Sadness

Lead in

We discuss the emotion of sadness.

Intro

Sadness is a coherent emotion that is accompanied by negative feelings and a downturned mouth, including tears and sometimes crying.

Definition of sadness - needs to be definition of the emotion.

Image
Sad looking woman

 

Sadness is not an easy emotion to define.  Obviously everyone experiences it differently and there are a great many words in the English language, at least, for synonyms of sadness.  Our task here is not to define sadness in a way that is universally applicable, but to define it in a way that is applicable to emotional fitness training.

We become sad as a result of loss.  It may be loss of a loved one, a favourite toy, a job prospect, our pride, respect, or our sense of well-being.  Whatever, once it is gone it is gone and there is nothing we can do about it except let it go so we can start afresh.  Sadness is letting go.  When a person is sad, in many ways, it is their body telling them to relax and let go of tensions in the mind and body.   When people are unable to let things go they may start to have problems, such as developing a depressive disorder.

Benefits of this definition

By focusing on one aspect or narrow definition of sadness, we are more able to apply a solution.  Loss is a universal experience.  Winning is usually associated with happiness and loss with sadness.  When we win we are happy.  When we lose we are sad.

The main event

Image
Sad and depressed man

 

As discussed in previous presentations on emotions obey physical laws, and emotions are rational, happiness and sadness generally occur in a rhythmic pattern alternating over time.  We should all be aware that when we are sad, we will not always feel this way, and due to the natural laws of the universe embodied in our own homeostatic processes, we will naturally and spontaneously progress back towards a happier state over time, irrespective of what we do.  What goes down always comes back up.

Constructive

Experiencing and being able to experience sadness is an important part of healthy emotional behaviour.  An emotionally fit person is able to experience coherent sadness and will usually find the time and space to adequately express and deal with it as required.  For instance loss of a loved one might involve taking time off work for a while, saying good-bye at the funeral, sharing the experience with other people and grieving properly.

Destructive

An emotionally unfit person may not be able to experience sadness coherently and they may instead experience depression.  Depression involves medium to long term experience of negative effect and can be seriously debilitating. It is also the most common of all psychological disorders, affecting about a quarter of the population (in most Western countries) some time in their lives.

In the presentation on stored emotion, we discussed how emotional energy gets stored somehow in the body.  The most likely explanation for the inability to experience an emotion such as sadness properly is when emotional forces applied towards us some time in our lives, are not adequately responded to and the energy gets trapped in the body.  Recall the opponent process theorem discussed in the presentation on emotions obey physical laws, this is equivalent to the person having a highly traumatic event, like skydiving from an airplane for the first time, and then having no safe place to land.  With no safe place to land, the body does not have the opportunity to spontaneously progress back towards a happier state and normal behaviour of the nervous system is blocked.  The energy has to go somewhere, the details of which we are still unsure, but the result is a diminished ability to experience coherent emotions.

Depression is an incoherent emotion of a different sort, in that, because of its persistence and duration, we call it a psychological disorder and can often require medical intervention.

Channelling

Depression can be channelled successfully, by using the experience of the downward pulling emotion to encourage the body to relax.  This is an extension of channelling as described in the presentation on processing and channelling emotion.  Rather than channelling energy into changing body structures, we channel the sense of loss that we feel into relaxing our body in ways that we have perhaps never relaxed before. This can be done using progressive muscle relaxation or any other method, but depression sometimes provides such a powerful sense of futility that it is often not necessary to use anything and it is sufficient just to let the weight of the emotion drag you down into a relaxed state. 

For this to work you do need to be well practised at self-relaxation and it helps to be conversant in other aspects of emotional fitness technology.

The benefit of channelling depressive episodes into self-relaxation is simply that it is possible for you to relax parts of your body in ways that you have never done before.  Once those parts of the body are fully relaxed, and you keep them that way for the duration of the episode, then they are ready to start afresh, in that they are now ready for you to act on them that alters the way that they function.  This means that after you have recovered from the episode, your ability to channel emotional energy into enhancing the way your body works is improved.

If you want to view more detailed presentations on channelling depression then do go to practice.emotfit.com and sign up.  You may also like to subscribe on the Youtube channel here.

Personal example

When I was an adolescent the experience of depression came to me on a few occasions as a powerful downward gravitational pull.  I literally could not stand up, and felt my body falling into the ground.  I found it constructive to channel that sensation by lying on my bed and allowing myself to relax.  Over the decades I used depressive episodes to teach myself to relax and let go.  In the process I would ride out the storm and at the end feel quite relaxed and ready to move on.

Recap

Sadness is a negative emotion that is associated with loss.  A person who is unable to experience sadness coherently may instead experience depression.  It is possible to effectively channel depression into heightened ability to relax.

Challenge to audience

 

References and further reading

X