It’s okay to be sad. I am sad and have been for a few weeks. This past month has been a whopper, and not in a greasy burger kind of way. As a stylist I spend a lot of personal time with my clients and over the years we have become close. I have been called the “Hairapist” many times and my chair is known as the safe dumping ground. Whatever is said in the chair stays in the chair. Ninety per cent of the time I am all good with that. The upside is that I get to experience all the intimate details that people tell me: the blissful weddings and the fun stories of love and romance. However, there is a downside. I also get all the intimate details of a broken heart, finding out that you have a terminal disease and watching your buddy die of cancer at age 48.
I came home a few nights ago in tears. Why? Because I was sad, really sad. Over the past few months I have experienced so much death and illness. Tragic accidents, families losing their fathers, babies never seeing their daddies, awesome amazing women fighting cancer, young women dying suddenly, buddies losing their cancer battle and hilarious, vibrant girlfriends diagnosed with incurable illnesses that cause unbearable pain. Last week I came home from a week away, poured myself a glass of wine and sat on the floor and cried. I cried for all those people who had lost someone, I cried for those people that had to face their illness, I cried for all the people that were in pain and I cried for myself and my own broken heart. I cried and just let myself be sad. The next morning I looked in the mirror, I mean I really looked in the mirror. What did I see? I did not see my usual bright, clear eyes. I saw foggy eyes that were really sad. So I decided to just let myself be sad for a while and this is what I discovered:
- No one wants you to be sad. In a society where we are always trying to be happy, it is now weird to be sad. But the truth is we are all, or have been at times, sad, depressed or unhappy. Instead of dealing with why we are unhappy, we just cover up our sadness and cover it up huge. We take pills, smoke weed, drink wine, or do all three to avoid being unhappy and avoid what is causing us to be sad. But this doesn’t work because the next day the temporary happiness has faded and we are still sad, and most times we are even sadder.
- People don’t know how to deal or respond to sadness. I learned years ago that it is better to embrace emotions and be honest about how you feel. So over the past few weeks if someone asked me how I was doing, I have been honest and responded with “I’m okay” or “I suck.” The response I get is normally, “Just okay?” or “What?”
Everyone wants me to answer the usual, “I’m great” or “life is awesome.” If they ask what is wrong, I usually answer with, “I’m just sad.” This leads to a blank face. No one knows what to say when someone admits they are sad. The responses were avoidance (the eye glance away, half-hearted hug and then the bolt), resistance (the sorry, I can’t take on your stuff right now and the conversation then shifted back to them) and denial, and I got this one a lot (oh you’re okay, there is nothing wrong, just be happy). There is only one person who got it – she responded with, “That’s great, be sad! When you are done, there is only one way to go and that is up. Then you will get happy again.”
- Everyone assumes that I am depressed and should go to the doctor. This one blew my mind. The backroom discussion that I overhead was, “OMG, she is sad . . . maybe she is depressed and needs some anti-depressants!” Now don’t get me wrong . . . sometimes people do need help. Especially when they are seriously depressed, not working, avoiding people and not taking care of themselves. Yes, get some help. But what is wrong with being sad? We can watch violent TV shows where people are killed, cut up, burned, raped and have no emotional reactions to this violence, thinking it’s entertainment, but we don’t know what to do or say when someone is sad. Our first reaction is, “OMG, she is depressed, maybe she should see a doctor and get a pill.”
- Close your eyes in a comfortable sitting position where you are undisturbed.
- Note your age and how many years you can expect to live. Now imagine how you would feel if you knew you were going to die two years from now. What would you do differently in your life?
- Now think about how precious life is. Who would you want to tell that you love them? What would you want to do with your remaining time? Would you want to get closer to your family, friends and partner? Would you quit your job, travel and do what inspires you?
- After about 10 minutes, write down everything you imagined you would do. Make doing these things a priority in your life today.
I had many things written down that I imagined I would do. It is an amazing meditation (and I would highly recommend doing it) because it reminded me that the one thing in life that I love to do is have fun. Why? Because I get inspired by meeting other people who are happy and living life. But what I realized is that inspiration can come in many ways and sometimes it comes by being sad. So being sad is just as important as being happy.
A few months ago I was told that I was too emotional. I laughed and replied, “Actually, I am not too emotional I just express my emotions instead of keeping them locked inside.”
So yes, when I am excited, I am enthusiastic, I laugh and maybe jump around. When I am happy and loving, I hug and maybe kiss friends and smile at people on the street that I don’t know. When I am sad, I keep to myself, am unmotivated and I sometimes cry. This is normal. As humans, we have emotions – it is the gateway to our inspiration. Our emotions tell us how we truly feel and should be openly expressed. Suppressing them causes your body to be in dis-ease and you end up getting sick. We are not meant to medicate our emotions or avoid them. Having ups and downs is what makes us grow and evolve; it also makes us appreciate the good times. How can you truly be grateful for what you have if you have never hit rock bottom?
Life is too short . . . so express how you feel, be happy, be sad, be clear. Enjoy the ups, embrace the downs, and remember that we cannot control how or when we go upstairs. But we can change and prioritize our lives to live every moment, be with the ones we love, be kind to those around us, and live life to the fullest.