"It is alright to feel sad... "
It was the Saturday before my birthday. The date I had been waiting for. I had been waiting for it for six years. I had worked out what I had wanted to have achieved in all areas of my life by that date. Relationships, emotional well-being, spiritual growth, physical recovery, financial independence...I had it all covered!
I had worked with silent dedication to make it all a reality. It was designed to be the ultimate date. A celebration of many battles fought and at the same time the start of the rest of my life chapter. The day of all days...
Unfortunately, it was a different picture from what I thought it would be. Someone that I thought would be a part of my life was no longer there and the picturesque landscape of this day was not 100% there. I started feeling a little guilty and some shame for feeling that something was missing. I wondered whether it was ungrateful to have nearly everything I had ever wanted and still feel sad about the one thing that was missing?
We are told to be grateful. The focus is happiness, contentment and gratitude. We are encouraged to focus stronger on the parts of life that make us happy and let go of the parts that make us feel negative or sad. I believe it is what we call emotional stability. In my case it would potentially mean giving up feeling sad about my situation. I just couldn't seem to do that. I thought to myself, " this is real sad sad sad! It sucks hard ...."
I believe that we do not choose how we feel. We just feel. Feeling is sometimes devoid of knowledge or reason. Working hard at changing how we feel is therefore a struggle. It would feel like fighting the greatest resistance. Trying to fight how we feel often leads to more suffering.
So when I get to situations where my sadness is calling to me, I always go back to Eckhart Tolle words: “Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace is transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender." So, I decided that I would surrender...
I would accept that I was confused, conflicted and sad about the situation. I was still happy overall but I did have a part of me that was still sad. Accepting this helped me feel more at peace. There was no guilt or shame and consequently no berating myself for being ungrateful. Instead I chose to speak to my sister about it to get some perspective and then I wrote out how I really felt as a letter note. When I finished, I went off to a zoom meet-up that was absolutely fun.
I decided to write this story because sometimes we need to accept that we feel negative emotions rather than fighting or suppressing them. It is alright to feel negative emotion even when we are experiencing the best days of our lives. Surprisingly, there are downsides to always trying to be positive! “Suppressing your emotions, whether it’s anger, sadness, grief or frustration, can lead to physical stress on your body. The effect is the same, even if the core emotion differs,” says provisional clinical psychologist Victoria Tarratt. “We know that it can affect blood pressure, memory and self-esteem.” Longer term, says Tarratt, there’s an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. And avoiding emotions can also “lead to problems with memory, aggression, anxiety and depression”.
A study found that by not acknowledging our emotions we’re actually making them stronger.
“For example, you might be angry at your brother and after stewing in your anger, not saying a thing, you could encourage an emotional outburst,” says Tarratt. “So when you’re driving the car a few weeks later and someone cuts you off, you can get all-out road rage, causing an accident. That explosion and overreaction to a situation is your body’s way of releasing that pent-up emotion.”
It is alright to experience every emotion. Ignoring how we feel or beating ourselves up for not being grateful is not productive. Sometimes, accepting that we feel awful is what we need. This life is definitely not easy. There is so much that makes our lives difficult. It is just reality! What would it be like to acknowledge that and turn toward ourselves in an affectionate and caring way rather than avoiding it or berating ourselves? Imagine how it would feel if we approached the wounded part of ourselves in love? How would it feel if we could feel our way through our negative emotions in a safe and healthy way?
As the world we live in gets more uncertain, insecure and lacking in peace; our emotions will feel the full brunt of these changes. The ability to care for our emotions is becoming increasingly important yet learning how to do this can be challenging. Taking the time to work out the best approach to explore, understand, express and navigate our negative feelings is important. I usually talk to someone and journal as my approach. I decided to share the letter note that I wrote with you as I hope it allows you to find freedom in expression as one idea that you could try.
...it is sad that I do not get to speak to you anymore
I will remember the days with you as they were
...it was like being in love in a sacred space
where our deepest thoughts could breathe drop by for relief step into for comfort
explore for inspiration
so much deliberation
so much affection ...it was like being in wait for a sequel eager for the the next chapter ... how will it unfold how will it continue so much mystery
so much exhilaration
so much anticipation
...it was like being on the opposite side of an enemy you loved waiting for the next move intrigued by the difference enthralled by the fun of losing to each other