What does being sad say about you?

By David Joel Miller

What do you tell yourself when you are sad?


Photo courtesy of Flickr (Ron Bennetts)

Many of us can’t bear to let ourselves be sad. Not because the feeling is so unbearable but because we tell ourselves that if I feel that way there is something wrong with me. That insistence that we should not feel what we feel or that feelings are negative, can keep you from learning the lessons that feeling are trying to teach you.

Those things we tell ourselves to try to avoid feeling what we feel can keep us stuck in those negative feelings a lot longer than if you let yourself feel and then decided what you wanted to do about that feeling.

Do you tell yourself these things when you feel a sad emotion coming on?

1. If I am sad that means I am weak.

Sad or even depressed does not mean week. Feeling sad means you are normal, especially if the sad is for what you see happening to others. Only a psychopath can see a child being harmed and not feel sad. So unless you are aspiring to become a psychopath let yourself feel sad when things happen that should make you sad.

Being sad is not weak, it is realistic. What you need to do is not stay stuck in the sadness but look for ways to be kind and compassionate to those that suffer.

That list of people who you need to be kind to – your name should be up at the top of the list of people deserving kindness.

2. Do you think being sad is pitiful?

Pity is a looking down on others emotion. Why are you looking down at yourself?

Be compassionate with yourself. Beating yourself up or telling yourself not to feel what you feel will undermine your ability to use feelings as a reliable guide to life events. It is not pitiful to be you.

3. If I let myself be sad I am a basket case.

It is not people who feel that end up in emotional trouble. People who try to hold things in eventually melt down or they become dead inside.

Some feelings have to be felt before you can move on. If someone dies feel the grief. Be sad when sad things happen.

Do not let sad or your efforts to not feel sad take over your life.

4. Being sad makes me inferior.

Being sad is a normal human emotion. Everyone can and does feel sad some of the time. What matters is what you do with that feeling. Do you get sad when you should and then let it pass or do you get stuck there?

You do not need to be less feeling and more numb than others to think of yourself as acceptable.

It is not the feeling sad that defines you, it is what you do with that emotion once it has visited you.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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