Feeling Sadness: Creating Space to Heal.
Sadness is an emotion that any human and likely every other being on this planet experiences. To most, including myself, the feeling of sadness is an emotional experience that would rather not be had than had.
Either way feeling sadness is immensely important for adapting to our lives in responsible and healthy ways. Here is a take on getting the most of it.
What is Sadness.
As far as the physiological processes in the brain and body in regards to sadness I do not know. What I do know is the way the emotion feels, when I am actively working with it. I also know the stress I feel when I am distracting myself from it.
Sadness in my mind is inextricably linked to the experience of loss. That loss may be because of a change in relationship with loved ones, deaths, crushed hopes and expectations. As well as seeing the hardships of those we love and even strangers. It is an essential piece in the grieving process. Sometimes the source of the sadness is clearly seen. But just as often for me I can’t tell why the sadness is present.
This emotion is not to be confused with depression, even though persistent feelings of sadness are a definite symptom for a depressed individual. No, sadness is it’s own beautiful, sometimes pain in the ass experience. It is a normal human response to undesired change. ACTUALLY feeling this emotion has been pivotal in recovering my life.
Sadness allows connection to the moment by letting go of what is no longer real, or what no longer can safely be continued. It requires surrendering our thoughts about how our realities should be so we can see how they actually are. This process may range from aggravatingly painful to eerily enjoyable. But even though the process can be painful, the pain of unproductive stress and extra life problems of fighting it is much greater.
For me there is no responsible adaptation to change without letting go and allowing myself to be vulnerable to feeling sad. Without feeling our sadness there is no healing, there is no healthy grieving. Which inevitably leaves us with unfinished emotional business to deal with later down the road of our lives.
The Relationship Between Sadness and Anger.
The relationship between sadness and anger can make surrendering to sadness tricky. It sometimes seems as if the two emotions don’t get to be in the same room together. Though at a closer look a healthy relationship can be had between one another.
The emotion of anger is an energy that compels us to make creative action happen. We can do this in healthy ways, or not so healthy ways. Depending on how much emotional pain is involved, ability to cope, and willingness to bend the rules of society.
Anger is also a protector, it protects hopes, expectations, our bodies, our self-image, and of course our relationships. If any of these is harmed, pain is felt and our anger seeks to rectify the situation. Sometimes the use of anger can be productive in bringing about a positive outcome. Though other times we can take it too far, causing even more pain to be felt once we slow down and reconnect with our saner selves.
To feel sadness is to be processing this emotional pain. But even though this process that heals the pain can be mistaken as the source of the pain itself. So our anger may end up protecting us from our own healing process. The truth is that the pain was already present, and probably fueling all sorts of unproductive anger, fear, and resentment.
Sadness is the experience that creates healing. The healthy relationship between anger and sadness is developed when we can teach ourselves to not use our anger to run from our pain. And learn to use our anger to set healthy boundaries to create a safe space for the healing process to work it’s magic.
Important Things to Remember When Surrendering to Healing Sadness.
When surrendering into our sadness there are all sorts of things that make it difficult. To make sure we are able to convince ourselves and our anger that it is okay to let go there are some important things to remind ourselves of.
1. This Emotion isn’t Going to Feel Itself.
Putting off feeling our emotions has negative consequences for all aspects of our health. We may try to convince ourselves that we are okay without feeling this uncomfortable thing. It’s as if we think the emotion will magically take care of itself. It will take care of itself but not until we sit with it and allow it to process. Only we can set aside the time and find a safe place, only we can let our sadness heal the broken pieces.
2. We are Safe.
Of course there are individuals in the world that are literally fighting physical safety almost all the time. For me and most likely many of you reading this, there are plenty of safe places to get to.
Our brains may be convinced that surrendering to the moment isn’t the safe thing to do. It would rather have our head on a swivel, paying attention to every other thing in our minds or surroundings. Sometimes our brains need to do this. But we cannot go on like this for too long, the internal consequences from neglected feelings is too great. But the only way to settle the brain down is to convince it that this moment is safe and we can let go.
Even though allowing sadness allows the feeling of pain. The source of the pain is likely long gone in the past. When feeling gets rough, I remind myself that this moment is not trying to harm me and that feeling this emotion is only going to bring a better life.
3. The World can Take Care of Itself for a little bit.
There are many responsibilities in living a productive life. I know this now more than ever with a new mortgage and a 7 month old beautiful girl. But even when in a position to not have to take care of these relationships, my mind still does it. All these responsibilities can become a distraction in the moments that we should be allowing ourselves time to heal.
What I tell myself in these moments is that these relationships are safe without me for a moment. This is my time to heal and make sure I am in the best possible health for them in the long run.
4. Feeling is Not Weakness.
There is a strength that comes from feeling our emotions that cannot be gotten anywhere else. Feeling emotion provides mental and emotional flexibility. It allows us to not snap when the littlest things in our lives don’t go our way.
Many of us spend years running from feeling, this to me is the true weakness. Settling in and confronting the emotional pain in ourselves is courageous, not weak.
5. It is Okay to Cry and Okay to not Cry.
There is an immensely important quality in allowing tears to happen. But this is not to say that tears need to be had to feel emotion.
I am the kind of person that can get emotion out in this way privately. Other people are much more open with their tears than I am. Whatever way you find to get some tears out, as long as it isn’t hurting ourselves or others, is cool in my book.
So dudes, you aren’t a punk if you let a few tears out!
Allowing ourselves to feel sad can be an incredibly difficult thing to do. Surrendering to sadness can feel like giving up. And in a sense it is.
Surrendering to feeling our sadness is giving up what isn’t real, it is giving up trying to control what we cannot. It is also our healthy way into finding out what we can control and what is real.
I don’t know about you but I have spent far too many moment running from reality. It angers me to know how much energy I have wasted protecting myself from my healing process. This anger is good though, I can use it to be a loving but stern voice as I attempt to run away from myself in the future. I get to use it to help me grow.
I invite you to do the same. If you are caught up in anger, or finding other ways to numb yourself from emotion, please stop. Set aside some time, create a sacred space to do some feeling. You will not regret it.
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Much Love, Travis Hagen
My Life Experiment
Hello, we are Travis and Casey Hagen the writer's and owner's of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds to find healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. There is plenty for us to share with you about finding better ways to live. So please follow us on our journey as we share what we know, and continue to share as we invitably learn more.
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