Is it OK to embrace sadness? Of Course! Here's Why.
We’ve all experienced times in life where sadness has knocked on the door. Sometimes we’re expecting it to turn up at some point, sometimes it knocks on the door unannounced, and sometimes you find that it never even left, it’s just been hiding in the attic all this time and has come down to stretch its legs.
One thing we very rarely, if ever, do with sadness, is actually invite it in. Our culture has taught us that sadness is an unwelcome emotion, one that should be condensed or avoided altogether.
So why do we seek out sad songs? Why do we watch films that make us weep over and over? Why do we love stories that end in tragedy?
I think it’s because, deep down, we know that sadness is an important emotion to experience every now and again. We need to release our pent up anger, we need to grieve our losses, and we need to process our regret, guilt, or envy.
As I said, however, our society doesn’t have a great track record with dealing with our darker emotions, and sadness is a prime example. In the UK, slogans like ‘stiff upper lip’ and ‘keep calm and carry on’ litter our consciousness, and make us more hesitant to disclose how we’re feeling.
I do think this is changing, however. Recently there’s been a massive push towards teaching children how to accurately name and deal with their feelings. Therapy animals are on the rise, and more and more people are taking advantage of the benefits of therapy.
But sometimes, there are days when you just feel sad. Maybe something specific has happened, or come to an end, and sometimes not. You just need to process this feeling and get on with your day. Here are a few ways to embrace your sadness so it isn’t the unwelcome visitor showing up and rummaging around your fridge.
Writing it down
Journalling is an excellent way of moving your sadness out of your head and giving it proper thought and attention without it weighing you down. Documenting your feelings honestly and secretly can give you the space you need to express your thoughts without drowning in them. Writing a letter to yourself or whoever you want to talk to, or even making a voice note for yourself, is another way of getting that release without it becoming a damaging thing.
Have a sadness date
Bear with me on this one. Maybe you’ve had a rough day, your struggling to get things right, you’ve had a fight with a friend, and you’re generally feeling pretty low. Clear your diary, get into the comfiest clothes you own, grab a glass (bottle) of wine and some chocolate and put a sad film on. And then…just weep. Let it all out. You’re safe, you’re comfortable, and you’re letting go of all of that frustration while feeling soothed.
Talk to a friend
This one can be tricky, as it’s important to find someone who’s not going to try and either fix the problem, or tell you that actually, everything’s great and you don’t need to feel sad. They might be right, but if you are wanting to embrace your sadness, hearing that actually it’s not the end of the world is probably not too useful.
Find a friend that you trust to listen to you and to be discreet. If you need to, ask them to listen and empathise, but don’t comment, and just let it rip. Say everything you need to say, and cry if you want to, trusting that your friend will be there for you (as you’d be there for them if the tables turned). If you are the listener then there's nothing like opening yourself wide for a hug. The benefits are mutual.
If sadness is getting in the way of your daily life on a long term basis, then it’s important to speak to your doctor about ways to healthily manage this.
If sadness is visiting you every now and again, however, sometimes it’s good to leave the door on the latch, stick the kettle on, and sit down with it. If you’re feeling brave, you can even leave it a key.