Why it’s Absolutely Okay to Cry at Work

I am giving you permission to be yourself at work.

For some, this might be displaying family photos at your desk as a reminder of your personal priorities or going out to lunch every day to decompress from the day.

For others, it’s the need to express themselves at work with intense feelings.  

Speaking from personal experience, I was labeled ‘too emotional’ at a job early in my career and my boss once said to me ‘oh, you aren’t going to cry are you?’ CUE THE WATERWORKS.

As a kid I was often labeled as a “spoilsport” or a “cry baby”. These terms are hurtful and carry negative meaning to a child as they go into adulthood without any context. Being a sensitive child was viewed as a negative trait, while teachers would often help me try to overcome my sensitivity. It was well meaning, but had an impact on the way I viewed myself and my surroundings.

I taught myself to suppress these ‘emotional’ outbursts, which made me think there was something wrong with me and I tried hard to be someone else. As I pushed down my true self I didn’t find ways to work with my intense feelings and I formed a hidden depression that consumed me.

My life changed when I stumbled upon the term ‘HSP’ which is short for HIghly Sensitive Person. In finding a text by the name name, The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine N. Aron, it was like a deep dive into many of my personal experiences and insecurities. I felt empowered in finding similar experiences as mine.

What is a Highly Sensitive Person?

According to Dr. Aron’s definition, the highly sensitive person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.

This greater awareness of the subtle makes one more intuitive, which means an HSP can pick up work and information semi consciously or in an unconscious way. If you are an HSP, this feels more like a ‘sixth sense’. You just intuitively know how something will turn out without realizing how. This deeper processing of subtle details allows you to process the past and the future more.   

The downside of this trait shows up at more intense levels of stimulation. What becomes moderately stimulating for most is overly stimulating for HSP’s, and this over arousal can induce a frazzled state or altogether complete shutdown.

Strategies to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

When you feel overwhelmed in a situation, there is a deeper reason for the discomfort. For example, when I travel to a new city, I have anxiety being in a new place. I have to change my mindset and tell myself this new city is just like any other city, people are going to work, living their life. It’s nothing to be afraid of!

Here are some other methods you can use when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed and want to take action.

  • Repeat a mantra or comforting phrase
  • Take a break
  • Get water
  • Take a walk
  • Calm your breathing
  • Search out an HSP to confide in
  • Adjust your posture
  • Smile 🙂

It’s up to us to take action of our situation and feel better. We often forget that taking action is the first step to fully accepting, loving and understanding our situation.

As you reflect on your own situation, I encourage you to continually make the most of your life. This includes empowering your personal actions, digging into your motivations and growing from your journey.

If you think you or someone you love might be an HSP, here is a link to Dr. Aron’s quick test.


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