I do believe that if you haven’t learnt about sadness, you cannot appreciate happiness.
~ Nana Mouskouri
Today I have the pretty ambitious goal of helping you learn how to overcome sadness. This is not an easy task but one I think we can manage together. The reason I say this, is that sadness is a human emotion and even though you might not think that anyone understands your sadness all of us have at one point or another been sad.
It is through this communal experience that I hope to help you today in learning how to deal with sadness, how to get rid of sadness so that you might find joy on the other side.
To every season
Sadness is like a season, an emotional and tough season. I see sadness as perhaps similar to fall or autumn, though many people might disagree with me.
I say I see sadness as autumnal because I am not a big fan of autumn. In fact my favourite seasons are spring and summer.
So from autumn we come to winter which I liken to depression and in fact there is a chance that if we don’t learn to overcome and deal with sadness that we might fall into a depression. Many folks who find that they get sad or depressed around fall and winter use tools like an SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lamp.
A SAD light is very effective for many folks who feel sad or melancholic during these seasons of shortened daylight.
The idea that I am trying to get across is that as the seasons change so do our emotions. Sadness is just like a season and if you accept it and work through it you will come through it to the sunnier seasons of spring and summer, or joy and happiness.
Swim in the pool of emotions
Society is partly at fault for why so many of us struggle with feelings of sadness and perhaps to an extent depression.
Why is this? Well, society makes us feel that we have to be “on” or feeling “good” all the time. When was the last time that you asked someone how they were doing and they said, “oh boy I feel so sad”? Never right?
The reason is that it is seen as impolite or even rude to talk about the sadder or bluer feelings that all of us will experience at one point or another. Yet all the TV shows, the magazine covers and the talking heads are effervescent and happy if not downright manic.
In light of this you might think that feeling sad is unnatural but it’s not.
And before we can overcome and move through sadness we have to dance with it. We have to swim in those blue, cold waters. Only once you have embraced sadness and delved deeply into its cause can you understand it, accept it and then move on.
Express sadness appropriately
People love to laugh and goof around right? You see it all the time. And it makes sense, laughing and feeling happy and giving expression to those emotions makes us feel good. It is encouraged. Go to a party and you’ll see happy, smiling, laughing, bubbly people.
Yet we don’t allow ourselves the free expression of the opposite emotions of joy and happiness.
Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away. In fact it can make it worse. If you keep a lid on a boiling pot eventually the pot will explode off and the contents will bubble out violently like a volcano.
I believe this is partly responsible for the violence we see in society. Folks aren’t allowed or encouraged to express their sad emotions.
But it is important to allow yourself to express grief and sadness appropriately. How you do that is up to you. If you feel like watching a sad movie and having a good cry then go for it. If you want to allow yourself to be quite and contemplate the cause of your sadness while listening to sad songs then do that. If heading to a boxing class to workout your sadness is good for you then do it.
Walk with your friend sadness
Yes, I said it, sadness is a friend. But s/he is not a long term friend or ally. Rather a friend that allows us to grow and learn more about ourselves through feeling and living and then moving through emotions of sadness and grief and despair and even depression.
Once you have come to embrace sadness, to dwell in it to understand it you then must come to accept it.
And at acceptance it is time to get back to productivity. Lift yourself up off the couch and start walking again through the daily rhythms and chores and expectations of life.
It might be painful at first because your friend sadness will still be there by your side… for a while.
But after some time you will notice that sadness will leave and journey away from you leaving a small lump or bruise that will heal in time. But it will heal because you came to notice it and understand it and then work through it.
The next time sadness comes for a visit you won’t be so afraid of him and you’ll be able to welcome her at the door of your hear for a short visit. Learning more about yourself again before your friend leaves. Leaving you stronger than you were before.
But if you find that sadness is too much to bear alone, then you should and must reach out to others. Friends can be great allies in helping us overcome sadness. So can counselors if you prefer that approach. We all need a leg up from time to time and there is no shame in that. The International Suicide Prevention Wiki has tons of resources to help you.