Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sadness = An Opportunity to Create

Is Being Sad Really Bad?
Make your dark side work for you
by Jen Tartaglione
The dark side. It's not just the negative side of the Force or a catchy John Cafferty song (performed best by Eddie and the Cruisers). For many, it's a state of mind. Everything going on in your world is pain. You are sad, alone and stuck in the throes of despair. What's worse, everyone around you is smiling, happy and completely unaffected by the suffocating force that is bringing you down. Boy, do you hate those guys.

Bookstores are littered with self-help books, doctor's hand out Prozac and Xanex like candy and then there's the most annoying thing in the world… people like Dr. Phil and Tony Robbins telling you there is hope, that you too can be happy. Yeah, like they know what sadness is with their millions of dollars!

Relationships That Work
The art of communication Well you know what, Tony Robbins? (Say it loud) "I am sad and dammit! I am going to wallow!"

Sadness, loneliness and despair are all a part of the human condition. But for some strange reason, there is a new epidemic where people seem to think that they need to strive to be happy all the time. They think that sadness is wrong. Not so!

Don't take this the wrong way, and certainly don't let sadness rule your life, but don't rule it out either! If you don't sort through the feelings of pain, they're just going to linger and may even get worse. Read these helpful tips on working through and utilizing your sadness (as opposed to stuffing or medicating it!):

You are a slave to the media
Yes, it's true. A slave to the media. Don't fight it, you know it's true. Why make such a bold claim? Think about it, baby boomers and all following generations have always had constant bombardment by Hollywood and Hallmark channel notions of fairy tale endings. The protagonists always end up together, and that's what we want to see because deep down we wish for that to happen in our own lives. But ultimately when they find each other, the movie ends - they don't show the subsequent ups and downs. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are NOT married in real life! The abandonment issues Juno's child will face later in life, were not addressed in the movie. When you find yourself all in a tiff over a fantasy, remember that's what it is - a fantasy - and move on.

Who loves ya?
You are not alone and someone out there does love you. That's your mantra - now use it! Sure you're going through a rough time - anxiety over a job, divorce, loss of a loved one - but no matter how much you try to convince yourself that you are alone and unloved…you aren't! That's what family and friends are for. Give someone a call, just talking about your problems will make you feel better. There's like 9 billion people on the planet, if you don't feel you have a real connection with someone, get out there and make one!

History repeating itself
Every other human being in existence and throughout history has been there. Sorry to make you feel unoriginal, but most likely the things that are bugging you have affected other people too. A lot of other people. Infidelity, disease, war etc. It happens and it is not fun, but instead of fighting it, just go with the flow and know that this too will pass, and you'll be all the stronger once it does.

You've heard it before
If you don't feel the lows, you won't feel the highs - no matter what. It's true. Think of your emotions as a pendulum. The higher they go in one direction, the higher they will go back in another. The trick is, when you feel negative emotions, try and train yourself not to react immediately. Instead, channel your feelings (and the energy you feel from anger) into something that will ultimately benefit you or make you feel better - paint a picture, write in your journal, take a hike, go to the gym, clean the house... you get it!

So when you're down, think about these things. No matter how hard you try to keep a smile on your face, you're always going to have ups and downs. If you don't embrace the hurt, it's impossible to learn anything new or to fully appreciate happiness when it does come along. Feeling sad is something everyone goes through, so instead of numbing yourself take a moment to cherish the feeling - if it weren't for sadness we wouldn't have priceless works of art, beloved poetry or awesome music. Being sad is cool, people will think you're mysterious.

1 comment:

Ruth Ann said...

I used to think as you do: that lots of money means one can not or should not be sad.
And I've said jokingly, "Anyone who thinks that money can't buy happiness just doesn't know where to shop."
But having worked with literally thousands of extremely wealthy people over the course of my career, I can say with assurance that wealth does not confer immunity from sadness.
One couple I know, with many millions of dollars, always answers when people tell them how lucky they are to be so rich: "We inherited this money when our beloved parents all died within two years. We would trade every dollar for one more day with any of them. We miss our mothers and we miss our fathers, and no amount of money can ever bring them back, and having this money is a constant reminder that they are no longer with us."
Money doesn't cure an incurable disease. Money doesn't stop a father's sadness when his son has a chronic condition for which medical science has not yet found a cure.
Money doesn't stop your sadness when terrorists fly a plane into a building.
Money doesn't insulate you from sadness when your pet dies, or your eyesight fails.
One of my oldest friends, who was far from rich when we met, married someone with a famous name and a lot of money. They have a magnificent estate where they have given many parties for charity, where they have lived together for many years. One day they came home to find that their longtime caretaker had murdered his wife, committed suicide, and set their home on fire.
They are still rich, but how will that alleviate their unspeakable sadness?
I can't blame you for believing that money can insulate you from sadness - I used to think the same thing, until I realized that money simply can't do that. Money might enable you to employ more resources to cope with sadness, such as working with mental health professionals, or taking other action that might help.
But sadness is sadness, and there is some pain in the human condition that a person's net worth can't erase.