On Sadness and Self-acceptance
Until recently, I’ve been critical of feeling sad. I am only now just beginning to accept that sometimes I feel sad. I am used to perceiving my sadness as an indication that there is something really wrong with me, as if I am somehow broken and irreparably damaged. Being sad meant I was weak and vulnerable and unworthy of love. I don’t like being sad, and in the past, whenever I felt even a hint of melancholy, I did my best to talk myself out of it and deny myself the opportunity to feel anything but happy. So although I have committed to being kinder to myself, it is difficult to suspend judgment when I feel sad, lonely, or isolated.
Today I found myself on several occasions sadly sitting at my desk listening to my colleagues engaged in different conversations some of them work related while others were of a more personal nature. As I sat alone in my cubical, somewhat in my own little world, I tried to practice observing myself feeling a range of unpleasant emotions from sadness to irritation to loneliness. I fought the urge to tell myself that I shouldn’t feel those emotions and that I should think about all of the people in my life who love me. I fought the urge to suppress what I was going through as I listened to all the conversations going on around me. I wanted to escape, but to escape would be to abandon myself. So I sat there experiencing the pain, close to tears at times feeling silly and uncomfortable about feeling isolated and alone.
For the most part, I get along with my colleagues. I have pleasant conversations with them and most of my fellow teachers are warm and welcoming. So when I get this way, I wonder from where the emotions are coming. I observe them and their affect on me as they run through me and I try not to justify them. These unpleasant emotions last for a few minutes and then pass and I realize it is not so bad to feel sad once in a while.
Observing the loneliness and the sadness and accepting myself as I experience the pain of not fitting in, I realize that I love myself a little more deeply having allowed myself to sit with the sadness without rationalizing it away. As I walk home from work, there is a smile on my face not because I talked myself out of an unpleasant emotion, but because I allowed myself to feel the emotion without judgment and with loving compassion.
It is in that moment when I am aware of that acceptance that I begin to cheer up, and I think about days when I will have a deep sense of belonging, and the people surrounding me will want to spend time with me no matter how I feel. Like I am beginning to do for myself, the people who I will attract into my life will be able to sit with me when I am sad, and be okay with that. I think as I begin to give myself unconditional love, I will begin to recognize those who can do the same for me, and from that realization springs a feeling of joy and peace, and a certainty that I’m okay even when I’m feeling sad, lonely, or isolated.
Until next time, I wish you all the best.