October 14, 2016

How we can help each other to be Sad (& feel Okay about It).

I have a confession to make.

I’ve been a bit sad lately.

Yep. Just plain sad.

And now I feel like I’ve just walked through the trendiest restaurant in town with toilet paper stuck to my shoe, because admitting I have been feeling sad isn’t cool, sexy or exciting.

I also worry it might make you uncomfortable to know I’ve been a bit melancholy lately. And lord knows, a life coach isn’t supposed to make you feel uncomfortable! I’m supposed to stick to, “The Universe and I are totally killing this life thing together” kinds of Facebook posts and blogs. And yes, I am fortunate to feel that way a lot of the time. But, because of some recent events in my life, I’ve also been feeling sad.

Believe me, I fought this whole sad thing with a vengeance. I tried to be angry. “Surely there is someone or something I can blame for this feeling?” I thought. Yes—anger! Let’s try anger. Anger is righteous, powerful and even kind of badass.

But nope—being angry didn’t seem to help.

Hmmm…maybe I’ll try being a victim. I mean, how could anything sad happen to little ol’ me? I’ve been good. I’ve chosen to follow my heart. I try my best to be honest and kind to everyone.

Yep, I’ve been screwed. Life is being totally unfair, and someone or something needs to help me out of this pain. I mean, “Hellooooo Universe! If you were kind at all, you would save me from this horrible thing called sadness!”

But no person or thing seemed to be able to rescue me from sad-town.

So what the heck should I do now? Just feel…sad? Oh, no. That sounds so gross. So pitiful. Definitely not life coach material.

Or, is it?

Feeling sad is one of the most alive experiences we encounter. Perhaps that’s why we’re so scared of it. We feel it in our bodies. Our stomach turns. Our heart seems to actually ache in our chest. Our confident swagger slows to heavy, clunky steps. Our throat convulses in an effort to control our sobbing.

It ain’t pretty. But my gawd, it’s real. No wonder we try to numb our sadness with short-term salves like alcohol, food, meaningless hook-ups and Netflix binges.

The most panicked calls, texts and emails I receive from clients are when they are beginning to feel the dark clouds of sadness rolling in. They are scared. And honestly, these sweet, panicked pleas for help used to scare the beejebus out of me too. I mean, I better have the right thing to say. They are paying me to make their lives happier for gosh-sakes!

And when I was first starting out, I would try my best to talk people out of their sadness—a sort of pep talk/ tap dance routine that left us both looking at each other thinking, “This is bullsh*t.” I was doing this because I was just as scared of sadness as they were.

After some time and some valiant but failed attempts at avoiding and eradicating sadness, I realized that there is simply no way around it. We just have go through the eye of the storm. We don’t have to go through it alone, but we do have to go through it to get to the other side.

So, if and when you get a taste of that oh-so-real experience of sadness, I’m not going to try to talk you out of it any more. I’m not going to look at you with panic-stricken eyes and start my awkward pep talk/ tap dance routine in an effort to “fix” your unseemly condition. Because you aren’t doing anything wrong by feeling sad. And despite how it may feel, you are not going to explode into a million pieces.

I am not going to be able to take your sadness away, but I will do this:

I’ll remind you that you can handle it. I’ll never stop believing in you and your ability to handle difficult things.

I’ll remind you of your inner strength, and of your commitment to live with authenticity and integrity despite what life throws at you.

I’ll remind you to love your perfectly imperfect self.

I’ll be here for you if you need me.

And of course, I’ll always tell you if you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe.


Bonus: They’re giving you bad advice on what to do about Fear.


Author: Amanda McPherson

Image: M Yashna/ Flickr

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

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