Have you ever considered how sadness can serve you?
Seems like an odd thing to say or contemplate.
Sadness can be especially painful because it often brings up sad memories from the past, which can feel overwhelming. We associate it with situations caused by circumstances or people over whom we believe we have little impact or control, and also with grief, loss, and an overpowering or heartrending ache.
When people are sad, they frequently describe themselves as depressed. Sadness is temporary and the result of a specific moment or experience. Depression is a persistent sad mood and an inability to experience positive emotions. Although an experience or trigger may initiate a depressive episode, it is not the sole factor in maintaining the depression.
With sadness comes increased activation of our limbic system, which is composed of areas of the brain associated with memory and learning; as a result, we are predisposed to attend to more negative stimuli. When the amygdala – the main area of the brain responsible for emotional responses – is excited, we are inclined to respond more fearfully. We also have a tendency to bring up more memories from the past, with sad memories, in particular, being more salient. Stimulating this brain region also activates our innate tendencies to approach what is safe or pleasurable and avoid what is dangerous.
So, this is how sadness can serve you. Sadness can inspire you to reach out to others and conveys to them when you are in pain and need comfort. Further, it helps you approach those who are most likely to provide comfort and help you through difficult moments. Yet, if you have learned that others are unsafe, you may tend to avoid them, instead isolating yourself with sadness. Learning how to connect with others so they may support you is an important element of growth from having experienced sadness.
This weeks questions:
Think about who you reach out to when you experience sadness?
Are they safe? If not, re-evaluate who your go to person should be.
Next week’s topic: The Difference Between General Shame and Core Shame.
I’d love for you to respond on my facebook group!
Join my group on Facebook LOVE MY LIFE and let me know. I’ll post the question and jump on myself to chat and answer questions you may have, on Wednesdays at 3:00 pm Pacific.
To A Life You Love,
Dr. Joan Rosenberg