The Secret Reward of Sadness

The Secret Reward of Sadness

written by: Laura Aiello
by: Laura Aiello
Crying-woman Crying-woman

Sadness.

We try to avoid it, hide from it, get rid of it, stuff it.

Sometimes it works (sort of); sometimes it doesn't.

Sadness and divorce just seem to go hand in hand, along with sadness's cousins, grief, anger, melancholy, frustration, hopelessness, and sorrow, just to name a few.

Nobody really likes these visitors. As if the job of divorce - the paperwork, the division of property, custody, the cost - weren't enough! Sadness and it's relatives make it so much harder to navigate the process.

Believe it or not, there really is an upside to all these perceived negative emotions. And I do mean perceived because as we are about to learn, they aren't actually all bad. As any avid Inside Out fan knows, sadness can allow us to connect with and even receive help from others.

Reward #1: Connection

If you are a hardcore do-it-yourselfer, this may not sound so great. The truth is, we all need help from time to time. Everyone, without exception, experiences periods of sadness. The full range, from the blues to deep grief, are part of the human condition. Trying to deny it is trying to deny part of who you fundamentally are.

We are all human.

Allowing others to see our pain is incredibly vulnerable. So, it takes a lot of courage to let people in. The key here is letting the right people in. People that have earned the right to be a witness to your misery.

These are the people that care deeply about you. These are the people that will sit quietly with you in the darkness and hold your hand. They will breathe with you. They will say, "Let's figure this out" - and then proceed to help you figure it out.

If you are worried about letting people see the cracks in your life, stop. Think of a time when you had a close friend that was really down and they let you in on their situation.

How did you react? Did you think they just cannot handle their own life? Were you judgemental of their decisions? Or did you really feel for them, and work to help them?

If you were critical, you hadn't really earned the right to hear their story.

More likely, though, is that you could empathize, having had difficult experiences of your own. Your biggest desire was to help your friend through the pain. You didn't feel anything more than love and compassion for them.

This kind of deep connection is what builds and fosters and rich and rewarding life.

A Facebook life - you know the type: all glossy and perfect - is not real. That's the enhanced highlights reel. Deep connection is not the goal of a Facebook life.

Real life is messy. Real life has ups and downs. Real life contains joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness, blessings and grief. Real life is about being connected. Remember earlier when I said that sadness and all it's relatives were perceived as negative?

Reward #2: Awareness

We tend to think of these emotions as bad.

Totally understandable, since they are decidedly not fun.

But they serve a purpose, even beyond connection. They draw attention to the fact that something is not going the way we want it to in our life.

Awareness.

This may seem obvious - we are sad because of X.

The thing is, if we try to rush past these "negative" feelings, we lose out on an opportunity to learn from it.

What occurred may have been completely out of your hands.

Or it may have been as a result, directly or indirectly, of your decisions.

In either case, you have actually been gifted with a golden opportunity to expand and deepen your life.

If you were a victim, you have a chance to practice compassion, forgiveness, and/or acceptance.

What would motivate someone to behave in such a way? What must their life have been like to allow them to treat another human being like this?

Shifting your view in this way can help you to accept that some people have had so little positive influence in their life that they could act this way. And now you can begin to let it go.

If your decisions had something to do with your present situation, how could you do things differently in the future? What about you allowed you to put yourself in line for what happened?

These questions are hard. The answers are even harder. Most people don't want to put forth the effort and work through the discomfort to get the answers.

But wouldn't you rather know? Knowledge is power - power over your own life, your own happiness, your own future.

It's not easy, but as the cliche goes, nothing worth having ever is. The body keeps score.

Reward #3: Your emotional and mental health

Avoiding our challenging emotions doesn't mean they actually go away.

They go into hiding.

They hide in your body.

They hide in your mind.

They come out eventually. Illness, lowered immunity, depression, addictions, heart disease, weight issues, poor relationship quality, anxiety, sleep issues, to name a few.

If you continue to ignore these feelings, the body has no choice but to turn up the volume.

The issues in your tissues can get so loud that your life is disrupted, sometimes permanently.

Who's got time for that? Who wants to live like that? Deal with it now or deal with it in the extreme later.

It's your choice. Make it a good one!