Ruth Gordon

MA MSW LICSW

Office: 239.692.8060
Cell: 239.293.4314

Naples,

Florida

 

 

 

April 2017
Living with Sad

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Sad is different than depressed.  Sad is temporary and not so scary.  Nonetheless, sad is not an emotion we welcome. Our desire to avoid the discomfort motivates us to dodge those feelings by utilizing a variety of distractions (healthy and not so) that, in turn, unfortunately, are likely to increase our sadness. 

I encourage clients to, if not embrace their uncomfortable feelings, at least take a shot at tolerating them.  When we give ourselves permission to experience what that entails we can then set some boundaries and limit the amount of time we allow ourselves to remain in that troublesome place.

Did I mention that it is an easy thing to suggest and a very hard thing to do?  I should have.  Right now an accumulation of events, past and present, have put me in the sad zone.  I have had to remind myself that I can productively live with this sensitivity to the blues.  I do not have to pretend (to myself) that I am upbeat.  I do not have to be afraid (as I have been in the past) that I will feel this way forever.  I have figured out the convergence of happenings that has led me to this funk at this time.  The next time I feel this way (and I will) I will, hopefully, recognize what is going on with greater speed and deal with it more effectively.

The reason I am addressing this is that so many of you have asked me, "how do I get out of this?" The answer is, don't try so hard.  The more you twist and disown and attempt to disfigure this uneasy state of mind the more difficult it will become.  We can't deny our uncomfortable feelings and expect to fully experience the happy ones.
Many years ago a therapist I was seeing said, "Your feelings aren't going to kill you."  I was indignant.  How dare she speak to me that way!  Well, you know what, she was right.  If one of our quests in life is to be authentic (which is a good idea) then each of us must accept all of who we are.

Once we are able to not only accept, but to take pleasure in this thing called "me," the whole world changes.  At this point we begin to be able to respectfully disregard opinions that do not support our beliefs and dreams.  This moment of self-understanding arrives when we can trust our judgement to lead us to make the decisions that bring our inside and outside into synchronicity.

As we evolve and gain wisdom we begin to express ourselves with originality and empathy.  We cannot possibly put ourselves into another's shoes until we stand comfortably in our own.  When we allow ourselves to become informed by our own struggles we increase our ability to prioritize and to place events into proper perspective.  In order to do this, we must allow all that we feel to live with us in peace.
It is helpful to understand that when we feel swamped by emotions that interfere with our functioning that it is possible to set boundaries.  Set a particular time to dwell on what is causing distraction and worry.  An example would be:  mornings between 9:30 and 11. 

Once you make this deal with yourself (you may want to write it down), it is important to stick to your schedule.  As you allow yourself to just experience whichever feeling (not event) is troubling you, you reduce that feeling's ability to terrify.  You will find that, with patience, your psyche will calm down again - it always does.  Going to war against your sadness, anger, anxiety, etc., will only allow whatever is haunting you to gain in strength.  Needless suffering!

If the first spark of melancholy is able to convince you that you deserve it, or need to run away, that is when you must have a talk with yourself.  What you are feeling is a legitimate part of you, but, it is not all of you.  Since we have no scale on which to weigh that which we deserve, how about giving up on worrying about that?  You will never get an answer.

Do you brainwash yourself into believing that you are the only sad person in your part of the world?  It sounds silly when I say it, yet, it is all too easy to believe that we are the only ones who cannot "deal" with feeling blue.

Maybe you allow yourself to conclude that you will feel this way forever.  Again, it sounds unreasonable when you see it declared in black and white, but, the fear of that feeling can drive us into that mindset.

It is normal, temporary, and rational to feel down sometimes.  Those who try to convince you that you bring on your own misery i.e. the law of attraction are not correct.  Of course you don't want negativity to take over your life!  Neither do you want to be a robot with no access to genuine emotions.

For myself, I find that keepin' on keepin' on is what works for me.  When the so-called "bad" feelings swoop in, I greet them with, "Oh, you're here again.  OK, I just can't pay attention to you right now, but I will get back to you."  And I do.

Tears come from the heart and not from the brain. 
Leonardo da Vinci