Commercials, movies and social media all surround us with smiling faces and positive attitudes. As we're bombarded with these images over time, they can inadvertently become the standard we feel compelled to aspire to.
There's certainly nothing wrong with wearing a smile and having a positive attitude, but what happens when you're struggling to get through a difficult time and feeling sad? Can you overcome those sad feelings by putting on a smile and forcing yourself to adopt a positive attitude?
Attempting to overcome your feelings of sadness (or any feelings, for that matter) by ignoring them, stuffing them, or minimizing them rarely works. More importantly, when you cast your feelings of sadness aside, you're sending a message to yourself that it's wrong to feel sad, and that the feeling of sadness is some kind of aberration from what's normal. Taken to an extreme, you may even view the feeling of sadness as some kind of moral failing.
Feeling sad occasionally is normal.
In reality, there's nothing wrong, unusual or abnormal about feeling sad from time to time. It's one of many feelings that we can expect to experience in life, and it's as normal and as valid as the feeling of happiness.
When we accept the feeling of sadness as normal, there's no longer any pressure to hide it or dismiss it. Instead of getting tangled up in shame around our sadness, we can acknowledge it and allow it to run its course.
Different degrees of discomfort in sadness.
As sadness runs its course, the degree of discomfort will be unique to each person and their situation. Sadness in response to minor events will likely be mild, dissipating quickly. Major events like the end of a relationship, an illness, or an accident, will lead to more intense levels of sadness.
And as anyone who has been through it can attest to, the pain and sense of loss associated with grief can fill us with a sadness so great, it's overwhelming at times, making us question whether or not we'll emerge from it intact.
Sadness forces us to stop and take notice.
When sadness interrupts our life, it forces us to stop for moment and take notice. What has happened? Why are we feeling this way?
The reason for our sadness may be obvious and straightforward; or we may have to uncover a few layers to get to the heart of what's really affecting us. We might be feeling sad due to a momentary upset, and able to turn things around simply by shifting our focus. Or, we may be dealing with something more substantial, where we have no choice but to wait things out as we allow body, mind and heart to gradually regain their equilibrium.
What do your body, mind and soul need?
If your tendency is to panic when you find yourself feeling sad, remind yourself that these feelings are normal. Rather than fighting the feelings or trying to cover them up with an artificial veneer of positivity, relax with the feelings and simply accept them as a stage you're passing through.
Be patient with yourself, giving yourself time to work through the feelings, and take notice of what your body, mind, and soul are most in need of.
You might be someone who benefits from invigorating, energizing activities as you work through a time of sadness. Or, you might gravitate towards calm, peaceful, relaxing activities that allow you to conserve energy. Some people might want company; others may prefer a bit of solitude.
How ever you choose to respond to your sadness, remember that what you are experiencing is a normal and natural part of life. When we relinquish the misguided notion that we should feel happy and positive every moment of every day, our sadness becomes less threatening and much easier to manage.
Important! Don't confuse sadness and depression.
Occasional sadness is normal and temporary; whereas depression is a mental illness that that persists over time. While it might not be pleasant, sadness is a feeling that can be readily managed as an aspect of one's life. Depression is far more debilitating, threatening to take over and control one's life.
If you find yourself struggling with depression, seek out appropriate support. If you are in distress or crisis, contact emergency services for immediate help.
Image Credits: Beautiful-Moments from Pixabay
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