how to handle your sadness

Big surprise: i’m processing my emotions again.

Like that’s not the whole point of blogging.

Today let’s talk about sadness. We all like to pretend that we’re never sad, but we are. How to handle your sadness isn’t simple. We can’t employ a Tinker Bell “think happy thoughts” strategy. Not exactly.

Sadness can surround you like a pack of hungry sea gulls. It can show up as an exterminator, on your front porch in the early morning when you’re still in your pajamas. It can march right over to you like a retired neighbor who questions what you’re going to do about that patch of weeds that’s lapping over onto his manicured fescue.

Sadness hides teeth behind tight lips. It carries a lot of weight, considering its feeling of deflation.

Why are we sad?

Lately, I’ve been feeling some sadness off and on. I guess we probably all have been for the last 18 months. For some particular reasons and for no specific reasons at all. I have felt overwhelmed by life and decidedly NOT in control of anything. (Not where we Enneagram Ones like to live.)

Maybe you feel sadness, too. Your child is leaving for college. Your parent needs additional care. Your own health is declining. Your job is not fulfilling or utilizing your strengths. A relationship breech has occurred (maybe you caused it, maybe not)–and it’s invading your spirit, and you’re not sure how to fix it. Or you have decisions to make, and you’re frozen by the choices.

We can be sad for so many reasons. But sadness doesn’t mean we are faithless or emotionally-unstable people.

Feeling sad means we’re human.

Sadness can come from anywhere, for many reasons. (Click here to see what I’m trying to learn this summer, even though there’s been some sadness). Sometimes, life is too much all at one time. We need to address the sadness and find joy.

Sadness can come from grief, exhaustion, confusion, or loss. We all know about those. (Click here for blogs on grief and here for blogs on COVID.)

How to tackle sadness

Let’s all tackle our sadness. Notice I didn’t say SOLVE OUR SADNESS. And I also didn’t say DEPRESSION (they aren’t the same). Sadness is not depression, and it’s not an emotional equation. Sadness is a natural, soulful response to life’s imperfections; therefore, it cannot be solved with logic or flowcharts. We must address our inner selves. And probably with the power of something outside ourselves. For me, that’s God. What I do:

  1. Respect it; give it space to breathe. I journal, analyze, read, address, process, and watch Netflix. And I cry when it’s absolutely necessary. Then I try to get over myself.

2. Get wise counsel. I see my counselor, talk with trusted friends, and get expert advice from mentors who don’t live in my little world (That brings perspective.)

3. Consider that life isn’t as bad as you think (once again, perspective). Praying forgiveness over people helps me with perspective. It also eliminates the martyr-mentality that usually accompanies sadness.

4. Fill my head with truthful, hopeful, joyful promises (from the Bible)

5. Count your blessings. Here are some of mine:

  • My husband is alive and well (after a heart attack)
  • My son will recover (after surgery)
  • My family and I are spending a week together at the beach
  • Two families willingly shared their waterfront homes with us for a few days for recuperation
  • I have friends who listen and pray for me
  • God hasn’t forgotten me
  • I have spent more time walking, sitting, biking, and chatting with my husband than I normally do. #blessed

How are your blessings stacking up?

If you want someone to pray for you, email me at sueschlesman@gmail.com. I will pray for you. I will listen. Because everyone should talk to someone when they feel sad. And please sign up for newsletters and blogs that come to your inbox so you can laugh or consider truth at those moments when you need it. Click here to subscribe.

“Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.

John 14: 1, CEB

I almost never include prayers on this website because I write an entire blog about prayer (Click here), which has exceeded my expectations in traffic and response. I receive a lot of emails from people needing prayer and asking questions. This summer already, 7PRAYERSTHATWORK has seen over 82,000 visits, with another month to go.

Everybody prays because everybody hurts. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at praying or not. The point is to reach out, to transfer control to Someone else. To believe that hope is possible and God’s love is real. So here’s a prayer in case you’re ready to try one.

A PRAYER FOR SADNESS

Oh, God,

I’m really sad.

I feel overwhelmed.

It’s not any one thing–

I just feel a heavy weight of so many concerns, fears, and disappointments.

I feel lost.

Although you always knew your purpose on earth,

and you always knew how things would end,

you were sad, too.

Maybe the knowing is worse than the not-knowing?

You knew the enormity of your calling.

But what if I’m not sure of mine?

What if I’ve gotten off track?

What if I’ve ruined everything?

Please take my sadness away–

I’ll try to give it to you.

I know you can transform it into something beautiful and worthy,

something life-giving.

Hear me, Lord.

Wipe my tears.

Hold my heart.

Wrap me in your comforting arms.

I know that sadness is fleeting–

it’s a natural result of a fallen world–

but joy comes through the Spirit of God.

When you were sad, you turned to your Father.

And so, I turn to you.

In your holy name Jesus,

Amen.

Some blogs about sadness and joy:

What Grief wants from you

How to embrace change you don’t really want

Grief sucks

4 Steps to becoming resilient

We must treat sadness with dexterity. It’s serious, and yet it’s temporary. Every new day is a new opportunity. Something good can come from any heartache.

And here’s where I reference my favorite book from last week, Anxious People by Fredrick Backman. Sadness is literally the theme of his hilarious and poignant novel about normal people who carry worries but eventually find joy. Like we will when we address sadness instead of pretending it doesn’t exist..

NOTE: Depression and sadness aren’t the same thing. Depression has many signs, some of which are irritability, lack of energy, change in appetite or weight, feelings of worthlessness, sleep problems, suicidal thoughts, and difficulty thinking or expressing thoughts.If you experience signs of clinical depression, seek out a therapist right away.