Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.—Khalil Gibran
We all experience some things in life that have brought us to our knees. Whether it’s an illness, death, divorce, loss of a job or financial troubles, our uncontrollable situations can cause us great suffering and grief. At times, we feel sad for no discernable reason. It’s very similar to and often related to negative thoughts. Sadness comes from a lack of meaning and purpose, from a lack of hope, from fear of the future, or worry about loved ones. It’s part of the human condition that we naturally have the ability to feel blissful and melancholy and everything in between. This is a good thing.
My son, Rocco, is intelligent, sensitive, and very spiritual. He studies many different spiritual practices from Christianity to Buddhism. During a phone conversation, he told me that he was sad but okay. Parents worry when their children are unhappy, especially when they live far away. My first reaction was to jump on a plane and make darn sure he really was okay. Rocco was the first person to explain to me—his mother—that being sad is part of life and that it made him appreciate the good times even more. I asked Rocco to recall our conversation and if he would share a few sentences about his interpretation of our discussion. Here’s what he said.
Sadness is not the end. Sadness is the beginning of a deep understanding. It brings forth new awareness. You are shedding your emotional walls. To have sadness is to have awareness.
Think of sadness as water and our body as the earth. When it rains in dry places, it nourishes the land. Water is health. Water is already there. In fact, it makes up much more of us then we think about. Sixty percent of our bodies are water, and the world is made mostly of water.
In this metaphor, let it really sink in that emotion is water and it must be allowed to flow.
A big part of what happens to most people when sadness arises is that they judge it because Western culture has programmed us to believe that the only true state is euphoric happiness. As humans, we go through many states. We are constantly changing.
When we prevent the natural order of our emotional state we get in the way of the emotion trying to come through and happen, which will only clog us up and cause what I call “emotional constipation.” Perhaps we judged the environment we are in as inappropriate to express whatever deep, dark, emotional truth we are experiencing. If that’s the case, then leave. If a negative emotion comes up, wanting to be expressed, the inner depths of your humanity want to be represented. It reveals a scary truth: emotion is just story. It isn’t real. It is our perspective at that specific point in time. Once it passes, our emotion changes.
We have the choice in every moment of every day to accept this. We don’t have to wait for a silent place to contemplate or meditate; we can do it throughout the day. Simply bring your attention to your breath. No matter what is going on, bring your attention, your awareness to each inhalation. Be your own guiding light. Be your own best friend. Take the time to be there for yourself.
We are fragile creatures. Much of our internal progress has been with us since early childhood. If we were vulnerable then, we are vulnerable now. As adults, we have the ability to heal ourselves … to make a choice. Do you want to be happy? If the answer is yes, let go of whatever is inhibiting you. Build the life you want. Your life is the refuge from the weather of time. But there’s a hurricane outside and the wind is ablowin’. Let it blow. Buckle down. Stay warm. Find friends. Relationships act as a wonderful insulation to stay warm.
In my darkest nights, thinking about how bad things were was never helpful. While in the eye of the storm, the best path for me was to take action. There’s a voice inside us all that makes us think the end of the world is happening in our turbulent times. Don’t listen to that voice. We can’t always change things that make us sad or mad. Take a look at the pain and just breathe.
We must accept that sadness is a part of living, but that doesn’t make it easy. The most traumatic event I endured left me heartbroken and devastated. My hopelessness and anguish turned into depression. I found it difficult to function normally for several months. My eyes were constantly red and swollen from crying. There was a tightness in my chest and lack of energy in my step. My stomach was constantly in knots, and I couldn’t eat.
One day, I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror and almost didn’t recognize the person I had become. My smile and happy demeanor had turned sour. My brows were constantly furrowed, and I looked ten years older. It was at that moment that I realized I needed to snap out of this suffering state or it would ultimately affect my health.
The Buddhist faith holds that misery and a lack of happiness are natural states and that change is the only constant. Although change is often viewed as a negative, sadness can also be an opportunity in disguise. We think we have our lives planned, but then something dreadful happens that throws us off guard. Perhaps there is a greater reason for us to endure an occasional roller-coaster ride; it can help us determine exactly what we want and don’t want in our lives. And if you’ve ever been on a roller-coaster ride, you know there’s no getting off in the middle. At times, you better just hang on!
As I look back at some of the things that were devastating or disappointing in my life, I realize that by experiencing those turbulent times, I came to understand more about myself and I became stronger. But how do you get through the eye of the storm alive? Unhappiness (or sadness) stems from a lack of acceptance of reality. Take a few minutes to write about your obstacles, tribulations, or losses and what makes you sad. If you were your own psychologist or if you’ve been in therapy, what lesson can you learn from the grief you’ve experienced? Is there some sort of silver lining, something that has prompted to you to be more thoughtful or caring to yourself or others because of this tragedy? The sadness you endure may indeed help you become a stronger person with a more clear vision of what you want and don’t want in your life.
Perfect timing, I had to come to grips with something outside my control that is happening to someone important to me. It’s put me in a funk, but know in the long run things have a way of working out for the better. I’m putting my trust in God, for I know He has the answers.
Congrats Tina! Putting ourselves 1st is tough to do sometimes, but necessary. Many blessings…
Agreed to a point, but when emotional pain is caused by constant physical pain, the ability to mentally adapt, becomes really tough, boot straps only pull so high 😉 stay well, GODbless…
Agreed, Benjamin. God Speed.
Thank you. 🙂
Thank YOU!! ; )
Wow, I think you will be a great OB. It seems like you have a real love for children, fiielmas, and people in general. Sad to say that those qualities are rare traits in todays world. I believe not just anyone should be in just any job because you could be in a job that you hate and end up making everyone who comes in contact with you at work miserable. You have the joy and care to be great at your job and effect those you will be working around not only by your knowledge , but by your love for what you do.
Thank you for the kind words. Very much appreciated. ; )
Hope to see you here often.
This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I am blessed to have “stumbled” upon this today. I have recently been going through a difficult time with health issues, death of 3 friends within a 6 week period, an aging mom who lives hours away…thank you for this post. It really is helping to ground me…funny how good messages come our way…at just the best time!!!
I’m so glad this resonated with you, and so sorry for all you are going through. Sending you love & light…
This has Put Me In A Deeper Train Of Thought Because I Remember I Had Read Somewhere That The Heart Was A Deceiver……People Tell You To Do What Your Heart Tells You to Do…..But Your Heart Has Nothing to do with it …..It’s Only A Organ And Its Doing Its Job….Emotions Are The Problem And where Do They Come From…..
You are right, the heart is an organ, but when people say to trust it, I believe they are referring to your heart center, or internal guide. It’s great that you are at least considering a deeper train of thought. ; )
I am sorry I didn’t get back to you in May – business stuff.
This is an exceptional post! May I paste it to my Facebook Group (weight loss/control) page? This response will help some of the folks in my sphere of influence. When they see that they’re not alone, and share similar experiences with others (even “successful” people), I’m thinking they’ll have a new energy to climb out of the doldrums!
Thanks for taking the time to write this, and God’s Speed to you and yours.
Absolutely Craig! Post away!!
My goal is to share my love for healthy living with others. I know what it’s like to not have your health. Being healthy is so much better!
BTW, please let Ted know I’ve been a fan of his for 40 years! Someday I’d like to say hello to you both in person!
I will tell him Craig! Thank you!
Thought I’d share this:
“Surrender to existence with total trust; accept yourself as you are with love; do everything with total awareness.” (Kiranji)
Love that! Thanks Mark!
We also need to learn to forgive ourselves. Constantly beating yourself up for something that happened years (or even days) ago can cause significant sadness that is hard to let go of. God can forgive us, therefore we need to let go and forgive ourselves! A suggestion for when anyone gets into a funk and are struggling to get out of it: do something nice for someone…tell a stranger in the store that her dress is pretty, hold a door for someone, simply look someone in the eye and give them a genuine smile and say HI. It makes me feel happy every time 🙂
Thanks Jill! Great ideas! Makes me feel happy too!
Have an amazing day!