Are you scared to feel sad?

Uncategorized Jul 15, 2020

One day, when I was in high school, I made an important discovery. I was on my bed, crying dramatically about something (perhaps I just got dumped, or cut from a sports team, or my souffle had fallen). There was sobbing, flailing, tears streaming, when all of a sudden, I noticed that there was something positively delicious about being sad.

Have you ever noticed that allowing yourself to fully experience sadness feels really, really good?

If not, maybe you’ve been too scared to feel sad and you haven’t received the pleasure that’s hidden in sadness. 

Here’s the thing about uncomfortable emotions like sadness. We spend a lot of energy avoiding them or suppressing them and so we’re never really able to receive the full benefits.

All emotions are valuable and have a purpose. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t exist.

Sadness is worth embracing for the following reasons:

1. A function of sadness is connection (as was brilliantly illustrated in the movie Inside Out). When a baby cries, it’s a signal that another human being is required, pronto. If a child is sad, the natural response is to offer comfort with a hug, or some soothing words.

So what happens with adults who get sad? Instead of seeking connection and comfort, we’ve been taught either to not feel sad at all, or to hide it. You don’t outgrow the need for connection. If you’re feeling sad, it’s a sure sign that you need to reach out, not hide in a dark room in a fetal position.

2. Here’s another fascinating aspect of sadness. It will be revealed to you after you answer this question: what kind of energy does sadness have? (Insert Jeopardy tune while you determine your answer.)

When I think of the energy of sadness, it feels heavy. Think of typical sad body posture. Shoulders hunched, spine curled, body contracted, head hung low… (like the pillow girl up there) All of those natural responses indicate heaviness, right?

We’ve been taught that heaviness is negative, but that’s just not true. Here’s what the energy of sadness is actually trying to convey to you (for a moment I’m going to change into sadness and tell you what’s happening).  

A Public Service Announcement from Sadness

 Hi there, I’m Sadness and here’s what I want you to know. If you’re feeling sad, it’s a sign that you’re too much in your head. You’re thinking too much! You’re too attached to your same-old same-old story. I’m giving you a very obvious clue with the heaviness thing… it’s time to get into your body. Staying in your head and thinking all those thoughts over and over is a recipe for endless suffering. I’m trying to get your attention to tell you to come into your body. You need more grounding energy! My friend Christina will now tell you how to do that. 

Thank you Sadness. That’s so good to know.

Important Point:

I’m not telling you to avoid feeling sad. What you want to do is the complete opposite, which is to embrace the sadness (and any other unpleasant feeling that shows up). Although you may think that embracing sadness would be way more painful than not feeling it, you would be wrong. Embracing sadness actually lets it know that it’s been acknowledged and then it’s free to move on its way. 

Emotions are like 2 year olds. They just want your attention. Here’s how you pay full attention. 


Emotion Embracing Instructions

  1. Notice the emotion, using language like “I’m feeling _____ (in this case, sad).
  2. Notice where in your body the sadness is showing up as a sensation. It will be a sensation like tightness, heaviness, denseness, pain, tingling, etc.
  3. Keep your attention on the sensation for several moments. When your mind wanders, bring it back. All it wants to do is think the same old thoughts which will perpetuate your suffering. Be strong with your mind. It’s designed to be really good at focusing on sensation. 
  4. Take some clearing breaths, imagining the energy sweeping up the sensations in the area you were just focusing on. It would be like a wave collecting seashells on the beach; the breath is the wave and the seashells are the sensations.
  5. For optimal deliciousness, do some movement or dancing to help move the energy through.

That is how you embrace an emotion. 

So you see, it’s good to feel sad. You don’t need to fear it. Embracing sadness will bring more connection, love and energy into your life. 

And by the way, if you’re scared to feel any of the uncomfortable emotions, then you have something going on with fear, which is another very worthwhile emotion to embrace. Simply use the emotion embracing instructions to move through the fear rather than get paralyzed.

One more cool thing about sadness before we part ways: the Ancient Romans considered tears to be creative energy. There’s a lot of value to a good cry. It feels good, you’re letting emotions move through AND, you’re on the verge of creating something new. See? Embracing sadness is a win-win-win!

I hope this message served you and that you’ll explore a new way of showing up when sadness comes to call. 

With beams of love and waves of courage,