Everyone goes through periods of sadness.
Sadness is natural, yet most of us run away from our feelings.
When we run away, we fail to uncover the hidden treasures within.
Why? Because sadness has something to teach us.
It’s here to nudge us to look within, to release yourself from the mental shackles that never existed.
Let’s look at how you can do that, shall we?
The first step is to watch the video below, where I share what I’ve discovered to work.
The video and article complement each other.
So remember to keep reading after you’re done watching the video.
And remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel, because not every video ends up on this blog.
3 Steps to Dealing with Sadness
When you explore your sadness, do it on paper.
Otherwise you risk getting stuck in the labyrinthine nature of your mind.
So grab a pen and a piece of paper, and let’s get started.
1. What Specifically Are You Sad About?
The first step is to look at what you’re sad about.
There is always a triggering event, because something has to trigger you to interpret life with a shade of sadness.
Feelings follow thoughts, so if there is sadness, there is a belief or thought behind it. You may not be conscious of it/them, but they are there.
That is why two people can assign two different meanings to the same circumstance.
So the first step is to uncover what you’re sad about. Dive into specifics and discover what’s truly going on.
For example, you’re never just sad. You’re sad because of something. What happened? Where? How?
2. How Are You Creating Your Sadness?
Once you know the triggering event, look at how you’re interpreting it.
In other words: How are you making yourself sad?
You may not be aware of what it is. It may be unconscious, which is why we want to explore what’s going on.
Becoming conscious of the unconscious is the goal. When that happens—and you begin catching yourself as thoughts of sadness come in—things begin to change.
So how do you see how you’re creating your sadness? You make two columns.
In one column, write what happened. In the other, write the meaning you gave it, or the thoughts that led to feeling sad.
Separate the event and your interpretation.
In other words, separate internal and external.
3. What Other Possibilities Exist?
Now, look at the column where you wrote down the meaning you gave the event or trigger.
Take that meaning and think of alternatives.
What other meanings could you have given what happened?
How would an older, wiser you, see the event?
How would someone you look up to interpret things?
Let’s say you’re sad because no one is buying the book you spent so much time writing.
The meaning you’re giving that event might be that you’re not good enough and that you might as well give up.
Another alternative could be that you just haven’t found the right people yet. Another one would be that you’re still learning, and that you’ve only begun your journey.
I could go on and on.
Write down at least five alternative interpretations. The more you write, the more you will realize that your interpretation is just one of many.
One Important Thing
Remember, this isn’t about getting rid of sadness, but about gaining clarity.
This exercise is meant to show you how we create our experience.
You may not even be aware that you’re thinking sad thoughts. They may be so automatic that you just suddenly feel sad.
So the focus here shouldn’t be on the exercise. Instead, it’s about seeing that you don’t have to believe every thought you have.
You don’t have to be afraid of your experience.
There’s no right way of doing this. Remember that.
I go with the flow when I do these kinds of exercises. I skip steps. I invent new ones.
This is not another thing for you to get right. This is a thing to mess up completely, and enjoy it.
The only mistake you can make is to run away.
So experiment. Dive in. See what happens.
All the coolest,
Thanks for this. Coming from a depression and anxiety related to a traumatic series of events its a good reminder to look at alternative thought patterns related to the triggers.
Anne Woodborne says
Your email couldn’t have been more timely. I have been intensely sad since Saturday ( not an unusual occurrence) I know what the trigger was. i was about to journal my feelings now I’ll do the columns as well because of your suggestion.I like the way you end your email, the coolest Anne
Hopefully the journey into yourself proves fruitful 🙂
Very good post with specific actions we can take. It is crucial to recognize that we can shift our point of view and perceptions about any event and that can make all the difference in the world.
Also it helps me to remember these wise words attributed to Thomas Edison:
“When you’ve exhausted all possibilities, remember this: You haven’t…”
Exactly. The reason we can see things from a different perspective is because we’ve made up our perspective in the first place. Doesn’t mean it’s easy to shift, but it’s possible.
Wonderful, simple article and approach to meeting one’s sadness. Along the lines of Thomas Merton and Thomas Moore in his book ‘Care of the Soul’ . I downloaded your ebook last summer. Have you updated it? if so, I’ll download again. Thank you for your work and support.
No updates on the ebook, so you should be up to date. Thanks Susan 🙂
I like how you word it as ‘creating your saddness’ – things happen to us that we can’t control, but the emotion we have is something we create ourselves.
A lot of the time people are sad because they want to be, something bad happened so it gives them a reason to be sad and seek sympathy from others.
Sadness is a normal emotion, but isn’t an emotion you want lingering around for longer than it needs to, which is pretty much what you said.
Awesome read, Henri! Thanks for writing it!
Anne Lafferty Hudgins says
Thank you, Henri. You are right, our perspectives are often what make us sad, or even angry. I often think of the old saying ‘not seeing the forest for the trees.’ I was like that for a great deal of my life. When I got up ABOVE the trees, I could see the forest. Until then I just ran around lost, bumping into the trees. Anne
This reminded me of something I read years ago–who knows where–about how we never try to figure out why we are in a GOOD mood! It made me laugh then, and still does, whenever I get into a “negative” emotion. (I am more inclined to anger than sadness, but same concept.) I think it is because we are SO conditioned to think of some states as “bad”, that we feel compelled, almost OBLIGATED, to engage in self-analysis at the slightest hint of a negative emotion. That said, I have kept a journal for years and years, so I’m not dissing that, by any means. But having read that comment, years ago, has helped me immensely to not take my emotions so seriously. When I’m in a good mood, playing with my dogs, I will joke, “OMG! I’d better figure out why I’m happy!” This habit helps me to have a sense of humor, and objectiveness, when I’m NOT in such a “positive” frame of mind.
Nice! I like that 🙂