Shift Happens

Musings on the mind and the perennial capacity for change

Tears of Joy, Tears of Sorrow

Did a journalist take advantage of emotional skier Bode Miler and make him cry?

Many of us watched the Olympic Bronze medal winner, Bode Miller, as he became the oldest Olympic skier to medal in the super G. That was a reason for his tears of joy, which he shared with his Olympic competitor wife. Having reinjured his knee, he quietly bowed out of his last race and departed Sochi without the type of fanfare a hero deserved. But did he deserve the tears of sorrow as a reporter questioned him about whether or not he was racing for that medal in honor of his brother who had died of a seizure earlier this year? This debate has been going on in journalistic circles since the event last week. Was the reporter going for ratings in bringing the tears or was it just fair play in the world of celebrity sports? Should she have let Bode enjoy the moment of glory or were the tears of joy meant to be joined by the tears of sorrow?

Crying, in any form is cathartic. It is a response to something emotional—happy or sad. Stephen Sideroff, Ph.D., a staff psychologist at UCLA states that most people cry out of sadness. He also says that people can cry in response to something of beauty. People cry out of frustration or anger. No matter what the reason, crying is a form of release that comes from the build up of energy when there are feelings. Babies cry because that is how they first communicate feelings of pain (please change this awful diaper), hunger (milk, please) fear (don’t leave me alone), or the need for attention. Adults cry to get attention as well.

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But back to Bode. He has hung up his skis stating that the 2014 Olympics was his last. In 2006, then the bad boy of the Olympics was reputed to be making more than $4 million in endorsements from such companies as Nike, Barilla pasta and more. But being the party animal he was back then, he failed to medal and the endorsements disappeared. Having cleaned up his act, he is now a motivational speaker with fees running into the 6-digit arena. And as a 6-medal champ he should be shedding tears of joy at what are sure to be the coming new endorsements. He has a foundation that benefits youth sports and environmental causes. His new “boy scout” image is good for the world of sports, not just skiing. Now that brings tears of joy, though I personally shed tears of sorrow that Bode will not be back on the platform in 2018. No matter which Bode showed up at the Olympic slopes, he made it more exciting for this viewer who salutes his accomplishments and his new maturity.

Susan Winston, LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a television producer and writer in Los Angeles.

 

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