A New Light on Sadness


Antonella Saravia

“Life is difficult. That is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult–once we truly understand and accept it–then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” -M. Scott Peck, M.D. in The Road Less Traveled

There are a few things I want to say of sadness. Firstly, there is no shame in feeling sad. We all feel sad. I felt it just yesterday and I chose to just let it be. I didn’t shame it. I didn’t attack it. I didn’t distract myself from it, ignore it, or analyze it. I told a friend about it before heading off to bed, accepted it, and just let it be. When I woke up this morning, it was gone.

I’ve often been told that I write about sad things. This confused me for a while. I even stopped writing for a few weeks to figure it out, but after much thought, I felt comfortable disagreeing. Sadness is only perceived as something sad, when in reality once it is addressed and accepted in a loving manner, one can feel a great deal of peace because of it. When I say that out loud, it makes sadness seem lighter.

We all feel sadness. But some people are so scared of it that they reject it, terrified of what it might mean. It’s normal. Sometimes, feeling sad is there for a reason. It demands presence and self-awareness. As John Green wrote, “pain demands to be felt.” It does, and when it is felt, something comes of it.

We have to accept that we feel sad, which requires self-love and an awareness of the present moment. After discovering some sadness and resentments years ago, I began to understand some ‘out of character’ habits that were causing confusion in my life. Connecting the dots, I was able to see where it was all coming from, but I had prolonged this simple task by distracting myself from and avoiding sadness.

For some people, accepting they feel sad is a battle in itself. There is so much ego and shame tied to the feeling of sadness that they get stuck there, unable to accept and move forward. But there is no shame in feeling sad.

After accepting sadness, what usually follows is understanding why, which requires reflection and honesty. This is where most people stop because they put the sadness aside and invite another feeling to distract them. It's so much easier to avoid the question: "Why am I sad?"

Many times sadness is just a temporary feeling and if you treat yourself as compassionately as you would a friend, you can take something from that awareness. Half the time, you might even discover that it’s just boredom, lack of sleep, or hunger disguising itself. Sometimes, though, it's not as easily dismissed. Sometimes it's not gone in the morning, and it may be time to tell someone.

But in all cases, sadness is there to teach us something. It’s a vehicle of growth. If only we’d be less terrified of it, we might allow it to instruct us. My advice will always be to talk about it. With no conclusion in mind, speak of your sadness.

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