Emotions are our birthright. Crying is not a sign of weakness, and your anger is closely tied to your own fierce truth. When we react to our emotions with rejection or repression, they become complex story bundles, locked in our hearts and bellies, and we call them things like depression and rage. Allowed to exist on their own, they are weather patterns, and the rain they bring renews the despairing or apathetic soul with life giving force.
In the first week since the inauguration, amidst all the executive orders, protests and general cock crowing from Trump supporters, one thing has stood out to me the most: the gloating satisfaction from the right of the way the "left has been reduced to tears". If you avoid Breitbart and other piss-and-vinegar commentaries from the right, you may not have come across the phenomenon of stereotyping all non-Trump supporters as "sniveling crybabies", "poor little snowflakes", "crying liberals freaking out and melting down" etc, but it is common and frequent. Every time I read one of these headlines, the image that pops up in my mind's eye is Biff, from Back to the Future.
And then I googled photos of Biff, and I came across this gem: Donald Trump inspired "Back to the Future" bully Biff.
Sorry folks, but I guess I really am a child of the 80s.
These comments have stood out to me because they are an immediate transparency into the arrested development of the people making these statements. I DO read articles from Breitbart and the like, because I want to understand where conservatives are coming from. However, the vitriolic bullying that occurs with diminishing people because of an emotional reaction is shocking to me not because it is so obviously lacking in that pinnacle of maturity, empathy, but because they might as well be holding up a megaphone to their own vulnerability as it screams, "I AM TERRIFIED OF FEELING ANYTHING!"
This is the plight of The Bully. Intense fragility and a sense of worthlessness or unlovability, hiding behind a tough and powerful figure who can bend others to his will. We all know this, we've all seen that after-school special (sorry...80s child again). It's one of those nice times when Pop Psychology is actually in alignment with actual psychology. So why would someone include this type of insult in an argument when they are wanting to appear intelligent or mature?
Reason 1: They're bullies.
Reason 2, with nuance: Because it works. These comments are directed at a demographic that, if I may overgeneralize, have found themselves on the margins because they are "too sensitive"...HSP's, empaths, humans with fully functioning hearts...you know. The "weaklings". These comments bring up personally historical feelings of shame, and with shame, comes silence, repression, depression, apathy and inaction. They are comments meant to wound and dispirit.
Attempts to be insulting by attacking natural empathic reactions also work because the dominant culture agrees that displays of emotion, in particular crying, are signs of weakness. Try this experiment for a moment. Imagine you are watching a major politician, a president, give a national address where he begins to cry. Notice what immediately arises in your own reaction. Personally as a therapist, this would peak my interest, awaken a compassionate response and make me lean in with interest. Perhaps your response is positive, negative or somewhere in between. Now imagine YOU are that major political leader, or in another position as a leader...giving a power point presentation at your work, speaking in front of a large group or even just in public. How do you feel, displaying emotion in this way? Pay attention to your self talk, the way your heart feels, what your belly says. I'd put a bet down that somewhere in there, maybe a lot, maybe a little, maybe hiding in a corner, is a good amount of self-judgement and shame.
People in power, people who are powerful, are not supposed to cry. It shows that you are not in control, that you are letting nature have the upper hand and that you are...GASP...acting like A WOMAN. And we all know that The Emotional Woman is the worst kind of them all.
It can take a long time to fully recover our emotional capacity and work through both the outer and inner judgements, but the process is a worthy one. Rather than being a path into sobbing ineptitude, finally learning how to give our hearts permission for the full range of experience is like discovering the fountain of youth. There is an alchemical process that happens when an emotional response is allowed to complete its gestalt. Instead of destroying us as we feared, we find that it is like watering a wilted plant. We literally come back to life...enlivened and more present to the fullness of the moment. We become undefended because we understand that we don't need the defense. Walking with our vulnerability, we appreciate and understand it in others. It's called empathy.
So, my poor little leftist luvvie snowflakes, melt away. As the meme says, "Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together."
Or as the song goes, "I'll stop the world and melt with you."
(Also, you don't have to believe me. Because Science. )