Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12)
Do you always need to be happy? Do you always need to feel joy?
What if I told you that it is ok to sit in your sadness. It is ok to feel down and depleted.
I have found that over the years whenever I was going through a difficulty or challenge, I was told by some to “just think positive” and that “good vibes only” were allowed. How unhealthy and devasting these words can be for someone in the valley. To not give someone permission to feel sad or down, prevents that person from fully healing. If we don’t feel the pain, we don’t allow ourselves to feel the anguish (and yes it hurts to do this), if we just brush it under the rug or strive to feel happy, this can prevent healing from occurring. Only when we have been to rock bottom, only when we have felt the full force of hurt and pain, instead of pretending to be happy. Only then can we then start to rise to the top.
For example, when I was in a car accident where someone died, it left me traumatised and depressed. It was a horrible, rock bottom moment in my life, where I lost all hope. If I didn’t go through the emotions and the suffering that came after that car accident, if I kept those emotions locked down and hidden, then I would be living with anxiety, fear, anguish, and pain. Not only have I spent years healing from that fatal day, but I also allowed myself to grieve, to go through that horrible valley of pain. It was not convenient. It wasn’t what I wanted to feel. It made me pause and stop pressing forward at that moment in time. It made me focus on the pain so I could understand it, learn from it, and heal from it. I experienced every part of grieving, it felt like regurgitating something ugly inside. Once it was out, once I had spoken about it, sought help and attention from doctors, only then, could it be fully released from my body so I could live happy and whole. Now as a healed woman, I can not only live a full life of joy, I can also pass on my joy to others. None of that would have been able to happen if I suppressed my feelings during that horrible dark time.
A popular article published by Forbes Media talks about happiness…”Let’s face it, if happiness was as achievable as simply deciding to be happy, there’d be a whole lot more happy people. Yet not only is happiness, not something we can “just choose,” when we put pressure on ourselves to feel happy, but it can also inadvertently set us on a warpath with ourselves.” (Forbes – Still not happy?)
I have found the reason that we need to allow ourselves to feel sad and to feel the emotions of trauma, disappointment, loss, and anger is so we can heal. Without grieving, without feeling all the feels, we can not get from one mountain top to another. Every mountain top has a valley in between. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the meaning of a valley “An elongate depression of the earth’s surface usually between ranges of hills or mountains”. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
We are doing ourselves a disservice if we don’t stop and experience the emotions of the loss, the pain, and the agony. If we think we are better than these emotions or stronger than one who has to feel them, then we will be injuring ourselves emotionally in the future. Someone will eventually move that rug where you have suppressed those feelings because you just didn’t want to experience them. Someone will move that rug and at that point, convenient or not, all your hurt and pain will emerge. Even if someone has not moved the rug just yet, your choices, actions, and behaviours may be influenced by the suppressed pain. Would you keep running on a sprained ankle or would you stop and allow it to heal so that you can run freely? We all have to deal and grieve properly to live a healthy life. Why don’t you take some time today to stop and reflect on the pain that you know is buried deep down inside. Try to allow yourself permission to experience the sadness that comes with loss, don’t suppress it, be brave, and courageous. Clean out your pain so that you can then go onto your dreams and goals unhindered and free.
Margie Warrell for Fobes Media talks about Tal Ben-Shahar, author of Being Happy and creator of the most popular class in the history of Harvard University; “In a conversation about his research for my podcast, he began by pointing out that there are only two types of people who don’t experience painful emotions. The first: psychopaths. The second: people who’ve died. His point (besides the obvious benefit of not falling in either category) is that painful emotions are part and parcel of life and when we deny, dismiss, numb or try to distract ourselves from feeling them fully – something many is highly adept at doing – we only perpetuate our pain and create unnecessary suffering.” (Margie Warrell)
What I have learned from going through the sad and unpleasant emotions and sitting with them in the valley is that I would have to do it eventually. No one can suppress their sadness and hurt and expect to live a long and healthy life. I have learned that even if I didn’t want to experience the pain (and who does?) then I was depriving myself of joy. See, you can live a half-hearted life or you can choose to live a full and joyous life. If you desire the later, you must first be brave enough to feel the pain. “Weeping may go on all night, but in the morning there is joy”. (Psalm 30:5)