The Importance of Sadness
I am sad. Not because my dog died. I don’t even have a dog. Not because I burned my grilled cheese. Although I did. Not because I just remember that someone called me a booger face in 3rd grade. Though that person was a real jerk. No outside influences have made me sad. Sadness is just my default state of being. But that doesn’t mean I can’t feel other emotions. I can feel a wide range of emotions but sadness is the one I feel most often.
I have depression. I have had depression my entire life. I only recently found out that my sadness is because of the way my brain is wired. I also only recently learned that not everyone feels sadness most of the time. I always assumed that the way I felt was normal and that most people are just faking happy. I still kind of think that is true but I have met more than a few people who seems to be generally happy with themselves and their life.
The thing is, I like sadness. I know that most people work their entire lives to avoid feeling sad but I have developed such a close connection to this one emotion that has overridden most of my life that I have learned to love it, to see the beauty and depth in it, to appreciate it for what it can provide. Sadness, the state of feeling sad, not true depression (no that is another beast that we will discuss later) but just that humdrum overarching feeling that life is meaningless in its chaos and no matter how hard we try to improve ourselves we will never quite be where we want to be, can sound like an awful feeling and really it is but if you take time to sit with this kind of sadness to allow it to exist and to allow it to have a voice, then you can admit what most people are too afraid to really give a voice to. Because really if you get right down to it … Life is meaningless and we will never really get where we want to be. And as truly reverse and perverse it sounds it is not until we can fully accept and embrace this truth that we can honestly become what it is we want to truly be and work to assign meaning to our own lives.
We need to embrace this darkness in order to really see and appreciate the light that our lives contain. It sounds messed up I know but people that avoid feeling sad are far worse off than people that embrace sadness, give it a space to breath, but then work towards the joy that we all desire.
This is why the movie Inside Out is so brilliant. The character Joy finds Sadness to be obnoxious and generally pointless and does everything in her power to keep Sadness out of the way. It isn’t until the end of the film that Spoilers she realizes Sadness had a place and a very profound and important purpose for Riley to be able to cope with what has happened and begin to heal her life. (Honestly this moment gets me weeping openly every single time) It is a simple and yet incredibly brilliant message that I wonder how many adults are fully aware of. I am grateful though that children are being taught the importance of feeling sadness. But also the importance of our emotion working together. Because I can speak from personal experience that when Sadness takes over and controls all of our actions that is no place from which to grow or heal.
It’s a delicate balance and it’s messy work. But do not keep sadness locked away. Learn to embrace it for what it is. Learn to listen to the lessons it is trying to teach you. Then kindly and graciously send it on it’s way when you are ready to move forward. This is the part I personally struggle with the most because I have depression. But I am working on it and I try hard every day to send Sadness away even of for a moment. And those moments are wonderful. If I have ever been with you and expressed even a shade of joy please know that that is no small thing and I appreciate you a great deal. I am capable of feeling joy. I am capable of feeling anger and all the other nuanced emotions most humans possess. I don’t claim to have the right frame of mind or that I am in any way healthy. But I have learned that embracing sadness is important and the more we as a society can give credence to this notion the healthier we will become and the more we can focus on appreciating the joys both large and small that the world has to offer.
Now if you’ll excuse me I am going to go have myself a good cry.