We feel sad for a reason, why do we try and fight off the feeling when we could embrace the meaning?
Smile, buck up, cheer up, lift that chin, there’s no need to be down, things will be better, you’ll see. Why is it I am not allowed to be sad? What is it about sadness that makes everyone turn away and request you make yourself happy while you’re in their presence? It’s a feeling, or more precisely it’s my feeling, who are you to tell me I can’t feel sad. I feel things for a reason and denying those feelings can not only be painful but downright hazardous to my health. We feel sad because we lose something, we can be sad because we grieve the loss of a friend, a loved one, or even just miss a distant friend. We can lose our dreams, our goals or our aims. We can lose time, time to be happy, time for better things or time for those things and people we love.
Sadness is the minds way of coping with change, coping with the fact the world shifted on us and we need to adjust to the way things are now. When you tell me to be happy you are telling me to either live in the past or ignore the fact I’m on an unfamiliar path through life, that I should just be able to cope. Sorry not me, you see when I’m sad I own it, it’s my feeling, my signpost telling me I just changed directions. I’m not going to live in the past, forget the past or just ignore my life changed. No, not me. I’m going deep into the depths of sadness and find out why I have this feeling.
The sadness from grief can be especially tough, tough for the person grieving and tough for those in that person’s life. When we lose someone through death, breakup or distance we have a hole in our heart where a person used to be. The sadness from grief is twofold, it’s a sadness of the person we now miss and it’s a sadness of the connection we need to replace or fill in. Being sad when grieving gives us the space in our minds to remember what was once there, to lock it in and say this person was important to me. Without that sadness those old memories would fade all the sooner.
The sadness from the loss of what that person meant to you is a signpost that a vital connection needs to be filled. It tells us that new friends need to be made, that the role that person filled in your life needs to be repaired and either you need to become more self-sufficient or that role should be replaced. Allowing yourself to be sad allows you to identify those roles and needs that are now missing. Yet more often than not those who could step up and help fill at least some of those needs step back and ask us to be happy. Don’t listen to those who step back, own your sadness and use it to find the holes in your heart so they can be repaired.
Too often the things we seek become unattainable. We have a plan, a goal, a vision or a dream and whoosh; in an instant it is gone. Your lose your job or fail to get that promotion, your car needs repairs and your holiday funds are gone, or simply something you wanted becomes unattainable and there is nothing you can do to change that fact. This sadness is telling you that you need a new goal, a new dream and what you are doing now, well it won’t work going forward. Take the time to be sad, take the time to work out why that dream was important and take the time to dream of other glories. Use your sadness to find out how you need to change, find out what parts of yourself are locked on what was dreamt before so it can be repointed at a new goal. Don’t lose your dedication and persistence, own your sadness, your dedication and persistence need a new plan so dive into sadness and find new dreams worth fighting for.
Sometimes instead of silver linings all we feel are the thunderbolts. Harsh blow after harsh blow rains down upon us and there is nothing we can do. Bad luck, misfortune or even acts of god and we lose the time we had reserved for other, better things trying to cope with all that’s going wrong. We lose the time we should be spending with friends, the time we could be experiencing the wonders of the world and we lose time to rebuilding the things we already had. Use your sadness, it’s time to take stock and look at the things you want to spend time on. Those are the things worth rebuilding for, those are the things worth aiming for, and those are the things that make all the bad luck in the world bearable because one day you hope to spend time on those things again. Don’t lose the things most important to you, own your sadness because once you know what these things are then when the lightning stops you know exactly what you should be doing.
So own your sadness, don’t try and be happy for others, it’s not worth it. Sadness is one of the greatest tools we have been given, if we use it correctly. Every time you embrace your sadness you enter into a phase where the things which are important, the things that matter, the parts of yourself you need to repair are revealed. Sadness gives you the opportunity to grow stronger, to gain more connections, to become more resilient and to take stock of the world around you and say “OK, the world changed and I need to be over there now”. Own your sadness otherwise you will become locked in the past unable to accept the world as it is; or lost in a future in which you can’t adapt to.
Own it – sadness is yours for a reason.
Photo: Getty Images
*A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. Although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. The Modern Minstrel observes the world around him and shares it with us as lyrical story. This series was inspired by Luke Davis, whose eye for story and ear for lyrical prose are featured here.
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