Sarah reports that the first thing she feels every morning when she wakes up is sad… not depressed it’s more like a low-level sadness lingering in the background.
She feels this as she goes through her day. It doesn’t prevent her from having positive feelings and experiences as well but it’s a behind the scenes negativity that she carries with her every day.
Sarah trys to fend off sadness by acting happier than she feels to make colleagues, friends and family feel better. Her partner would like to see her ‘smile more’ or ‘lighten up’ and worries that he is not making her happy.
Feeling sad confuses her because she says she doesn’t really have anything to be sad about. She has a career she enjoys, a solid relationship and good friends. She eats well, exercises and has things in her life that she looks forward to.
Sarah concludes that ‘happy’ is simply not her default feeling and she worries there is something wrong with her.
I relate to her story. Since I was a child I have felt as though a part of me sits in the background watching what is going on around me, not participating and feeling sad. Feeling sad has always been part of my life experience but it’s not the only emotion I feel.
Like it or not life is full of painful realities
Throughout our lives, we are confronted with painful realities from family and the environment we grow up in, friends, rejections, frustrations, loss, disease and death. These are typical human experiences that cause us to feel pain and yet we are encouraged to suppress how we feel about them. (‘lighten up, don’t cry, don’t be sad, stop whining). We learn that happy feelings are acceptable and sad ones are to be stuffed away.
We can and often do develop unhealthy ways to numb the pain we feel.
As much as we try to avoid feeling sad the reality is we carry it with us from birth to death. It is a normal part of being human so why are we trying so hard to ignore this emotion?
People often associate sadness with fear and depression. There is a fear that if we allow ourselves to experience our sadness we will fall into a dark pit of despair that we can’t get out of.
Note: If you experience deep sadness that has gone on too long, leaves you drained, thinking disturbing thoughts and unable to enjoy your life please get help. Sadness is not depression, but suppressing any emotion can make you feel more depressed.
Everyday life contains happy feelings and sad ones.
The truth is when you allow yourself to feel your sadness in a healthy way you discover that it has a natural lifespan and will pass through you, dissipating on its own. It will surely come back but will pass through you again and you will become stronger with each passing. The act of giving yourself permission to feel what you feel helps you to understand who you are and gain trust in your own ability to take care of yourself.
If you stop running from the sad feelings you will have more energy to devote to what is important to you rather than using it up trying to fend off what you are not allowed to or afraid of feeling.
A healthy balanced life does not center around pursuing just one feeling…happy. We are at our most content and healthy when we give ourselves permission to be who we are and feel all of our feelings, the ones we like and the ones we don’t like.
To learn more about how to embrace sadness or other emotions you may be uncomfortable experiencing contact me and we will work with them together.