“If I ever become a real artist I’ll make a series of sketches called Sad People. All kinds of people – age, ethnicity, culture – will be represented with the common denominator being a sadness that jumps out at you. Then I’ll have a gallery and people will come…it’ll be like a sad room…a place for people to feel their sadness.”
“Hmm…the sad room…so do you think there are more sad people than happy people?”
“For sure! I mean, hopefully, everyone has felt happy and sad at some point in their lives…but sadness seems to me to be harder to express.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, let’s see…it seems like everything to do is for happy people. Happy people go out, party, see a movie, go to a park…all things fun need to have happy people to use them. A sad person isn’t going to have so much fun at a party unless they’re drunk, and then it’s not really so fun, and a movie to a sad person is just an escape…a restaurant means tasteless food or trying to fill a hole with food…and who wants to sit in the park with sadness? So what I’m saying is that happiness is automatically validated by societal norms. Happy people are productive people who know how to utilize their time in this world for work and play.”
“Ok, sounds interesting. Now, what about the sad people?”
“I think – and this is totally me and my theories – I think that sad people never get their sadness validated and so it just sits inside and spirals…adding to more sad feelings and more spiraling…let’s call it the Sadness Effect.”
“Huh. So being sad isn’t accepted.”
“I don’t think it’s not accepted – I mean everyone gets sad…it’s just that it’s not validated. How many people can actually validate sadness for someone? How do you do it? From what I’ve seen and experienced with my own sadness – when I tell someone about it they either become sad with me or take a step back and leave me with a feeling that has nowhere to go but back inside to fester.”
“I see. So how do you validate sadness?”
“I think you have to really listen. Like, when someone says they’re sad, you have to let them know that you understand that they are sad. You can’t try to make them happy or explain why it’s not worth being sad because then you are essentially telling them that the sad feeling has no right to be – totally invalidating the feeling, leading to another kind of sadness and loneliness as the person who is seeking validation realizes how misunderstood they are…it’s a terrible cycle. And then, after too many times of getting their sadness thrown to the side, they don’t want to talk about it and try to pretend to be happy – however that may be – and then we get this whole ‘running after happiness’ trend that all started because no one ever said – ‘hey, you’re sad. I get that. Let’s sit with the sadness for a bit and try to understand it.’ Validating a feeling means giving it a right to exist on its own. You can’t say ‘everyone feels sad’ or ‘it’ll pass’ cause that makes the feeling less unique. You gotta say something along the lines of ‘I see that you’re sad. I’m sorry you’re sad. Let me know if or when you want to talk about it and I can do my best to be there for you.’ You know, like a kid who wants validation for his sadness, he just comes for a hug. You got to give verbal hugs out when you’re confronted by sadness.”
“So what about those people who get sad with you when you’re sad?”
“That’s the other kind of bad sadness conduct. People can’t handle another person’s sadness as a separate person, so they use it to try to validate their own sadness, negating the original sadness and creating a neat little ‘let’s be sad together and feed each other sad pills’ scenario.”
“Isn’t that co-dependency?”
“For sure. That’s why these co-dependent relationships are all the rage. You get to be sad together – gee, how fun.”
“This is all intriguing – go on.”
“Ok – so the answer to all the sad people is to teach everyone how to validate. Then, you feel sad, you express, it’s validated, you move on and don’t sit in it forever and ever. If everyone learned how to look past themselves and just allow other people to feel things and not take it on or step away, then the answer is solved.”
“How would you teach people to do that though?”
“Simple – if you’re the type of person who steps back, so push your instinct aside for a second and step forward. If you’re the type of person who gets too involved, take a step back. It’s just a small step, but it changes everything.”
“I like this. I think you really got something here.”
“Well, anyway – back to my sad room. I’m going to make sadness an outing. All these happy people get to have fun…sad people are welcome to come to my gallery and cry. It’ll be a sad party. It’ll be fun.”
5 thoughts on “The Sadness Effect”
Whoa! Super Coach!
I think it’s a brilliant idea! A great place for everyone to cry and talk, about all those things that “happy people” don’t like, or know how to touch…
I would totally go there.
Genuis! I couldn’t be nodding my head anymore. You have head the nail on the head. Let people feel what they truly feel and stop trying to convince them that they feel otherwise.
Or you could just reread Ernest Hemingway.
I kid. Intriguing post.