Have you ever felt ashamed of your sadness? Like, when you feel low but force yourself to look on the bright side?
You shouldn’t feel ashamed to admit when you’re unhappy. It’s natural for feelings to ebb and flow.
I loved the movie Inside Out, a Disney film my kids and I went to see years ago. It acknowledged the importance of expressing all our emotions.
And rather than labeling them good or bad, they all had a job to do.
It turned out Sadness had the most important job of all. She showed up when the protagonist needed help and made sure she got it.
In my post on emotional neglect, I touched on the tendency to fear so-called negative emotions. To label them good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable.
I will expand on that concept here and describe the purpose of these emotions. 4 reasons to embrace rather than fear anger and sadness.
4 reasons to embrace anger
1. Anger that manages to stay under wraps will eventually cause physical illness.
I read about monks who refused to acknowledge their anger and showed higher rates of diabetes. This, despite the fact their diets were healthier than average.
So, stuffed anger can be a good deal more dangerous than expressed rage.
2. Anger helps you know when something is not working.
It might be that you are being mistreated and disrespected. You might need to remove yourself from the situation.
Or take a serious look at what needs to change in your life so you are treated the way you deserve.
3. Anger can help you see where you have internal work to do.
For instance, if you feel angry at being asked to do something. It could be that you are uncomfortable setting boundaries.
Anger at the person asking is masking your guilt around setting boundaries. So, now you know what you need to work on.
4. Anger can also act as a signal for others to stay away from you.
That way you have space and time to work out your feelings without hurting anyone.
4 reasons to embrace sadness
1. Suppressing sadness can have the counter-intuitive effect of making you more depressed.
Refusing to acknowledge sadness takes away the opportunity to deal with things that might be causing the pain. This keeps you feeling stuck and hopeless.
2. Sadness helps you slow down and look at a problem.
When felt and processed it can lead to personal growth and healthy change. When it’s denied, however, things stay the same and that may not be a good thing.
3. When acknowledged, sadness gives us an opportunity to turn inward.
Not in a selfish way but in an honest way. It says, things are not okay and we need to find out why. It helps us connect with ourselves.
4. It’s also a time to draw near to God.
I’ve never felt closer to my savior then during periods of intense sadness.
You might feel scared to surrender to your sadness because you fear where it will take you. In my experience, it’s never as bad as you think it will be.
(Unless you’re dealing with depression which is a different issue and not covered here.)
When I first started to allow myself time to sink into sadness I assumed it would put me out for days. Truth is, even the most intense feeling of sadness would see me recover in less than a day.
I’m sure my dependence on God has a lot to do with that manageable time frame. It’s in my weakness His strength is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Cultural importance of sadness and anger
These so-called negative emotions of anger and sadness have benefits beyond our personal lives. Famous paintings like The Scream have depended on their artist’s lower moods for their inspiration.
When Munch painted his masterpiece, his sister had been committed to an insane asylum. He said the inspiration for the work came from a scream he heard in nature while taking a walk during this hard time.
Handel wrote his most famous composition Messiah only after grappling with dark feelings. Beethoven’s most inspiring symphonies (including the Fifth) came out of his sadness.
Virginia Woolf, John Keats, and Vincent Van Gogh also produced their finest creations while struggling emotionally.