Expressing emotions is difficult as it’s not always encouraged in society. People rely on comfort zones and a secure mask to get them through the day. You may feel emotions stirring and wonder, “Why am I so sad?” and not know where to begin in how to answer that.
In a way, being sensitive can be looked down upon. We ignore warning signs of sadness, depression and other forms of suffering because having feelings is something we cannot be open about in society. Stigma stifles us from speaking up.
It shouldn’t be something we are afraid of. With the release or catharsis of emotion, we find resilience and who we want to be. Sadness is one emotion of many. But it’s often the one most ignored. We don’t want to appear weak to others, or even to ourselves.
Ignoring sadness leads to repression. It may also lead to depression.
There is a difference between sadness and depression. Sadness you feel, depression may lead into numbness, intense sadness or a heaviness that cannot be easily coped with. You may go through all your coping skills for sadness, and it may still be there if it’s depression.
Typically, sadness is fleeting and brought on by something; it comes and goes, whereas depression holds us down for long periods of time maybe lasting weeks or so. It’s where we are in a hole we feel we cannot climb out of by ourselves, but we are even more afraid to ask for help.
When you are feeling sad, you are most likely feeling alone. You are most likely feeling helpless. You feel like it’s the end of the world or that you can’t go on. It’s a grief of something. But part of depression is feeling this way almost nonstop at a depth that can overrule your behavior.
When you feel sad, you may be at a juncture in life of confusion. Where do I go from here? What next? Or even, what is worth holding onto?
Do you find yourself hiding away from the world in shame or confusion?
Do you find yourself feeling hollow or empty, even though more tears may come up?
Do you find yourself feeling lost?
These are the key components to both sadness and depression. Sadness may hold on but it doesn’t linger. Depression doesn’t let go.
Seek a professional to help assist with either, but for now, reasoning through the causes may help to identify a way for a solutions.
Here’re 9 possible causes of you sadness that you shouldn’t ignore:
1. Lack of Support System
We need people to know who we really are. We need moments of vulnerability or opening up to one another to feel safe and secure. When we can tell others what we are going through, we feel a sense of clarity and release.
We feel obligated to be our own heroes. We feel like we need to hold on rather than let go and let others in. When this happens, sadness increases, and we are no longer engaged with those we love.
People overwhelm us with their ability to smile, carry on and even be functional. But that’s not always their truth either. When sadness hits, we have to tell someone and build a support system. We may find we have some thing about ourselves in common with others.
Find people you trust: professionals, friends and family that you can turn to when going through a hard time. Let them in. You are not alone in this. You just need to allow others to see your weaknesses, which aren’t even true weaknesses. Feeling sad is not a weakness. Holding back in an effort to appear strong is, however, a weakness. When people know what you’re going through, they can better assist you.
“No man is an island.” — John Donnes
2. Inability to Communicate Needs
When we are the most sad, we have trouble communicating our needs to others. But sadness doesn’t form overnight. Oftentimes, the repression goes back longer and deeper. We expect others to read our minds. We don’t give them a chance to get to know the real us because we’re so afraid of rejection.
Your needs are more than food, shelter and clothing, etc. They include understanding, compassion, reassurance, empowerment and hope. When you let yourself become vulnerable, people can offer you these things. It starts with communicating your needs.
Maybe you were passed up in a promotion, rejected in a love affair, hurt over past childhood abuse, neglected in life because of your inability to speak up. All these things do not define us. What defines us is what we do with them, the lessons learned. We have to let people in so that we can decide what to do with them.
To communicate your needs, write a list of your values, goals, what you’re grateful for and what you want others to help you with in regards to these areas. Then, make a plan to ask for help. Let others see this list. Let them choose how they can help you.
3. Identity Loss
Our identities become wrapped up in what we want people to think about us. Instead of hiding in the same stigma of sadness, open up to the world to share what you are going through.
When you are wearing a mask, you cannot be authentic. And when you are not being authentic, you are not getting your needs in life met. You are not building a true foundation for success. You cannot be happy. You cannot learn others’ needs or identities. You cannot offer a solid answer to their own vulnerabilities. Instead, you freeze. You become numb to others’ suffering and isolated in your own.
That mask needs to come off. Otherwise, you’re just waiting for more sadness to consume you when isolated and alone. That mask is designed to distract others from your pain, but it doesn’t work in the long term. Eventually, that mask will break.
If you keep it on, you will look towards that mask as who you really are. You will pretend and lose sight of your dreams and goals. Instead of letting that happen, take the mask off.
The freedom that comes in being yourself is worth it. The sadness will shrink at the sight of who you really are.
Hardship does not define us. But it can take time to recover from one. Don’t speed up that process. Sadness is not an inherently wrong emotion to feel. It’s just uncomfortable. And when you go through a hardship, that sadness will be there. That sadness attaches you to what you lost that you loved. It gives meaning to it. It helps you understand yourself when you open up about your grief.
People will have solutions for everything. But the greatest answer you can give yourself is honoring that sadness and what it stands for, so that it doesn’t overwhelm and control you. You will be less afraid of the hardship’s long term effect. It will equate some closure. You will learn lessons from the hardship that you might have not learned any other way.
Hold space for the pain, for yourself to heal, and for others who might not understand right away.
Be kind to yourself. That’s the best way to handle sadness from a hardship. Know that it’s natural to be there, but it won’t be so pushy forever. That’s where your own abilities come into play.
You can keep going knowing that you will honor that notion that it carries the weight of what you once wanted. And maybe as you grow, you will change in what you want. But you will never change in what you need. And that’s healing, growth, love and honoring your journey that you got this far and are able to do much more than anyone knows. Keep going!
5. Negative Messages or Self Talk About Yourself
You are worth everything. Your sadness does not speak to what you are worth. It only tells you the story you tell yourself. And when you change that story, you can breathe. You start to see the positives in your day. You start to realize you deserve to be happy. You even let yourself smile maybe. You will not go down that easy. You will rise again.
In The Toxic Effects of Negative Self Talk on Very Well Mind , Elizabeth Scott, MS said:
“Studies have linked negative self-talk with higher levels of stress and lower levels of self-esteem.”
Both stress and lower self-esteem bring on the sadness in which we feel we are losing our sanity. But we can pick ourselves up again with positive self talk.
Positive self talk is sending message of love and hope to yourself when the world fails to do so for you. It’s taking control. You may not be able to take control of every aspect of every circumstance, but you can control yourself. That means you have something to give. You can show up, when you are struggling, and you can know you are safe because you can control the messages you are telling yourself.
Take control, today and everyday, and watch the sadness fade. Start with “I am worth it.”
Maybe you’re not going through a hardship. Yet, you are not empowered. Maybe your circumstances are just not giving you what you want. You are having unfulfilling experiences. Your relationships are not healthy, your school or work simply drains you, you have no support system, you have an identity crisis, a lack of focus or meaning. Or all of the above.
In all of these examples, you feel a lack of power over your life.
Maybe you didn’t notice it at first, but the sadness creeped slowly up on you. Maybe you need it though as a wake up call. This isn’t the life you deserve. Maybe it’s time to change something.
That’s when sadness can serve us. It can give us hope. That we can feel enough to know something isn’t right. You don’t need to explain it to anyone else. You just need to act on it. You’ve been white-knuckling through your problems enough. Use the sadness or when it rains to open an umbrella, and walk forward.
7. Lack of Focus, Direction or Drive
It may be a simple thing of a lack of focus, direction or drive for your reason for sadness. You may have a great life, but you don’t know which way to go next. You aren’t taking what you do have seriously. In fact, you may be taking what you have for granted.
The lack of gratitude may be the reason why you can’t see the good even though it’s there. You’re forgetting why you started. You don’t recognize yourself in the mirror because you’ve let yourself wander so far. But now, it’s time to get it all back.
Choose. Make choices. Act. It sounds simple, but it is not easy to get your drive back. You have to really want it. And that changes everything.
Your mindset is everything. If you can’t view things with a positive spin, you will have nothing to do that is meaningful or productive. If your mindset is causing you to overlook what you do have and what you can have, it’s time to change it. Just with positive self talk, getting focused is about realizing what you deserve.
“It’s during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” — Aristotle
8. Oppression of Some Sort
Poverty, pain, wrong doing, injustice… Sometimes, there are things outside of our control. We may feel like there’s nothing we can do in our current circumstances to make it better. But we have to try.
You didn’t choose this, but you did decide your attitude about it.
You can either fight or stop. But stopping is not an option.
Instead of blame everything else, see what you can do to be a light here. Get yourself through it to get yourself to the other side. Don’t judge what you’ve had to do in the past to do just that. But now it is time to start over.
Forgive yourself. Let the sadness be a voice for what you’re going through. Express that. It doesn’t mean things will change right away. But you will change. That will make meaning out of your sadness. It will help you transform what you hope to change.
If your sadness doesn’t leave you, it may be depression.
A chemical balance may be the reason for it all. Or a sudden hardship, heartbreak, loss. There’s no one reason for someone to become depressed. It’s subjective to that person.
Sadness enduring and growing stronger with a more hollow, empty feeling than you’ve ever had before is a sign of depression. Depression strikes when you are down. It’s like a weight on your chest. Sometimes, the sadness robs you of your sanity. You make rash decisions. You act in ways that do not appear healthy. You choose to retreat rather than open up the world. And therein lies the problem. You forget you’re human. You’re allowed to ask for help.
When the depression becomes numb, it could be a multitude of emotions lingering that the brain suppresses to help you cope. In that state, it’s time to reach out. Even if you don’t know what is causing it, it’s time to act.
If you need help, here’s a great organization to start with: National Alliance on Mental Illness describes depression as hopelessness, lack of interest in activities or even suicidal thoughts.
It’s also suggested to create a safety plan. This means you gather your supports, someone you trust, to help maybe take you to the ER if symptoms persist.
Call a suicide prevention hotline.
Note these aren’t fail-safe. It may take trying different therapies such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Maybe even medication. Meditation never hurts. But it’s up to you to be honest about how you feel, if something is not working for you, or if a counselor is not helpful.
Get ready for it all to be a process, to take time. There’s not a quick fix for your feelings. And when sadness becomes depression, you know to take it seriously. One day, there may be a cure, but for now, you will heal your sadness and depression by identifying and causes and coming up with a plan of action no matter what.
People don’t always recognize when someone is in crisis. They don’t know your internal dialogue. They don’t hear your negative self-talk. But what they do is love you.
You are not alone in this at all. Sadness can be very telling of what a person is going through. If it becomes depression, added steps are needed to getting help.
It should be viewed as any other health crisis. But due to stigma, it is not often so that we view it that way.
You can change that — just by showing up, just by voicing your concerns, just by living for yourself, your needs, and your goals. Because when it comes to sadness or depression, we often feel silenced. No more.
More to Cheer You Up
- How to Be Happy Again: 13 Simple Ways to Shake off Sadness Now
- Why Negative Emotions Aren’t That Bad (And How to Handle Them)
- How to Stop Being Sad and Start Feeling Happy
Featured photo credit: Casper Nichols via unsplash.com