by: E.B. Johnson
It can be hard not to feel sad in the complex and difficult world we’re living in. Things seem tough, and they’re not made any better by the plethora of personal struggles we’re working through. Sadness starts to feel like a way of life when you’re dealing with mental struggles, disjointed relationships, or even a lack of vision. In order to get back to the top, though, we have to work past these challenges and find better ways to take responsibility for our joy.
Has your life become overwhelmed by continual feelings of sadness? Can you feel yourself tipping into darkness? Or sliding toward something more serious? You need to take charge of your emotions and find more effective ways to reshape and replace your sadness. To do this, you need to heap compassion over yourself, though, and commit to standing up and taking action in the name of your own happiness. Sadness can become a way of life, but it doesn’t have to be that way forever. You can get back to that center of peace and contentment that you were always meant to dwell in.
Sadness is a part of life.
As humans, we have a wide array of complex emotions which can overwhelm us and empower us — depending on how we choose to view them and use them. While some emotions are more positive than others, all have important lessons to teach us and important insight to provide when we learn how to pay attention. This process can be uncomfortable, though, and requires us to dig deep in order to work through the pain and difficulty we’re facing.
Sadness is a part of life. Whether it comes from a place of grief and loss, or it comes from a place of frustration and upset — it brings with it invaluable lessons on what matters most. We have to embrace our sadness. We have to look beneath the discomfort it offers and find the greater perspective that it offers.
Accept your sadness for what it is. We all find ourselves struggling in this life. No one gets through without facing challenges and hardship of some sort, which tests them and drives them to become something better than they were. When we embrace our emotions, they can empower us to form new visions of the future and new ideas on self. Embrace the impermanence of your emotions and take responsibility for your happiness. Then you’ll realize you always have the power to overcome the darkness.
Some of the reasons you’re feeling so sad.
As humans, we have an array of emotions which are highly nuanced and complex. Among these is sadness, which we perceive as a negative emotion and which brings us a great deal of discomfort. There are so many lessons we can learn from our sadness, though. But first we must understand where it’s coming from.
In order to feel happy and content with our lives, we have to build environments which authentically match who we are. When you are living a life that isn’t aligned to your true values, emotions, and needs, you start battling with a loss of identity. This serious misalignment leads to a sort of grief which undermines our self-esteem and erodes the trust we place in ourselves and our needs.
Mental and physical illness
Untreated mental and physical illness goes a long way to feed the sense of sadness we feel. Pervasive sadness can be a sign you’re dealing with depression, seasonal affective disorder, or a number of other mental health issues that you never considered before. On the other side, our physical health also informs our emotions. Thyroid problems, chronic stress, low immune function, low vitamin D, imbalanced hormones all contribute to feelings of sadness or unease.
While our relationships don’t define our happiness, they can certainly be a contributing factor behind it. As humans, we are social creatures and we like having friends and intimate partners we can be vulnerable with. When you have a lack of support system, or there’s a lot of loneliness in your life, it can result in sadness that’s overwhelming at times. Likewise, if your current relationships are disjointed and fraught with tension, it can result in serious personal unhappiness.
Modern life and society is complex, and the issues we are facing within these societies are even more complex and nuanced. Complex life doesn’t make for an easygoing journey. There are a lot of moving pieces and different paths we can take. When you get our emotions involved, tensions (and sadness) can run high. By simplifying our lives and getting away from the crazy — and back into the things which matter — we actually discover greater happiness and fulfillment in our lives.
Like it or not, money is an important part of our society and the ways in which we live our lives. It determines the quality of life we live, the quality of education our children receive. There is literally no aspect of our lives that is not touched by money, so when you don’t have it life becomes a struggle. Living with the day-to-day knowledge that you’re working yourself to the bone for “not enough” can work against your mental health and create a pervasive sense of sadness that permeates everything else in your life.
Loss of a loved one
There is nothing that can prepare you for the loss of a loved one. Even when you think you are prepared, you aren’t. The sadness that follows the passing of a parent, spouse, or child is one which absorbs every inch of who we are. It comes and goes in ebbs and flows. One day you will be fine, and the next day your sadness will overtake you like a tidal wave. There’s no real way to overcome this grief. The only thing you can do is ride it out.
Many of us are brought up on strange ideas of happiness and how to achieve it. For some, you were probably taught that happiness looks like a marriage and 2.5 kids. For others, perhaps you got taught that a bank-breaking career was the only way to find joy. These mindsets are warped. True happiness comes from figuring out who you are and then aligning the action you take every day with that person. Negative self-talk and warped views will lead you right into the heart of sadness.
Building a life that brings us happiness and fulfillment is contingent upon having a vision which aligns to our values and our needs. When you suffer from a lack of vision, direction, or drive, it can beat you down and cause you to end up stuck or otherwise trapped in a place where you don’t belong. In order to get ourselves back on top, we have to take responsibility for our happiness and create a plan of action which empowers us to change our lives.
How to deal with strong feelings of sadness.
Everyone experiences strong feels of sadness from time-to-time. While some may succumb to the temptation to numb their pain or run away, others know that the only way to solve their grief is to work through it. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. If you want to thrive, take responsibility for your own happiness.
1. Start with a dose of acceptance
Like it or not, you won’t be able to shift your happiness until you find the strength to stand tall and face it. This requires that you honestly question your emotions and the root causes behind them. Once you’ve accepted where you’re at with your feelings (and your life), you can get more realistic about looking forward and creating plans which bring you authentic joy.
Allow yourself to be sad. Stop running from your feelings and stop trying to numb them. They will always be there waiting for you, and they will out themselves through your behavior and your decisions whether you realize it or not. Accept the feeling and work through it. The only way out is through.
Know that working through your sadness will be painful, but it will not the lethal. Holding on to the darkness, however, that can be lethal. The stress of toxic emotions eats us alive from the inside out and takes a genuine toll on our physical and emotional health. By holding on to your sadness and burying it away, you’re introducing more stress into your system and into your life.
2. Reach out when things get serious
While sadness is a natural emotion to everyone, it can morph into (or be a symptom of) something far more serious. Ignoring your sadness isn’t just a sign of insecurity — it’s reckless. You may be in a downward spiral mentally or emotionally without even realizing it. That’s why it’s so important to reach out and speak to people you can trust when things get serious.
Look for trusted friends or family members who you can open up to. Explain how you’re feeling and why (if you know it). Give them a glimpse into your emotional state. Then sit back and see what perspective they can offer you. The people we love can be an invaluable source of inspiration when we’re feeling down.
If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to someone close to you, you can reach out to a mental health professional. There’s no such thing as “taboos” anymore when it comes to therapy and speaking to experts. We can all benefit from a third party perspective when it comes to shifting our emotions. Don’t wallow in a place you don’t have to be. Open up and seek help before sadness turns into something far more sinister.
3. Question the bigger picture
Context is everything when it comes to seeing our emotions for what they really are and learning the lessons they have to offer. Negative emotions like sadness, however, have a tendency to pull us down to their level; making it impossible to see where we truly are. We have to pull back from our sadness and detach from it, so that we can question it and come to understand the bigger picture.
Where do the roots of your sadness run? Are they related strictly to the material woes you’re dealing with in your everyday life? Do they come as a result of untreated mental illness, or relationships that are fraught with struggle and miscommunication?
Question your sadness from every angle. Question it until there’s no more digging to do. Once you’ve hit the bottom, you can look at the core reasons for your negative emotions and come up with realistic solutions for managing them. Failing to question your sadness leaves you in a state of free-fall with it, which leaves you no choice but to react, rather than thinking things through.
4. Embrace the impermanence of it all
One of the most powerful ways to deal with your sadness is by embracing the ultimate impermanence of it all. There is nothing in this life that lasts “forever”. We are born, we die. Like seasons we change and our lives change constantly around us. What makes us sad now won’t make us sad forever, and the sooner we embrace this central truth — the freer we become.
Look at your sadness. Face it as though it were a human being and face it with compassion. Open your arms to it and know that it’s cold or uncomfortable embrace will only last for a short time. It’s a passing moment in your life. You won’t be sad forever, no matter how dark things seem now.
Everyone is capable of transforming their lives. Everyone is capable of packing a metaphorical bag and setting out to start over as a new person with a new direction on life. Let your sadness come to you, then let it go. Thank it for the lessons that it has and know that it wouldn’t be in your life is there wasn’t also great love and appreciation lurking there too.
5. Take responsibility for your happiness
Many of us have warped views on happiness, and a warped understanding of how it comes into our lives. We look to others to provide us with meaning. We look to them to fill us with joy and with confidence. We are the only ones, however, who can provide those things for ourselves. Our happiness doesn’t lie in the hands of other people or the material goods they provide for us — it lies in the core of who we are as a person.
Stop allowing sadness to control your life. Break out of the downward spiral and accept responsibility for the course of your future. What vision do you have for yourself? Where do you want to be in 10 or 20 years from now? You can have all those things, but you must first decide to take action in the name of them.
Look for small, directed action you can take every day which leads you closer to your happiness. Wake up in the morning and name 3 things you’re going to do for yourself and your future. You don’t have to make massive strides. You just have to take small steps every day. Nourish your body and your soul. Surround yourself with people of like mind and like drive. Conquer your fears by standing in the light of your truth. Take the reins of your life and steer toward happiness.
Putting it all together…
Are you dealing with suppressing feelings of sadness? Does it seem like the darkness is going to overwhelm you? There are a number of reasons we can find ourselves struggling in this life. From the loss of a loved one, to financial struggles and a warped mindset — our sadness comes from many places, but it can only be solved by one person: Us.
Start by accepting your emotions for what they truly are. You can’t run from your sadness. You can only deal with it. If the darkness seems too deep, reach out to someone you love or a mental health expert you can trust. Share how you’re feeling and look to them to provide you with a different perspective on your emotions and how you can improve them. Dig deeper. Get to the root of your sadness by questioning it and the lessons it has to offer you. Once you’ve gotten to the bottom of things, you can find real solutions for getting yourself back on track to happiness. You have to embrace the impermanence of it all, however, and the responsibility you bear when it comes to creating a life that is authentically aligned with your values and your needs.