To cry or not to cry? In this iconic Guns’n’Roses video from 1991 we see seemingly happy relationships for Axel and Slash come to destructive ends. The joy of love becomes the pain of sorrow. The response? No need to cry, love never dies.
So OK, the video is quite extreme in comparison to most of our relationship experiences, but it does contain a surprisingly relevant message. Within even our most supportive and meaningful relationships we will face challenge. For some of us our response is one of tears and sorrow, but there are times when our responses might be more destructive, both for ourselves and for others.
But more than this, we face similar challenges in most our relationships. All of us will face times of conflict, and all of us will at times feel anger in response, either directed at others or ourselves. It may be the misplaced word of a colleague, the misinterpreted look of a friend, or the action of a family member intended to provoke us. The challenge remains constant, when we feel emotional, how do we reassert some form of control over our response?
Reflecting the advice of the song, “don’t cry” perhaps offers us a, slightly clumsy, starting point. Acknowledging our feelings is a positive beginning, but we need to move beyond responding to the identified emotion, so we can make a constructive attempt to resolve the issues prompting our emotions.
If we are engulfed with tears or anger, it is difficult for us to make a measured and calculated response. Yet if anyone has ever told you, “no need to cry, everything will be fine”, you will already know, this advice doesn’t really help. What we need to learn to do is redirect our attention. If we feel overcome with emotion of any sort and want to regain composure, the best place for us to begin is by refocusing on something different which will engage our mind.
This doesn’t need to be a significant activity, but simply one which allow us to regain a sense of personal control. Playing a quick game on your phone or listening to piece of music often does the job. It allows us to redirect the focus of our attention for long enough to regain composure and a sense of context. Once we’ve done this, and stopped the metaphorical crying, we can then often take a more holistic view of the situation and identify the love that remains in the relationship.
Photo by Jack Finnigan on Unsplash