The dark side – it’s not just the negative side of the Force – ora catchy John Cafferty song, covered by Eddie and the Cruisers. Formany, it’s a state of mind. Everything going on in your world bringsyou pain. You are sad, alone and stuck in the throes of despair. What’sworse, everyone around you is smiling, happy and completely unaffectedby the suffocating force that is bringing you down. Boy, do you hatethose guys.
Bookstores are littered with self-help books, and doctors hand out Prozac and Xanax like candy. And then there’s the most annoying thing in the world… people like Dr. Phil and Tony Robbins telling you there is hope, that “you, too, can be happy!” Yeah, like they know what sadness is, with all the money they make!
“Well you know what, Tony Robbins?” You say out loud, “I am sad and – dammit! I am going to wallow!”
Sadness, loneliness and despair are all a part of the human condition. But for some strange reason, there is a new epidemic wherein people seem to think that they need to strive to be happy all the time. They think that sadness is wrong. It’s not!
Don’t take this the wrong way, and certainly don’t let sadness rule your life – but don’t rule it out, either. If you don’t sort through your painful feelings they’re just going to linger – and they may even get worse. These helpful tips on working through and utilizing your sadness will help you to avoid stuffing it – or medicating it away:
You are a slave to the media
Yes, it’s true. A slave to the media. Don’t fight it, you know it’s true. Think about it – baby boomers and all the following generations have always endured constant bombardment of Hollywood (and Hallmark channel) notions of fairy-tale endings. The protagonists always end up together, and that’s what we want to see – because deep down, we want that to happen in our own lives. But ultimately when the characters find each other, the movie ends – the story doesn’t show the subsequent ups and downs. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are not married in real life. The abandonment issues Juno’s child will face later in life were not addressed in the movie. When you find yourself all in a tiff over a fantasy, remember that’s what it is – a fantasy. Move on.
Who loves ya?
You are not alone, and someone out there does love you. That’s your mantra – now use it! Sure you’re going through a rough time – anxiety over a job, divorce, loss of a loved one – but no matter how much you try to convince yourself that you are alone and unloved… you aren’t! That’s what family and friends are for. Give someone a call. Just talking about your problems will make you feel better. There are around nine billion people on the planet, and if you don’t feel you have a real connection with someone, get out there and make one!
History repeating itself
Every other human being in existence and throughout history has been there. Sorry to make you feel unoriginal, but most likely the things that are bugging you have affected other people as well. A lot of other people. Infidelity, disease, war… and on and on. It happens, and it isn’t fun, but instead of fighting it, just go with the flow. Remind yourself that “this too will pass,” and you’ll be all the stronger once it does.
You’ve heard it before
If you don’t feel the lows, you won’t feel the highs – no matter what. It’s true. Think of your emotions as a pendulum. The higher they go in one direction, the higher they will go back in another. The trick is, when you feel negative emotions, try to train yourself not to react immediately. Instead, channel your feelings (and the energy you feel from anger) into something that will ultimately benefit you, or make you feel better – paint a picture, write in your journal, take a hike, go to the gym, clean the house… you get it!
So when you’re down, think about these things. No matter how hard you try to keep a smile on your face, you’re always going to have ups and downs. If you don’t embrace the hurt, it’s impossible to learn anything new or even to fully appreciate happiness when it does come along. Feeling sad is something everyone goes through, so instead of numbing yourself, take a moment to cherish the feeling – if it weren’t for sadness, we wouldn’t have priceless works of art, beloved poetry or awesome music. And sometimes, being sad is cool – after all, some people will find you mysterious and intriguing while you work your way past this!
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