I recently had a client ask, “Why do I need to feel sad anyway?”
Cue my lecture on emotions:
Because emotions are your experience of life.
Without them, everything would feel, well… flat.
Emotions are a sign that things have meaning.
Feeling sad is a sign that something… such as a beloved person, pet, place, thing… was important, and feeling sad at the loss of it is how we honor it. It shows the impact it had on us.
Does it mean we have to always feel sad?
No, but that moment we take to feel sad… and it’s just a “moment”… about 90 seconds… to truly feel it, and not just skirt around the edges of it… is POWERFUL!
Until we truly honor a loss, the sadness will keep coming back, knocking on our subconscious.
The more we ignore it or push it away and don’t let ourselves feel it… the more we numb it or “buffer” ourselves from it by being busy or distracting ourselves… the less capacity we have to feel ANYTHING, not just sadness.
This is how I define Depression.
Depression isn’t sadness.
- It’s the lack of emotion.
- It’s numbness.
- It’s disinterest.
On the spectrum of emotion between extreme despair and absolute joy… you’ll find depression… smack-dab in the middle.
And that is why we need to feel sad.
So we can also feel JOY… and ANGER… and PEACE… and FEAR… and LOVE… and DISAPPOINTMENT… and ANTICIPATION… and DESIRE… and IRRITATION… All those juicy emotions give our lives meaning.
And at the end of our lives, the moments we remember most are the ones we FELT the most.
So, then, why do we avoid feeling sad if it’s so important?
Somewhere along the line, we were taught not to feel “too sad”.
- Cheer up!
- Don’t cry!
- You’re alright… stop it!
- You’re bringing down the rest of us!
We were also taught not to feel “too happy”.
- You’re such a “Pollyanna”!
- It’s rude to brag!
- How can you be so happy?
- Ugh… “toxic positivity”!
All these signals told us “too much” emotion is a bad thing, so we learned to moderate and temper our feelings.
We learned to feel ashamed if our emotions weren’t “appropriate”.
We learned that showing emotion makes us vulnerable.
We learned we’re supposed to be strong… not waste time feeling sad… we should be grateful, not resentful or regretful.
But I’m here to tell you there are no bad or wrong emotions.
They all serve a purpose and we need to learn to feel them all.
Feeling our emotions is not what causes us to “lose control” of them.
When we resist, push down, and ignore difficult emotions… we lose the ability to feel ALL of our emotions.
When people say to me, “I feel like I have no purpose… my life has no meaning” that’s a clear sign to me that they haven’t been letting themselves feel their emotions.
Working with me, you’ll learn to feel your difficult emotions, process and acknowledge them, and begin experiencing your life again.