According to the dictionary, sadness is “a condition that causes or inspires pain.” The fact that it is closely related to pain is significant, because that’s what pushes us to try to get rid of it as soon as possible: in the same way that physical pain is perceived as an abnormality of normal life, inner pain is instinctively seen as an erroneous presence, perhaps caused by something we have done wrong or by an injustice suffered, and therefore we are inclined to do everything to make it go away. This is also for another reason, of psychological nature: the intensity of a negative feeling such as sadness is felt far more than a positive feeling of equal intensity and has a greater psychological impact (usually more than double).
Yet, like any human emotion, sadness has a very specific utility. In particular, sadness and melancholy are two emotional reactions that serve to react to a situation of unexpected sorrow, regret, and are important because they force us to temporarily keep ourselves close: with this simple mechanism our mind places itself in self-observation and diverts our energies from the action, precisely because acting under emotional conditions of sadness could lead us to make wrong or hasty decisions. Our psychological structure recognizes disturbance, it knows that in these conditions it is not ideal to make choices or carry out actions and therefore places itself in a moment of forced waiting, able to elaborate the reasons for the disturbance before moving back to active life.
Nevertheless, it is important not to let the sadness become extreme: the most important ability of the human being is to keep effective control of their emotions, recognize them and keep them at a level that does not affect our balance. It is therefore incorrect to stifle sadness in the bud, but it is equally dangerous to let it loose and allow it to swallow our energies.
The balanced management of our emotions and self-control to act effectively are among the most requested personal goals in life coaching. As an expert in emotional management and action orientation, the life coach is one of the most suitable professionals to help those who are inclined to let themselves go to sadness. For practical help dedicated to specific personal situations, the suggestion is to contact a professional life coach.
However, below we offer four general suggestions on how to manage sadness and its propensity to become extreme:
- Accept its presence: sadness is an important signal that our mind is giving us and should not be inhibited too hastily. When we are sad, our psychological structure pushes us to move away, take a break and address the root of the disturbance. Cognitively, coping with discomfort is the key to win back and feel able to do so. Furthermore, perceiving sadness is completely natural (on the contrary, subjects who are unable to feel sadness are actually among the psychological pathologies) and should not scare us. It is almost always a momentary condition that does not cause permanent effects and from which we recover naturally. Not being afraid of sadness is the first step to dealing with it effectively.
- Avoid loneliness: sadness is a self-nurturing feeling. Being sad leads us to focus on the triggering cause, to mull over the root of our anxiety, and the more we focus on it, the more we risk fueling the sadness itself. It is therefore appropriate to break the circle and distract ourselves. The best way to deal with sadness is to be in the company of others, especially people we love. And this is exactly what we tend not to do when we are sad, precisely because we feel we are not in shape and do not want to reveal ourselves to others in these situations. But giving up to loneliness is fundamentally wrong and what is needed is just a first effort: let’s fight the desire to lock ourselves in the house alone and force ourselves to talk to someone. After initial resistances, we will soon discover that companionship is the best remedy for sadness. You can always go back and think about the triggering causes later.
- Change perspective: if we are sad, often it is because we feel we are undergoing a situation that we do not deserve, perhaps due to an excess of bad luck, an injustice suffered or a failure to return from things or people in which we have invested so much. However, sadness leads us to see things only from our personal point of view. An effective strategy against melancholy, although often quite difficult to implement, is that of the so-called “cognitive reframing”: it involves observing the causes of our sadness from different perspectives, which has little to do with the effects it has on us. You can use compassion for the behavior of others, or even more rationality, one can try to identify the possible reasons that have led others (or life itself) to give us what is making us feel bad. Usually the vortex of sadness leads us to mull over a thought and let it give birth to others that are even sadder, in an escalation that must be stopped as soon as possible. If we are able to recognize the beginning of the escalation, we can try to detach ourselves for a moment from the sad thought, analyze it in a less emotional way and rationalize it. One effective way, for example, is to write it down: often, when we do this, we realize immediately that it’s having an exaggerated effect on us.
- Dedicate yourself to something that makes you feel good: The quickest way to deal with sadness is to focus on something that gives us immediate satisfaction. This can mean indulging in one of our favorite pleasures, such as good food, play, music, even sex. Or devote ourselves to an activity that distracts us and stimulates our abilities, such as sport for active individuals. Or you can dedicate ourselves to the so-called “easy triumphs”: simple activities that, with limited effort, lead us to an easy-to-achieve pleasure, such as tidying up at home, doing a puzzle or cooking. Feeding personal satisfaction and pride is the best way to prepare to overcome the moment of discouragement.
These are the four main strategies for fighting sadness in general. Obviously, every case and every situation has its own story, and for this it can be useful to contact a specialist for cases where sadness is taking over in our lives. A good life coach, in this case, can be the immediate help you need.
This article was translated from here by Zulfee Akhter