I have an issue where I feel so ashamed to cry. I know Islam encourages crying and that has helped me be able to cry in front of Muslims and Allah.
However I still feel ashamed in front of non Muslims especially my family (I am a convert).
However I am very sensitive sometimes and I can’t help crying. Sometimes I wish I would die because I feel so humiliated.
I also sometimes want to kill other people whom I cry in front of to get rid of the shame I feel. I know it’s not normal to feel like this but I don’t know how to get over it.
When I cry in front of my family and they try to comfort me I feel very angry that they noticed and said something about it.
I try not to speak angrily but sometimes I can’t stop myself.
In this counseling answer:
Ask yourself why it bothers you so much to show emotion in public.
Reflect on the strength of Omar Ibn Khattab who openly wept in front of people.
Identify positive coping skills you can utilize to better control your emotions such as breathing exercises or visualization.
Consider professional counseling.
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatuulahi wa barakatu.
Thank you for taking the time to write in and trust us with your concerns.
It is my understanding you feel shame and embarrassment in crying.
To the extent you want people who see you to disappear and it causes you to lash out towards them. It is also my understanding you are a convert, alhamdulillah.
Please take some comfort in knowing many people struggle with expressing their emotions openly in public, especially crying or other forms of emotional expression that signal vulnerability.
Let’s unpack that and see why this is happening so you can reduce those negative reactions inshallah.
Why We Hide Emotions
Firstly, let us talk about why people hide their emotions and don’t like to cry in public. Many reasons exist as to why we try to hide or disguise our emotions in public.
Those reasons revolve around fear and anxiety. One main reason is that expressing emotions so strongly with tears can be perceived as emotional weakness or more accurately, the person crying thinks others are perceiving them as weak.
They may feel they are handing over power to the people who witness this expression of emotion. It can create a feeling of powerlessness and the only way to take that power back is to act aggressively and strongly.
Think of it like going from one extreme to another. Someone cries and to make up for that they start yelling aggressively.
This is not a healthy reaction and actually makes people judge them far more than crying would, but that is their defense mechanism.
I want you to ask yourself this question and think about it for a moment. Does that sound like you? Do you feel like crying in public gives away power and makes you look vulnerable?
Let us go farther into this. Why would crying in front of someone make you vulnerable? Crying signals powerful emotions, good or bad and can also signal a loss of control.
Yet aggression and anger tend to represent a loss of control much greater than crying. Truthfully, it takes courage to cry in public. It is an act that requires courage and power. For many, it is easier to appear emotionless in public.
My Sister, as a fellow convert, I have found much inspiration within the male and female sahaba. These are the companions of the Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him).
One well-known sahaba is named Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him). He was known for being uncompromising, strong, intimidating, fearless and a judge that was very fair.
A man that commanded respect and did not present weakness. Yet he is also known for weeping! This strong man was known to cry, Subhanallah.
“Abdullah ibn `Isa that he had two black streaks on his face as a result of constant weeping”. [IslamOnline]
Additionally, were you aware that crying when making duaa is admirable and a means of drawing closer to Allah? A duaa that is made in tears is bound to have more sincerity and greater intention. Tears can be a blessing and even protection.
“One who weeps out of fear of Allah, will not enter the Hell till milk returns back in the udder; and the dust raised on account of fighting in the path of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never exist together”. [Tirmidhi]
You can utilize positive coping skills to help you better control your emotions. While there is nothing wrong with crying in public, I understand you want to have better control over this so you can control when it happens.
I encourage you to work on identifying 3 positive coping skills that enable you to control and reign in your emotions. Here are some examples, but please feel free to come up with your own and find what works for you.
When you feel these emotions coming on, imagine a sink. That water in the faucet is your emotion, visualize yourself turning the sink off so no water comes out.
Walk to an area that is more private then visualize yourself turning the knob slightly to let it come out in a controlled manner. Release some of that emotion then when you are ready, visualize yourself closing the faucet again shutting off the water.
Check out this counseling video:
Utilize deep breath breathing exercises. Breath in slowly and deeply through your nose while slowly counting in your head 1, 2, 3, 4.
Then hold it for 4 seconds and slowly breathe out through your mouth while counting in your head 1, 2, 3, 4. Do this a few times, focusing on your breath and counting until your emotions feel more controlled.
Say dhikr such as Alhamdulillah 33x, this is sunnah, increases your God-consciousness and will help redirect your thoughts.
Make duaa or recite Quran. Although for some people Quran may increase their tears.
Orient yourself to your surroundings via your senses. What do you see? smell? taste? hear? feel? Focus on those 5 senses and think about them.
Sister, you can also consider looking into professional counseling to help you better unpack your emotions surrounding this.
They can also help you develop positive coping skills to control your emotions. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this in person but would be interested to try professional counseling, you can utilize online services such as Noor Human Consulting.
Take your time exploring various counseling options and find someone you feel comfortable speaking honestly with.
Here is a summary of your next steps moving forward.
- Ask yourself why it bothers you so much to show emotion in public
- Reflect on the strength of Omar Ibn Khattab who openly wept in front of people
- Identify positive coping skills you can utilize to better control your emotions such as breathing exercises or visualization
- Consider professional counseling
Please understand Sister, it is a blessing to feel things so strongly and shows your heart is big. That does mean it takes greater strength to reign them in and control them, but inshallah this can be accomplished over time with practice.
During those moments when you cannot control it and tears come, please try to utilize those same coping skills to control the aggression that follows and remind yourself crying is a perfect time to make duaa.
May Allah make it easy on you and grant you greater emotional control,
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.