We are told time and time again that focusing on the "good" is the best way to deal with depression or sadness.
However, this does not mean that we should suppress sadness in order to only focus on the good. In fact, we should treat feelings of sadness with the same respect we give to happiness. We should honour sadness.
Many people put pressure on themselves to be happy all the time. This is not realistic. Life is not a happy cartoon. Distracting yourself, or even ignoring sadness only makes it worse. Sadness can actually be beneficial if you deal with it correctly.
Why honouring sadness is good for you
1) Feeling sadness is the only thing that helps release it
Much like any suppressed feelings, you can only push them down for a short period of time before they shoot to the surface, at the most inconvenient time.
Instead, bringing a spirit of curiosity and compassion to sadness lets you explore feelings without getting stuck in them. Become your own detective, think about why you feel sad and just feel it.
Notice where the sadness is in your body. You might feel chest aches, heaviness on your shoulders or tears. Accept these feelings and let them rise to the surface.
2) Unpick the sadness
Think about back to when you started to feel sad. Is there anything familiar about this feeling? Is it triggered by something in particular? What early life experiences felt similar? Start to increase your self-awareness around why you feel sad and this is a sure way for you to understand how to cope with it.
3) Invite Them In
What would you do if you allowed yourself to just be really sad? What would your day look like? Ho much would you cry? What movies would you watch? Would you sleep? What would you be in your pyjamas? If you let yourself just breakdown, would it help? What would you be thinking? Or doing? Even if you can't take a sick day, or literally have the sadness breakdown you believe you're on the brink of having, imagine if you did. Don't live in fear of your sadness.
4) Get creative
Emotion unlocks art and creativity that our rational mind tries to keep muted. It's a great time to explore what you really have broiling under your veneer of reason. Use this time to write, draw or play an instrument. Do whatever skill takes your fancy or whichever you have a natural flair - just make sure you do something.
5) Be kind to yourself
Often we can make ourselves feel a whole lot worse by our reactions to sadness. Thoughts such as "this is pathetic", "I need to be stronger" or "Just snap out of it" - are particularly problematic - you are not a robot. Embrace your humanity. Just like being kind to others in their time of need we should equally be kind to ourselves. Not only does kindness make us feel better in the moment but it also helps us to deal with the sadness in a more efficient way. Instead of encouraging us to surpess feelings of sadness it encourages us to accept them.
The absolute best way to deal with sadness is to honour it and who knows, you may find something beautiful at the end of your blue tunnel.