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You don’t want to cry, but you feel the tears coming. They are right behind your eyelids, and in a couple of blinks, you know they will be all over your face—as will your “Yes, I’m a crier” humiliation.
That’s because, while crying is completely healthy and something you should do from time to time, that doesn’t mean you should let the tears flow anytime, anywhere. Think: Your boss says that project wasn’t your best work. Or your girlfriend calls you out for being a crappy friend, and simply wants an apology, not a meltdown. Or your partner wants to have a heart-to-heart and the tears start flowing before the conversation does. Cry during any of those scenarios, and things can get a lot worse real fast.
So how do you hold back the tears and keep a level head during serious conversations? Orma recommends giving yourself a pep talk before any big talk: Take a few deep breaths to calm your nerves, and tell yourself that you will stay calm, he says. For example, if you’re freaked because your boss has called you into a meeting, remind yourself of the good work you’ve done and the raise you just received. So no, you’re probably not getting canned.
Then, when you sit down for the oh-so-uncomfortable discussion, focus on what the other person is saying rather than getting trapped in your own head, suggests DeSilva. “Be mindful and fully engaged in the interaction. Don’t allow your mind to wander from the present interaction.”
If fears or worries start to pop up, ask questions to help alleviate them, and make sure you understand what the other person is saying (not what you fear they are saying) before you leave the room. “If you focus on the facts, your emotional reactions will be aligned with reality,” says Orma. And if that means crying, go ahead and cry.