”It’s hard to trust, when your heart’s been broken times before. You pull the curtains and you
lock the doors, swear you’ll never go out anymore.”
~ Matthew Perryman Jones
Sadness is a crucial human emotion. In fact, babies become sad and distressed when they are separated from their mothers because they need nurturing and connection to survive. Sadness fosters a sense of connectedness by driving us to seek support in the same way babies will seek out their mother. Similarly, when you leave high school for college, you can be happy and excited for the future, but sad at losing a part of a life that you were attached to.
You can experience sadness in your body as a feeling of emptiness, hollowness, a pain in the chest, or as if you can’t stop crying. You can actually feel physically slow and lethargic...it can even feel difficult to get out of bed.
Sadness can feel very unpleasant so we often try to escape it. However, sadness can be a good thing for us to feel. It informs us that things are important to us. When we experience a loss, it means what we lost really mattered. If we didn’t have things that mattered, then life would be kind of lame. It can be healing in itself simply to let ourselves feel the emotion, because it may drive us to seek social support, connect more with family, and help us process the loss.
Sadness can also inform us that our expectations have not been met, leading to us feeling disappointment. This can motivate us to try harder and improve.
Sadness can be complicated because although it has some good qualities, it can cause us to want to withdraw and isolate and be really critical of ourselves. When we do that, we tend to make ourselves even more sad and feel worse.
Like any other emotion, it’s not meant to last a lifetime. Although sometimes, when sadness is overwhelming, it might seem like it will never pass, it always does eventually. Particularly if you acknowledge it and work to remedy it with skills and your self-care toolkit.
The best remedy for sadness is to act the opposite of withdrawing, isolating or self-criticizing by seeking support from others, having empathy for yourself, being self-compassionate and realizing that we are fortunate to have something important enough to feel sad over. Check out the rest of the Skills Studio ‘Sad’ category to learn more ways of understanding and dealing with sadness.
References / Learn More:
Hokuma, K. (2017 December 24). The Emotion Wheel: What It Is and How to Use It. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/emotion-wheel/
Linehan, M. (2015). DBT skills training manual (Second edition.). New York: The Guilford Press.