You aren’t suffering because you’re sad, you’re suffering because you’re resisting being sad.
Driving home from work on the highway and my vision is blurring, my eyes welling up with water. I seem to zone in and out of a trance as the windscreen wipers move back and forth over the heavy rain falling on the windscreen. An emergency stopping bay is coming up on the left and I think about pulling over and burying my face in the steering wheel to cry, but even that seems like too much effort. Another stopping bay goes by, then another. Stuff it! I couldn’t be bothered anyway, I’ll just keep driving.
This kind of thing doesn’t happen to me as much as it used to, but it does still happen from time to time. I’ve done a lot of work on myself and god knows, I’ve still got a ton of work ahead of me. Sometimes the sadness washes over me so completely it almost feels like it’s a part of my physical body. If there’s one thing I’ve learned though, it’s that fighting against it only makes it worse.
There’s something really messed up about our obsession with being positive. We feel we ‘should’ be positive and we ‘shouldn’t’ be negative. I cringe a little whenever I see some of the books in the self-help or the New Age section, with their message of how positive thinking is the solution to all our problems. I think for the most part society is wising up to the delusion of ‘always happy all time,’ but we still fight against our sadness when it happens. Why? Well, because it doesn’t feel good. But if you’re feeling sad anyway, why not just be sad?
That probably sounds confusing, but no matter how many times you cut a coin in half, the coin will always have two sides. Happiness and sadness are both a part of life. We will all grow old and die one day, we’ll lose all the ones we love and we’re going to feel sad at times in our lives because of it. I’m not writing this to make you feel bad about that. I’m just not going to lie to you.
I don’t believe in positive thinking, I believe in what’s real. If you feel sad, then feel sad. If you feel happy, then feel happy. If you feel lonely, be there with your loneliness. We need to stop fighting against ourselves and trying to live up to some impossible ideal of ‘always happy all the time.’ There’s no one who’s achieved it, and if they tell you they have, all that means is they have a good publicist (or a somewhat convincing Facebook wall). I’m here to tell you the truth.
The truth is you aren’t suffering because you’re sad. You’re suffering because you’re resisting being sad.
We seem to have so much trouble just being there with our sadness. We’ll do anything to get away from it. Eat a pizza, watch a movie, jack-off, have sex, drink, (insert your own habits here). We do everything, EXCEPT be sad, and yet that’s the one thing that makes being sad easier. It sounds counter-intuitive, but once you just let yourself be sad, it’s suddenly not so bad. In fact, you may even find that sadness starts to dissipate fairly quickly once you accept being sad, but even if sadness is still there you realise being sad is still okay.
If you feel like you need permission to be sad, I’m hereby giving you permission! You are now free to sad. Bury your face in the pillow and cry your heart out, call your best friend (someone you trust) and tell him or her how you feel, hide under the sheets with a tub of ice cream while watching the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders’ YouTube rendition of ‘Call Me Maybe,’ I DON’T CARE!
Whatever you need to do, do it. Let the emotion out. Most men feel that letting themselves be sad is a failure. It’s not. It’s the greatest strength. It’s the willingness to be vulnerable, to be open, to be honest, and to be genuine. What could be more powerful?
‘But how do I do that?’
Okay so maybe you’re wondering at this point how to just be sad. It’s possible that you may not know how to, because not only is it counter-intuitive but for men it’s also difficult to realise how we’re feeling in the first place. So many guys are numb to how they’re feeling because they’ve been told to ‘keep a stiff upper lip,’ and told that ‘boys don’t cry.’ We’re told women are emotional and men aren’t.
Don’t listen to those voices in your head. Men are meant to be emotional because we’re human beings, we’ve just become numb. So to help you get more in touch with your feelings and more accepting of sadness, I’ll give you the process I’ve been using almost every day of my life for the last six months to help get more in touch with myself and how I’m feeling. It’s a stupidly simple process that works and it’ll help you connect up with yourself and be more at peace with those uncomfortable emotions.
So, right now; for ten or fifteen minutes close your eyes and just ask yourself ‘how am I feeling?’ Then just feel into your emotions. You may feel sad, you may feel happy, you may feel agitated or anxious, or you may not even feel anything in particular. Try not to put too much stock into labels, don’t feel that you have to label how you’re feeling, just feel into it, and intend to accept however you are feeling. Say to yourself,
‘This is how I’m feeling, and that’s okay.’
Do this and you’ll not only get more in touch with how you’re feeling but you’ll also be more accepting of those uncomfortable feelings. You’ll realise they aren’t so bad after all. You’ll realise that being sad is okay, and sadness is nothing to be ashamed of or run away from, because you know the sadness is going to pass.
You know what happens when you let yourself be sad? You stop suffering so much. Because you stop fighting it.
On a final suggestion, please… If the sadness doesn’t go away, open up to someone about it. Even if you think you’ll be burdening them, chances are they care enough about you to help.
Originally published on primeleros
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