10.11.17 // How to Be Sad
Want to know how to be happy? Scroll through your feed, open your computer or step outside your door and it’ll take approximately 5 seconds before you get flooded with ads promising happiness and the most fulfilling life ~ever~. Today its absurdly easy to find a self help book, article, podcast, 10 step wiki page (with pics!); really whatever floats your boat.
We keep looking for happiness because we think we aren’t happy enough. We get flooded with ads and these articles about ways to be even more happy. Then we think, well I’m for sure not happy enough? And it’s obvious we would feel this way, you look around you and see people laughing, go on Facebook and see that 20 more people are having a better time than you at that cool new club opening that you totally should have gone too but you were at home “taking care of yourself”, ugh you idiot. Of course I knew this was happening in my life, I mean no one is going to post a lovely selfie post panic attack or breakup, but I never realized how much we pursued happiness in society until I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson (great book, not great if you don’t like profanities).
In it, Manson talks about that exact same thing I just outlined with pretty much that exact same humor, so I vibed with it instantly of course. He talks about how we are trying to pursue happiness so intensely that it actually serving to make us more upset, more sad, and more depressed. He points out that today in society we have access to so many products, so many options for what to buy and where to go that we have forgotten what to actually care about. Further than that, we are trying to pursue happiness so hard that when we don’t feel happy for an instance, we think we are doing something wrong.
We have forgotten how to be okay with being sad.
Society has this idea that it’s not okay to be sad. The second you say you’re upset, or that you’re having a bad day, you’re met with responses like, “oh no! You shouldn’t be sad! What’s wrong! Let’s fix you!” And I know what you’re thinking, those bitches! How dare they try and help me when I’m sad, they should just kick me. Obviously, I’m not saying that. I do it too. We don’t like to see people sad. It makes us uncomfortable. We obviously want to help. But I think it’s important to be able to process being sad.
I spent so long avoiding my emotions. I didn’t want to be anything other than in control, happy, and perceived as having it all while also being the best at pretty much everything I pursued (eating disorders and OCD make you think you got a lot of power if you couldn’t tell). To distract from feeling any negative thing, be it rejection, insecurities, whatever floated my sinking boat - I would force myself to be happy. I would buy things. I would read articles about how to be happy. I would focus so hard to trying to get to a level of happiness that I got even more upset. Mark Manson calls this the Feedback Loop From Hell, mine went like this; oh man I’m so upset about that thing that that person said to me once, wait they don’t matter why am I so upset about it, shit now I’m getting upset about getting upset, why am I so stupid! I shouldn’t even get mad about this! *kicks something*. We’ve all done it. And it sucks. We’re living in a state where being sad just isn’t okay, and that ironically served to make me even more upset.
I remember the first time I tried to just sit and ride out a wave of sadness I had. It was after a particularly challenging meal when I was in inpatient treatment. I was still in the early phases of treatment which meant that I had to stay in the supervised room for one hour after the meal, and I was freaking out. I remember asking my friend, “I feel so sad, what do I do.” And she told me to just feel it. Instead of instantly writing about it, instead of distracting myself (which if I wasn’t in treatment my distraction probably would have been something unhealthy like overexercising, for some people it’s cutting, for some people it’s calling that ex boyfriend in their camaro) - I just felt. I sat there. And I felt.
AND IT WAS WEIRD. I didn’t like it one bit. All I could think about was how I shouldn’t be feeling this way. And then after a little, it got easier and easier to sit down and feel it out. It wasn’t a bad thing that I was feeling that way, it wasn’t a good thing; it just was. After a while I wrote about what happened with that Sensei like “it just is” attitude and I, paradoxically, felt better when I wasn’t trying too.
It’s not about being okay with being sad all the time, but it’s about being okay with the idea of not being happy all the time. We are going to feel sad, it just happens. We are going to be hurt, be angry, be jealous, all the emotions are going to come because life happens and if you’re trying so hard to not feel anything then you won’t end up living. We need to stop labeling our feelings as good or bad and just feel, when we accept that this feeling will pass, we don’t have to try so hard to feel better, we just know that it will get better, because it will. When I tried so hard to be perfect and happy all the time it made more more sad, I felt like a failure because I couldn’t be that way all the time, BUT NO ONE actually can. It’s just not a thing, it would be kind of scary.
You’re allowed to have a bad day. It doesn’t mean you have a bad life. It just means you are living.
Give yourself permission to feel sad so that you can live without guilt that you are doing it wrong.
It’s okay not to be okay.