Joy and Sadness

Why, I wonder, are we reluctant to talk about our sadness? A recent conversation has prompted me to think about this question and to explore the relationship between joy and sadness in our lives. Many of us find it much easier to share our joy, to talk about why we are feeling joyful, while silencing our sadness. There may be many reasons for this choice, perhaps reflecting what we believe our sadness says about us or how it affects others. Have we somehow learned that giving voice to our feelings of sadness is unacceptable to those we love? Do we believe that it signals weakness? Do we want to avoid sparking sadness in others, believing that feeling sad can be contagious? Are we ashamed of our sadness?

In a video call with a friend three weeks ago, I asked the simple question, “How are you?” My friend immediately gave what was, or seemed to be, an auto-play response and her words were incongruent with her facial expression, tone of voice, and body language. So, I paused for a moment and said, “How are you? I am really asking.” Her eyes widened and she said, “I decided not to join celebrations for Diwali or Thanksgiving this year, and I am feeling out-of-sorts.” Her eyes filled with tears but she did not cry. Out-of-sorts?

It was clear to me that my friend was sad – very sad, in fact – but over the next several minutes, talking at length about her feelings, she never used the word “sad.” Why? Finally, I asked her and she replied, “I wasn’t sad. I am just trying to understand my decision not to celebrate these two holidays this year.”

I believe that everyone we meet is a teacher who can help us learn a lesson or lessons we are meant to learn in this lifetime. Everyone. So rather than analyze my friend’s reluctance to explore her sadness, I asked myself, “What is my lesson here? Am I as willing to talk about my own sadness as readily as I share my joy.” No! Am I alone in this? I don’t think so.

Most of us love sharing our joy and, for many reasons, we seem to believe that it is much better, more uplifting, more loving and more helpful to express our joy and silence our sadness. In doing this, are we contributing to a collective avoidance of an important emotion in our individual and shared experiences of soul being human? I believe we are. I believe that talking about our sadness helps us process the feeling rather than repressing it, and then it is easier to understand and to release.

What do you think? I very much look forward to reading your thoughts about joy and sadness, so invite you to share them in the “Leave a Comment” section below.

~ I also posted this piece in preparation for guest-hosting Kumud Ajmani’s inspiring weekly #SpiritChat conversation… h

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