Many of us spend much of our time trying to avoid sad emotions. We will do just about anything to keep from experiencing sadness, including pushing loved ones away and denying ourselves the time we need to experience the full range of emotions that make us uniquely human. Can sadness really be of value?
In an article published in Psychology Today on the topic of sadness, writer Atalanta Beaumont explains: “Some people have real difficulty identifying this emotion due to living in a culture which values “positive” emotions above the more negative ones. This is a mistake because as humans we need the full range of our emotions to be in working order in order to be able to respond appropriately to our own needs and those of others.”
Let’s just make a quick distinction, there is a vast difference between the emotion of sadness and depression. Depression is an entirely different ballgame that will be discussed further on.
Here are 5 Scenarios when sadness can actually be of value in your life:
Sadness can lead to an emotional state of creativity- Many famous writers and artists were sad leading up to their masterpieces. Sadness and pain have always created emotional depth and perception in culture. It has the ability to open creative centers of our brains and increases both our capacity and desire to be imaginative.
Sadness teaches us perseverance- Perseverance is a very human experience that often comes about as a result of experiencing sadness. If we never experience sadness, how could we possibly survive the death of the people we love? Sadness doesn’t only teach us how to persevere through pain and suffering, but it prepares us for true grief as well.
Sadness can be felt alongside other emotions- It is possible to be happy and sad at the same time. It is possible to experience moments of joy alongside feelings of sadness. Sadness in humans is like seasoning on your potatoes. Sadness is not the same thing as depression, although often times depressed people will feel sad for extended periods of time. It is not a chemical imbalance, it is a funnel by which we experience the world. Like anger, like happiness. It is a passage back in time to remember loved ones past and learn from tragic historical events. When we deny ourselves these feelings, we deny ourselves the human experience.
Sadness is beneficial when it is a catalyst for other necessary emotions- Sadness is a catalyst for other emotions that are necessary to make a good change in this world. For example, often times feelings of sadness can lead to empathy or can even be used as a moral compass. A recent article on the topic explains that “Sadness can also enhance empathy, compassion, connectedness and moral and aesthetic sensibility.” Link
Sadness is good when science says it’s good- Its true! Science doesn’t lie, sadness can actually be a good force in our lives and has been a benefactor of human evolution. Depression and sadness are signs for when it’s time to make necessary changes in our lives. It forces us to take time to reflect on our lives and perhaps even pinpoint where things went wrong saving us the hardship later on when it matters more.
The next time you are feeling sad, consider instead of pushing the emotions out, embracing them for a bit to see where life takes you after. Good luck and don’t be afraid. Sadness means caring and caring is love. Remember to hold heart space for yourself and others during sad times.
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