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Sadness: A Necessary Part of Your Spiritual Journey

Updated on April 9, 2013

Perpetual Happiness Is Not an Attainable Goal

A friend who is going through the ending of a relationship recently confided in me: “I thought that when I began adhering to this new age way of life, I would feel happy all the time.” So many people feel this way when they set out on a new spiritual path, whether they begin attending church, studying with a Zen master, or doing yoga. After the initial “high” of your newfound path wears off, you’re still you, and you still have all of the same problems and issues you had before. In fact, they may even seem worse because now they’re such a stark contrast to how you feel when you’re in your happy place.

Contrary to what some popular new age authors will have you believe, we are not meant to float around on a happy cloud all the time. Chanting affirmations and thinking positive thoughts can be life-changing, but they only work if you’re willing to work, i.e., look at the deep-seated beliefs that are holding you back from experiencing a joyful life. For example, if you have trouble earning enough money to make ends meet, no amount of abundance affirmations will bring more money to you until you understand why you’re blocking the flow in the first place. Did you grow up hearing, “We can’t afford that” or "We're poor" from your parents? Did you have a teacher who told you that the most you can aspire to is a minimum wage job? These incidents from childhood shape our beliefs and hold us back from achieving our full potential.

Releasing Negative Beliefs

So how do you take these old beliefs that no longer serve you and transform them into something positive and healthy? The hard part is identifying these beliefs, which can take a lot of soul-searching, remembering painful events from your past, and yes—feeling sad. You cannot change your life for the better by denying the pain you feel. Even when you’re putting on a happy face, the sadness lurks beneath the surface, and you’re still feeling it whether you acknowledge it or not. If you take a deep breath and face the pain head-on, allowing yourself to feel every excruciating particle of it as it washes over you, you can finally be done with it. You may have one negative belief surrounding a particular issue or ten beliefs. The key is to be honest with yourself and work hard to identify them all.

Once you’ve identified a limiting belief and allowed yourself to feel it, you need to surrender it. Borrowing a bit from AA, A Course in Miracles, and various other spiritual texts, I surrender to a higher power. I acknowledge that my way of doing things hasn’t gotten me very far, and now I’m ready to allow God’s (insert your higher power of choice here) plan to take over. It goes something like this: “God, I have a belief that ________. This belief does not serve me anymore, and I am ready to turn it over to you. Please take that belief and transform it to a positive belief that will change my life for the better.”

The Universe Is Your Mirror

Your issues will not turn around instantly when you perform this ritual, but look for little clues that a change is taking place. Everything in your life is a reflection of what is going on inside of you. When I started surrendering my money issues to God, I began finding coins on the ground and receiving money from people who owed me. Moneymaking opportunities showed up out of nowhere.

Completely releasing a belief can take days or weeks, but you’ll know when you’re done. You’ll feel lighter. You’ll feel a sense of trust that the universe will take care of your needs without your having to control every little detail. Remember: we come into this life to experience the full range of emotions and learn lessons for the evolution of the soul, so you’ll never completely escape sadness. However, the pervasive sadness that stems from old negative beliefs can be a thing of the past when you are willing to do the work.

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