The Sadness Facade is a tricky one. I have used it for a lot of my life. Weirdly, my sadness came from my desire to connect with others. As you get older you realize how many people have been abused or gone through trauma as a child. As a female, you are surrounded by eating disorders, lack of self esteem and so on. I didn’t have to endure these things. Weirdly, this made me feel a lack of connection with others. One of the biggest human needs is for love and connection. It’s all I wanted.
So I became sad. I found reasons, I marinated in them and manipulated myself to feel sad. Then I used that sadness to connect with other people. This started in my teens. I was a poet and a “closet emotional” and my sadness facade came about because of negative reinforcement. I noticed that if I was happy, confident, liked myself, etc. that people would become angry or put off by me. Because my ultimate goal was for love, connection and caring for others I felt that my happiness and contentment would make people feel worse about themselves so in order to protect them from my happiness I became sad.
Sometimes sadness is real in me. I have gone through hard things. This is not the sadness I am speaking of. Situational sadness and grieving are necessary. It’s when sadness becomes a lifestyle that holds us back from true joy and love for ourselves that it is a problem. It’s when we actually go to the point of changing our physiology to become sad when we’re either bored or desire to connect with others.
The equation goes:
I get sad=I get attention from others
I get sad=People feel sorry for me and connect with me
I get sad=I feel a deep sense of meaning
I get sad=I connect with myself in a deep way
I get sad=Bad things are happening everywhere and so I have to be sad
I get sad=People will see me as heartless if I don’t
Sometimes we aren’t actually sad, we just feel like we have to be for some reason and so we trick ourselves into it. We are “doing” sad. We hold ourselves in that place for so many reasons. A few of mine were:
-Connecting with myself
-Connecting with others
-Fear of succeeding
-Fear of making other people feel bad about themselves
-Feeling like I would be judged if I didn’t mourn the bad things happening in the world
-Getting reinforced when others would share their sadness with me
My power does not last long when I’m sad. I may have written a few great poems that way (which was another reason I liked being sad) but ultimately it keeps me from growing.
Sadness as a lifestyle is not helpful. Our culture tells us to be happy, love yourself, live without fear...but then if you actually do it people say, “You can’t be THAT happy.” “You’re conceited/arrogant.”
The feedback comes from other people's insecurities. All my life I’ve been trying to protect those people by not showing up fully in my life. I’ve been trying to protect people with insecurities by staying in sadness and discontent. I learned these things a few years ago and constantly have to work on understanding my state of being.
If we understand how we create our sadness facade then we can change.
It’s time to get sad. Answer these questions and outline how to get sad:
What do I do with my body when I get sad?
What is my posture? Where do I go?
What is my internal dialogue?
What am I saying to myself in this moment?
What could snap you out of this feeling?
If your friend was feeling this way what would you say to them?
Understanding what we do with our body and mind when we “get sad” is key to changing the pattern. You start to realize that you actually willingly change your physiology to create and environment for sadness. But we can only be sad for so long...what happens when we get tired of feeling sad?
When I get tired of being sad for so long where do I go from there?
Do you snap out of sadness with anger?
How does this anger make you feel?
Does it make you feel in control again?
How does your posture and body change when you go from sadness to anger?
In Psychology this is coined as “The Crazy 8”. Not only do humans have the need for love and connection, they also need variety and certainty. Going back and forth from sadness to anger creates this variety. Getting angry makes us feel in control again after being sad for too long. Unfortunately this pattern keeps us stagnant. We feel like we’re doing something by getting angry but soon we’ll slump back into sadness and lose that momentum. It keeps us stuck.
In order to get out of this pattern let’s do a little exercise.
Think of a time you felt accepted and understood by someone.
Think of a time you felt victorious.
Remember a time you felt excited about something.
How did the moments leading up to this feel?
Think of a time you felt peace.
Where were you? What made you feel that way?
In what moments have you felt the most free?
Who are the people you love?
How do you show them your love for them?
How do they show you love?
Think about those moments with them.
These are SPARKS.
The places, emotions, relationships and activities where we lose our holdbacks.
Where we feel that warmth in our gut and that excitement.
Staying in sadness, anger, anxiety, or whatever emotion you struggle with, will ultimately hold you back from what you’re meant to do. We are manipulating ourselves into those emotions so when we change our posture, our thoughts, our self-talk, we can snap out of them and accomplish what we are meant for. We can find our strengths if we stop holding ourselves back.
The exercise above is meant to get you excited. It’s meant to transport you into the moments and memories in your life where you felt the most alive. Meditate on those memories, draw them into yourself and transport them into the future. We’ve all overcome things, experience adventure, recklessness, excitement, happiness, love, acceptance and so on. We can cultivate THESE emotions instead of emotions like sadness. The first step is realizing that we hold ourselves in those emotions because we are meeting our needs. We have to learn to meet our needs for love, connection, significance, certainty, variety and contribution in other/healthy ways.
Are you getting off on sadness or some other detrimental emotion?
Bailey Patrice & Jonathan David