Sadness, grief, depression: the three worst feelings to experience.
I could go on for paragraphs describing how it feels to be sad. I know a lot about the feelings, I experience them regularly. Sometimes it's a struggle for me to get out of bed in the morning and keep going. This letter isn't about how bad it feels, or how I know I'll probably never fully escape it. This letter is about how to flip your perspective of feeling sad and make something productive come out of it. That's a huge claim, I know it is. It works, because it's helped more than just me. Like all things worthwhile, rethinking your grief isn't easy, and it takes work for it to become a habit.
Consider the balance of life. Everything has balance. Even balance has to balance itself by going out of balance every now and again. If you were felt excitement every moment of every day, you wouldn't be excited anymore. Our bodies get used to things if they happen constantly and need more to notice it. It's why some people need three cups of coffee to get going in the morning. They didn't start off by drinking three cups. They started with one, and gradually they needed more. It's the same with feelings. You need to experience the bad feelings to appreciate the good ones.
Many people hold the belief that when you're feeling sad, the best thing to do is just keep going. Essentially ignore the sadness and keep your head down and get your mind off it. Sure. They're not wrong, it's definitely one way to deal with things. But all you're doing is putting the feelings on the back-burner. They don't really go away, they just get forgotten and you can only stack so many things to the side before they fall on you. This is where mindfulness can come in to help.
A powerful method, and one that I often use, to dealing with sadness is to spend time with it. Experience your sadness; love it, even. Get to know why you feel the way you do because that's how you get to understand yourself. Understanding and knowing yourself is so important to growth because it's how you figure out what works best with you. The better you understand yourself, the better your life will be because you'll automatically know what you need for your own success.
So this mindfulness, how does it work?
Well, you'll know when you're sad. Or you will at least know you don't feel right. Mindfulness is being aware of your current state. So when that happens, ask yourself some of the following questions:
- What am I feeling?
- Why am I feeling this way?
- What has put me in this mood?
- Why does that bother me?
- How can I remove or greatly reduce that from my life?
- How can I reframe this situation?
- What can I do to help myself feel better?
- What can I do to avoid getting in this situation?
A few years ago, I went through a difficult relationship that ended in a nasty breakup. There were so many points in the relationship where I felt helpless, stuck, and straight up sad. After we split up I felt very sad so I asked myself why I felt that way. The answer was that I didn't want to be alone. I called my friend later on and asked to get together and we spent a lot more time together. I started to become more proactive in seeing my friends and eventually, after some time being around other people I cared about, I felt that I'd moved on. It took a long time, but I found out that despite being introverted, I really do love being around people when I have the opportunity to be. It ended up being a big step in a journey I take every time I'm sad. I ask myself why, and begin questioning my thoughts from there. I always end up finding some answers.
You already know all the answers to your problems, but our brains cloud up when we're feeling extreme emotions like joy, excitement, or grief. You just have to dig a little and ask the right questions to find your answers. This all allows you to confront your problems and get to the source. Once you know the source, you'll have an easier time fixing the problem and even preventing it from happening again.
So stay with your bad thoughts. It's very uncomfortable at the start and it will take a lot of work to become okay with facing your thoughts and feelings like that. Stay strong and face them because it's a powerful way to grow into a happier, mentally healthier person. The things worth having in life are the hardest to get, and mental strength is one of the most important strengths to have.
What do you do when you're sad? How do you make yourself feel better?