Feeling sad: the recipe for better mental health
When we feel pain, the natural response is to run away from it as fast as possible. When you touch a hot stove, your reflex is to pull your hand away immediately. This is an adaptation that has kept our species alive for millennia.
If being gnawed on by a saber tooth tiger had not been so painful, our ancestors probably would not have survived long enough to make babies. I would not be sitting here typing this right now.
It’s good to feel sad?
Often emotional pain is too much to bear as well, and we will quickly run away from it. In the case of severe trauma, such as rape or other extreme forms of violence, this may be a necessary means of survival. The emotional pain may just be too much. These traumas should be processed under the supervision of a trained therapist.
There are other cases, however, where experiencing “negative” feelings may not be so negative after all. Sometimes it’s good to feel sad!
This is a nice cover. . .
The Downward spiral
The trick is not let it snowball with extra thoughts. Anger can turn into a tantrum very quickly if you are not careful. Sadness can deepen without the proper checks in place.
By extra thoughts, I mean stories that you tell yourself in which you try to explain why you feel the way you do. I would describe this as an “unhelpful thought spiral.” Here would be an example:
“I’m feeling sad. I think I’m sad because I got yelled at last night at work, even though it wasn’t my fault. It was that b*tch Veronica’s fault, for telling everyone about my secret. If she hadn’t told them, then I never would have got upset and cursed out those customers. . .”
The previous statements may or may not be made up of facts, but it would definitely not be helpful to dwell on them. Instead, I recommend sticking with the first part, “I feel sad.”
From “I feel sad,” take some deep breaths. Where do you feel sad? Do you feel sad in your chest, your stomach, your arms, or your head? Is it a heavy sadness? A hazy sadness? Really experience it, become one with it.
A funny thing happens when you embrace your sadness. You realize that sadness is not so very. . .sad. If you actually sit with your sadness, you may even notice that your it has its own sort of unique beauty.
Do you ever watch a movie that makes you cry, and you’re kind of relieved to shed some tears? That’s because sadness is a part of the complete human experience. It has a texture and a flavor unlike anything else. Being happy is great, but happiness without sadness is like cream cheese without a bagel to put it on.
Happiness and sadness balance each other out, much like dinner and dessert. Sweets are very satisfying, but only as a complement to something hearty and substantial.
“Hello, old friend”
The worst thing about sadness is actually not the sadness itself: it’s the fear of feeling sad! We think, “I don’t want to feel this way! this is so terrible! Will this last forever?” And the spiral begins. We get ourselves worked up, and we miss out on one of the most fundamental experiences we can have.
Sadness need not be viewed as an enemy; it is a part of you. When it comes, welcome it in. Serve it some tea. Then, when it’s time and you’ve had enough, gently walk it to the door. You are in control, and you can decide to feel your feelings whenever you feel like it.
By not rejecting your sadness, you are not rejecting yourself! Take some deep breaths, and remember: crying is a release of stress, just like laughing. So when those tears come, let ‘em roll.
This song makes me really sad but I love it.
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