Overcoming Seductive Sadness
Unhappy moods can be like comfortable sweaters, those old ones: familiar, worn and with the right kind of smell. When we’re in a sad place, or actually with any dissatisfied feelings, we want that comfy sweater. We actually can feel really safe wearing it. It’s dark and cozy. Choosing to feel the full feeling of those emotions are powerful. In some way wrapping that sweater tight, we are powerful.
Bad moods are seductive this way. When our sorrows claim us, then we demand attention, and sympathy. We’re the object of our friend’s attention. And when the universe makes sure no one is home when you call, there’s that cozy sweater again, that old sweatshirt, or those bed covers. The lure is even stronger.
The problem is that when we’re ruled by these emotions—oh yes. We’re not really in control here—we’re not happy. That is not to say those feelings are not important. There are reasons to be angry, to sorrow, and to grieve. We need those emotions as much as laughter, but it is easy to let those emotions seduce us into lingering there long after the fight or the crying is done.
You know what happens if you wear an article of clothing too long? You don’t wash it, you don’t let it air out in the warm breeze and touched by the warmth of the sun? Yeah. It gets smelly and unpleasant. Ich.
You really cannot stay that way. So when that fusty sweater gets too cozy, it’s time to take a deep breath and find some other article of clothing to wear. Literally. Or you could make yourself a scrumptious brunch, or read a funny story, or watch a funny move. Even better call a friend over for dinner. This can be tough. Why? Because you don’t want to indulge in more angst. You took off the sweater. Focus on cooking or ordering in some fabulous meal to share; light candles. Talk about something different. Find out what’s going on with them.
Choose a change of pace.
There are times happiness is an act of will. When those blue feelings become familiar, it’s hard work to look for contentment. If the sad feelings trap you, beyond their natural course, you have to decide you want a different emotion. It does not have to be a sudden switch. Our emotions do not really work like that. It isn’t like turning a light on. Sometimes it means taking several moments during the day and take a few deep breaths and just look outside, or think of something positive.
After a while, that change of pace, those moments of deep breath and stillness and you find that the warm breeze is running its fingers through your hair and the warm sun is caressing your face. And the true gift of sorrow is revealed. We know how much this joy is worth.