We have looked at the emotions of anger and fear; this month we will examine the feeling of sadness.
Remember, humans experience four primary emotions: anger, fear, sadness, and love. All the other feelings are degrees or variations of these four.
- The features of sadness vary from mild (disappointment) through to extreme (despair). Let’s have a look at some of them:
Sadness is also one of the emotions with which some people have difficulty. This may be because:
- When sadness was shown, it resulted in ridicule or discipline.
- It was labelled as “childish”, “weak” or “disgraceful”.
- No one ever showed sadness so that emotion was never identified.
- It got mislabelled as something else that was more “acceptable” to the family.
Let’s have a look at how this emotion might get a bad reputation. Here are some examples of rules/messages with some possibilities of resulting beliefs and thinking.
Rule/message: “Only babies cry”
Resulting belief: Crying is a sign of immaturity
Subsequent thinking: “If I show sadness, people will think less of me/won’t respect me .”
Rule/message: “No sense crying over spilt milk.”
Resulting belief: Sorrow doesn’t have any use.
Subsequent thinking: “It’s silly/illogical to be sad about …..”
Rule/message: “Keep a stiff upper lip” or “Buck up”
Resulting belief: One shouldn’t show emotions.
Subsequent thinking: “I’ll keep my emotions under control.”
What are some of the rules/messages about sadness that you were given? Can you identify what beliefs were formed out of those? As we go through the Life Experience Chain, you will see how this results in destructive behaviours such as apathy, indifference, weariness.
PURPOSE OF SADNESS
Sadness is the emotion that says “You’ve lost something important.” This can be a person, a thing, a position, an opportunity, a desire. It can occur when something expected doesn’t happen or when something unexpected does happen. Sometimes sadness whispers “If only” or “too bad that … ”.
You need to know what emotions feel like in your body because:
- it is one way that the emotion can be identified from the other emotions especially if an emotion has not been allowed or has been misidentified.
- it will help when we look at how to manage triggers.
Sadness is an empty hollow feeling starting in the upper chest but can quickly turn into a crushing heaviness. There is a general feeling of darkness, like a light has been turned off. There is a loss of energy with resulting feelings of fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep, and other body responses.
Remember, Sadness is your friend, not your enemy. Its purpose is to help you be more aware. You will see this more clearly as we work through the links in the Life Experience Chain, examining triggers, choices and behaviours. You will learn how to identify the feeling of sadness from the other emotions and how to properly let sadness do the work it is intended to do.
As a child, you were not responsible for the rules and messages you received about the feelings of sadness. You do have a choice as an adult about changing those. You have the right to change them into helpful and manageable feelings that validate and empower you.
Choose today to start making changes. Change will occur as you continue to:
- Properly identify the emotions you feel.
- Begin to use them as they were designed to be used.
- Start to act on these new responses.
painful, intolerable FEELINGS helpful, manageable
illogical, self-defeating THOUGHTS logical, self-enhancing
irrational, damaging BELIEFS rational, healing
unhealthy, dishonouring healthy, trustworthy
given to me as a CHILD RULES AND MESSAGES created by me as an ADULT
Judith S. Carscadden