“Dad … Why do you always cry? You cry when you are happy and you cry when you are sad. Why?”
I knew that this was one of those rare moments when my concrete-thinking daughter was open to an insight that could have long-lasting consequences in the development of her ability to relate to her feelings. I had best be brief, succinct, and accurate. “Please God,” I silently prayed.
“I cry because I allow myself to feel … and tears are an important part of the feeling system. You see, Sweetheart, we were created with our hearts capable of feeling both joy and sadness. But our hearts can’t contain too much of either. So … we have a safety system that keeps our hearts from breaking if we feel too much of either sadness or joy. The extra comes out as tears. They can be happy tears or sad tears. But they both come out so that our hearts don’t have too much of either to hold. Because I permit myself to feel a lot … I have a lot of extra.”