Do You Cry or Do You Lie?

Crying is a secret sacred place, a place of solitude.

It’s not a space we navigate with much finesse; there are few maps on how to cry.

Many conflicting feelings arise around tears -fear of looking weak, of being too emotional, guilt for making others feel bad, relief at sharing pent-up thoughts, joy at being seen in our truth. To cry is to render your heart naked, undefended & utterly exposed to the world. No wonder it is shrouded in so much terror, secrecy and shame.

The Dignity of Tears







Only human beings cry.

Other creatures do have tears, that is, their eyes release liquid in response to dust, wind & other irritants. But only humans -with their unique ability to feel into what’s possible- can cry from actual emotions.

Why do we cry?

There are many ways to tell the history of tears. Here’s one possible narrative…

With water being such a coveted resource, and eyesight being our main defense against harm, why would evolution ‘waste’ good liquid and compromise our vision. What is the benefit? Nature must get a payoff for every cost.

I suspect, when humans gathered around the fire to share stories with their tribe, an emergent system arose wherein any member experiencing suffering, sadness, ecstasy or any strong feeling would be exposed with one unmistakable indicator of emotional intensity: tears.

Feelings are internal and can often be hidden, but tears are external and thus seen by others. They are explicit visual ques that indicate: this individual needs help. A bleeding cut on your body says “pay attention, do something to heal the wound”. Similarly, tears say the tribe is bleeding through the tender heart of one member, “pay attention, go and help”.

There must have been a time when tears flowed freely from human beings, a time when they were a clear signal for support. Every new baby cries. Often their howls and tears are the only way we can discern their needs. Children cry honestly when they require something important. But at some point those real tears get decoded by another as something other than an S.O.S. They get shamed, even punished. And in that moment the inherent dignity of tears are lost. From then on, our tears get pushed down and cast out as a native form of communication.

We now live in a world where tears are rarely seen as noble, rarely held as sacred, rarely honored as the most authentic expression of a soul longing to be heard.

Tears…your tears, are the way your body shows you what’s important to you. Holding them back is a form of self-deception and a withhold of your deepest truth. When I feel that familiar proto-tear sensation rising up in my throat, I know I always have a choice in that moment: to cry or…to lie.

Every uncried tear is a lost epiphany, a missed lesson, a moment that failed at aliveness. Each time you cry you release ancient tears from all the moments you didn’t let yourself cry in the past. No tear is ever wasted, each one holds in it’s liquid infinity, 1o years worth of therapeutic salve. Knowing this, I now look forward to opportunities to cry…once the portal is open, I let as many drops out as I can. The more I cry, the more alive I feel.

Tears teach us what we actually care about, they point at what matters the most, they take us back to a place of innocence & transparency. Tears lead us home.

Crying, as I see it, is beyond judgment. Funded by any number of emotions tears are neither good nor bad. They are simply our response to the intensity of being alive. I suspect that wise, enlightened hearts live most of their lives only one thought away from tears.

To cry freely is to fly in the face of cultural imperatives and stand for your right to be expressed. This takes immense power & courage. It’s much easier to hide your tears than to feel them; to suppress your sadness than to share it. It takes a true warrior to cry.

There’s even a romantic glamor in it. To be moved is to be tender-hearted. Cynics never sob. Only one who feels epic emotions and cares deeply about something has the ability to cry. It feels dramatic, poetic to be SO alive. Tears are the most appropriate response to life & love, when they’re fully experienced.

Recently a friend and I shared some painful stories about historic heartbreaks. The space was  safe enough for both of us to feel into some un-felt feelings and let them surface. As soon as her eyes welled up, mine followed in empathic resonance. As is the case with all shared tears, we found each other again, but at a new level of intimacy. There’s nothing like the ancient fellowship of tears.

Next time you feel the intensity of life moving through your body via strong sensations that take discipline to attend to and concentration to hold, I invite you to surrender to the urge to express. Let go of the facade, “I’m fine” or “it’s no big deal”, leave out your apology. I invoke you to consciously make space for your true feelings to occupy the stage; give them the microphone and listen to them speak. They rose up from your unconscious mind to teach you something. Honor them with your listening.

If you can abandon yourself to the truth of your experience, you might feel that familiar tension at the back of your throat, that proto-tears state. I highly recommend you take yourself on a journey through that secret land of tears. Go for a swim through your own emotions. With practice you can map this sacred terrain, where crying is your compass for what’s good, true and beautiful. Become a cartographer of your own heart.

And every time you cry, remember this: you are embarking on a series of revelations. So keep your mind wide and your heart open. You say who you are by what makes you cry…

Staying with your somatic sensations while having an emotion will take you to places beyond your imagination. You’ll meet parts of your heart you never even knew existed. If you are willing to hold the possibility that tears might be your most profound teacher, then crying will become an education about the contours of your own soul. But I must warn you, this practice ultimately becomes a love story -between you and reality itself.

So prepare to fall in love -with all your current, future and past selves.

Let the tyranny of tears invoke your most tender truths.
And let’s choose crying over lying, at last.

-Annie Lalla


  1. Dear Annie,

    Your words and philosophy (Crying over Lying) about crying are so outstanding that I had to comment. I love what
    you say about crying “You are embarking on a series of revelations.” and “You say who you are by what makes you cry.”

    This is changed my attitude.
    I’m reposting some of your words on my blog and will send readers to your site for the full article. This post has to be shared!

  2. Annie is the devine love poet. That is certainly true. The way how Annie express emotions in words and describe the essence of love, makes me just forget that I am on this earth.

    Thank you Annie for being on this earth. I am here to learn from how Annie define and creates life. expressive and fearless in the full energy of what is impossible made possible. Life is in my hand, I still can not believe it, but thank to your vision, I need to practice the philosophy of life is what you make of it, accept it in its total version of it, The bad the ugly the doubts and the struggle and the beauty simutainously.

  3. Great article. Thank you. I did cry yesterday and tried to roll with it. This is another way of thinking about it. I promise to fall in love with my sadness and discover what it is trying to tell me. It will be about compassion empathy and kindness … To follow its positive guide, with gentleness and care. Thank you Annie … I did not realize I could focus on this.

  4. Dear Annie
    It’s a pleasant surprise to intersect paths along a common thread, in this case, tears.
    I had always associated tears with pain, especially in early memories of my mother, who had much to feel pain over.
    I tried to hide my tears so as not to add to the pain, admit that I could sense the pain; the shame around it.
    In recent years there has been a very gradual shift to recognizing that the tears are like the rains. They come in all forms, from ferocious to gentle, from cleansing to drowning, yet they are the gift of their own spoken presence, their own intelligence of my heart, that informs me insofar as I am able to pay attention to them.
    Your words are nice company, and I appreciate them.
    Thank you,

  5. Dear Annie: what a glorious way to honor tears and emotions! Thank you for being such a lovely “love teacher” who leaves her graceful love mark on each beautifully crafted article, full of uplifting phrases and words for the joy of All. Count me as your fan! Blessings, Mónica

  6. Hey Annie!! This article is my essence… thanks for being so real and in touch with truth and thank you for sharing it with us so that we don’t feel so alone in believing the same. I typically cry over injustice. How unfair it is that only a select few people get to live their dreams while everyone else keeps dreaming. I know that this is an expression of my own internalized victim consciousness. Lately, it’s been triggered more easily. Seeing people emerging and engaging in life, choosing careers, exploring, etc. really gets me down. I want to break free of the cycle, the attachment I have to sorrow. I am TOO attuned to my tears! So much so that I feel defined by them. I want to know what it is like to feel “successful.”



  7. Interesting read. Yet I can’t relate. Not because I feel it is weak to cry but
    because I cannot cry even if I feel internally a mess in a way that feels like
    I ‘could’ cry (which is rare itself). I can’t even force it out if I feel like
    that. There’s one exception – when I lose a beloved pet. Even then it is once
    or twice for a few minutes, and then that’s it (I am far closer to animals than
    people, which might be part of why animals). Aside from that, I can’t cry.

    Part of it may be I am limited in the emotional range, aloof and admittedly can
    be seen as emotionally cold. But while this all may be true for me, I don’t at
    all see crying as weak: the opposite is true; if you hold in crying (when you
    actually can cry) that is weak – you’re feeling shame (or whatever) and you’re
    not being true to yourself, you’re throwing away dignity and if you’re not being
    yourself there, are you in other way? Those who are unable to accept pain (all
    kinds of pain) are those that are afraid, afraid of looking weak which
    ironically results in being weak.

  8. Such a beautiful post! Crying is such an essential form of expression and energy release. Unfortunately, most of us men are socially programmed to not develop the art of release through crying. I remember the day in 2014, when I bawled my eyes out while watching an emotional scene in an otherwise mediocre film, at home. It was the first time I cried in 15+ years. It was such a grand release… Thank you for this article.

Leave a Reply

Please complete the math to prove you are human and not a spambot * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.