kind of venting can be used as well. Punching a pillow, hitting the bed, writing, or drawing our anger are ways of venting anger that don´t hurt anyone. Karate exercises are effective as well.

After venting, it is easier to decide on actions we can take in a particular situation.

There are other ways, too, that the body has for venting anger, for example, hot sweat and laughter. Let us remember that a temper tantrum is not getting angry. It is venting anger.

When you are an adult it is up to us to re-learn to reconcile yourself with your basic emotions. Letting off steam is our friend. We can talk to our emotions, draw them, sing, and dance to them, according to the inspiration of the moment. We can recognize the release present in sports, games, and exercises. Letting off steam is healthy. It is up to us to reintegrate it into our lives.

Emotions also give us clues to understand what needs healing in our lives. When we feel a strong emotion in a not-so-strong situation, it sometimes indicates that a memory from the past is surfacing. We may ask ourselves, "When did something similar happen to me in my childhood or adolescence?" "Does this person remind me of someone or something in my past that hurt me?" The first step to healing is to acknowledge the event or words that hurt us. Talking about these things with someone we trust, such as a psychotherapist, helps to reconcile with the original trauma, acknowledge its effects on our life, let go and move on.

We must learn to change the way we think and create new ways of expressing ourselves. We find it hard to express ourselves so much that we often feel the need to explode, but with enough venting, we can say what we feel more calmly and with less likelihood of hurting the other person. Also, being able to vent awakens our own compassion for others and awakens others' compassion for us. Letting ourselves be vulnerable is scary but can strengthen human relationships.

So, we can take the example of babies in our lives. Cry when we are sad, tremble when we are afraid, and throw tantrums when we are angry. As adults, we can do this in the healthy ways we desire. Underneath the anger, sadness, and fear we will find sources of peace, joy, and love that can give us an immense capacity to enjoy life and handle any situation with grace.

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