How would you define sadness? Sadness is a response to loss, and feeling sad allows us to take a timeout and show others that we need support.
We can explain sadness and in general emotions in few steps.
Pre-condition: the context or situations which may have an influence. For example our pre-condition could be being hungry or tired, or having had a very stressful day or, in the case of sadness, listening to sad music.
Trigger: an event that triggers the emotion: it can be a person, place, situation, image, thought, memory, smell, sound, taste or idea that we encounter in reality or in our own mind. Eg. a friend gets angry with us.
Perceptual database: how we see the world which is a result of our personal history, basically our filters (the angry friend reminds us of a rejection in the past).
Changes in the body and in the mind. For example we may feel heat in our face, tightness in our jaw or shoulders, etc.
The emotion is the combination of physical and mental changes.
Response: We have a choice in how to respond. The response can be either constructive or destructive.
In the case of sadness possible responses are:Withdraw, Seek comfort, Obsessively think about the emotional experience, Mourn, Feel embarrassed by one’s feelings about the loss
When an emotion is triggered we are in the grip of that emotion, which limits our ability to think clearly and choose how we respond.
As time passes, we gain some clarity and the ability to make a thoughtful choice.
With awareness we can pause before we respond and choose a response that best serves our goals.
Why do we feel sadness?
Your mind is always looking for what you could lose, what you could have less of or what you could never have. You are biologically wired to prepare yourself for the worst at all times for protection and survival reasons. That is why it is up to you to take conscious control over the stories you tell yourself and the resulting emotions you experience.
While we cannot control the events that happen in our lives, we can master how we experience these events.
You are always going to encounter stressful times. It could be losing a job, losing your health or even losing a loved one. But stress, anger, sadness don’t come from the facts, they come from the meaning that we give the facts.
Consider a woman who had been adopted as a baby. One path she could take is to devalue herself, to believe that because she was adopted, that she wasn’t good enough to be loved. She could also take the opposite approach, and consider the fact that someone chose her and chose to love her. What’s the significance of her decisions over what story to choose? How will this impact her decisions in her daily life? How will it affect her bigger decisions?
The choice is yours. What are you going to focus on? What story are you going to let guide your life? You get to choose what meaning to assign. This is the one power that you have right now in this moment that can change everything.
It’s all about the meaning that you give the events and experiences of your life. Because when you come up with a new meaning, you can get a new perspective, and, ultimately, a new life.
The making of meaning
Our story is the meaning we give to the facts of our life – our interpretation of reality. If we make the facts about our life mean good things, we will feel happy about it; if we make them mean bad things, we will feel unhappy about them. Either way, we are the ones making the meaning.
My boyfriend/girlfriend left me
- I am free to meet someone who is right for me
- I will be alone for the rest of my life
- I will fight to win my partner back
- It’s life’s way to say: it’s time to move on
I lost my job
- I’m going to be broke
- It is a sign that I have to do something else
- I feel stressed
- I’m going to be more creative about saving
I am being criticized
- Someone is trying to give me a feedback
- I am a failure
- I am offended
Exercise: the making of meaning
- Name a sad event that happened to you. Come up with another meaning. Ask: what else could this mean?
- When you realise that you can make up hundreds of different meanings for any given event ask yourself: what do I want it to mean? You can deliberately choose the meaning which feels good.
Few tips for when you feel sadness:
- Sadness is contagious as joy. When you are around sad people you adjust your energy to them. You bring down your own joy so that you are in sync with them. Go and stand around people who live in joy, spend time with them.
- Sadness is the result of repeated thoughts, a repeated belief system and so the core of shifting sadness is to address your belief system “No one understands me” “I have no one that I can trust” “I am alone”. Go directly to the belief system” and begin to work on the belief system. Don’t try to work on your environment. the belief system is going to follow you in whatever environment you are going.
- Affirmations. Check on internet, books, videos etc. which affirmations resonate with you and WRITE them. All kind of affirmations relative to who you are, your beauty, your self esteem, what you deserve, what you love, Not read them, or recite them. WRITE them. Something deep happens when you write. Put your name on it and write it on a post-it. even if you are not sad but want to add some energy, some power and some certainty. Put them around in your house and read them out of loud various times a day.
- Make a list with at least 15 things that make you feel good. Commit with yourself to do at least one of these things every day.
Watch this interesting video on How to overcome sadness.