I am experiencing a period of sadness right now. I know a few things that may be contributing to it but I also think there are some things in my sub-conscious that are trying to bubble to the surface. Regardless of the why, I just can’t seem to shake it. I know what I can do to transition to happiness but I seem to be making a choice to wallow in it.
Is there a benefit to sitting in your emotions, in my case sadness?
“… you should do what you fear most – sit in the belly of your personal monster. That is, develop an inner calmness and strength so that you can sit with your emotions, thoughts, and beliefs.
The answer is based in the idea that your emotional distress (or failure to be the person you’d like to be) probably results from your being alienated from yourself. You don’t want to feel hurt, so you pretend not to care; that is, until you are overcome by a tsunami of hurt…
The best way to respond to these experiences isn’t to try harder or to pretend that your struggles don’t exist. Instead, you must accept your distress; enter into that painful inner landscape, and walk through it.
By doing this, your compulsion to avoid those painful parts of your experience will no longer drive you from yourself. You will learn to tolerate them. And then you will learn to accept them. When you accept your emotions or experiences, no matter how painful or difficult they are, you also more fully accept yourself. You may be sad or angry or lonely; or something else; but once accepted, those experiences will feel ‘right,’ much as grief – even though it is painful – feels right when you have lost someone you love. In accepting your emotions, you are sitting in the belly of the beast.
Not only does achieving this self-acceptance mean that you can then feel better about yourself, but it is also empowering. It allows you to figure out whether there really is a problem beyond your merely cowering from your emotions. If there is, it enables you to look at it more clearly; and gives you the chance to approach it in a more confident, effective way.
You may wonder how you can learn to accept your emotions when they can be so upsetting and overwhelming. And, this is a good question. Some common ways are with personal journaling, meditation, mindfulness practices, and therapy. But just knowing that you need to accept all of your experiences is an important step in itself – because if you are not convinced of its importance, you probably will just continue trying to fight or deny unwanted experiences – a goal doomed to fail.”
As I see it, the benefit to sitting in my sadness, is being able to identify the emotion, integrate it, and accept it, all in the name of fully accepting myself. I definitely like the idea that moving through these stages empowers me to approach experiencing other emotions with more confidence and clarity.
How am I dealing with my sadness? First, I am driven to meditation. And even though I may spend part of that meditation crying, I find it cathartic and freeing. Second, I am writing this blog as a public journaling of my experience, in the hopes of inspiring others to use the process of sitting with emotions to move through them. Lastly, I write poetry. I find when I am sad, or others are suffering, I am inspired to write poetry (see Yoko’s quote above). I am sharing it with you:
Nothing is as it seems,
In my heart and in my dreams.
A cloud descends from overcast skies,
To fog my mind and blind my eyes.
I slip into the deep waters of despair,
And float on waves of I Don’t Care.
I know I should expand,
I choose to contract.
I know I should move forward,
I hold myself back.
The voice of reason has gone mute,
I wear my sadness like an ill-fitting suit.
Dressed up, I sit in the dark,
And shoot for happiness, but miss the mark.
I’d rather play a record over and over,
With a beat of circles broken,
A chorus of words unspoken,
A melody of what has been,
And what will never be again.
I will end with a story contained in the Source article–perhaps it will inspire you to slay your own dragon:
A long time ago, in the middle of a great countryside, there was a village terrorized by a dragon. A young knight came to its rescue, charging the dragon on his trusted steed. But before he could even get close, the creature merely yawned a fiery yawn and incinerated the poor lad. Then, a more experienced knight, equally fearless, approached the dragon. Using a fine, sturdy sword, he attempted to slay it. But, no matter how hard he swung that sword, it simply bounced off the dragon’s scales. The dragon smashed this knight with his mighty tail. Knights from kingdoms far and wide came to demonstrate their courage and strength. They attacked with all manner of weapons – spears, battle-axes, cross-bows, and catapults. But every one lost his life to this great beast. Finally, one day, there appeared a stranger in the village. He was a bit worn down by life and carried no weapons, but he walked with a quiet strength. He asked the townspeople all about the dragon and went to observe it himself. Then, with an intense focus, he slowly – but unhaltingly – approached. And, when the awesome monster opened its mouth – apparently to spit fire – the man simply walked right inside and sat down in the belly of the great beast. After a blast of heat and some angry roars, the dragon disappeared in a puff – leaving the seated man.