November 20, 2016

Why Allowing Yourself To Feel Sad Is The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Yourself

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What is the issue?
Jenny Woods
Jenny Woods

I think it’s bullshit that we have to hide it when we feel insecure. I think it’s bullshit that we have to apologize to people when we’re merely showing we care. I think it’s bullshit that we have to be these fake facade just to make it through the day. I think it’s bullshit that when we take the risk to show our vulnerabilities or sadness, the general consensus is, keep that shit to yourself.

Because no one likes a sad sack.

Show me one single person who hasn’t been a sad sack some day. Just one. Show me.

You don’t overcome being a sad sack by repressing the sadness and pretending to be okay. “Fake it till you make it” is bullshit. You overcome sadness by understanding that you are a human and yes, contrary to popular belief or preference, humans have a vast array of emotions and it is healthy and good to actually feel them.

You are allowed to be sad – but the more important thing you have to understand is that you are also allowed to be happy.

I think a lot of us forget this most of the time. The two – I don’t want to say they go hand in hand, but they are related. Can’t have dark without light and all that. Repression is a numbing agent. You start not letting yourself feel sad, or scared, or angry and soon you won’t be able to feel anything at all.

You overcome being a sad sack by taking small steps toward a full life – doing something that brings you joy, no matter how small; being aware of the good around you (and yes, some days that’s hard; some days, my gratitude list is “Stella (my cat) and this pen,” but then some days the list sprawls on and on); and not beating yourself up when you slip and fall. You will slip and fall.

You will never be free of sadness. It’s bullshit that we feel we need to be, that we do so much to try to run away from any negative feeling. That we spend so much time escaping, hiding.

How we spend our days, said Annie Dillard, is how we spend our lives. Do we really want to spend our lives trying to numb or escape ourselves? Drinking, eating, shopping the pain away? I know I sure as shit don’t.

The irony is, of course, that people tell you to just be yourself, until you are, and then they can’t handle it. It’s easier to deal with two-dimensional people; you can fold them like paper and slip them into your pocket, taking them out only when you want to deal with them. A three-dimensional person isn’t so easy to fold. Or hold.

We all want to be held, don’t we? And maybe we feel that if someone else can’t or won’t hold us, maybe we’re not worth being held. We’re too heavy, too serious, too sad. But here’s the real crux of it: Sometimes, only we can hold ourselves. There’s no shame in that. There’s no shame in being there for yourself, or being kind to yourself. It’s not arrogant or self-absorbed. And sometimes being kind to yourself means letting yourself be a sad sack for a bit. Reveling in the full emotional range of human existence.

And to be honest – I’d much rather be a sad sack some days than an empty sack or a sack of shit always. TC mark

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