If I had a dollar for every time someone has said that they’re “depressed”, I’d be rich by now. You see, being a Mental Health therapist, it’s hard to ignore someone that says that to you. I take it seriously— very seriously. Hearing that word compels me to ask a myriad of questions to get to the heart of the situation. Hearing that word puts me on high alert to closely evaluate the true meaning of their statement.
In today’s world, “I’m depressed” can take on a whole different meaning. Often, they’re trying to say, “I’m sad”, or “I’m very unhappy”. That’s vastly different from “I’m depressed”. Feeling sad is a pretty normal emotion over a lifetime. It’s a given that people will experience situations that will make them sad. However, for many people, the minute that they feel a negative, uncomfortable emotion, they don’t quite know what to do with it. It seems as if having any tolerance for uncomfortable emotions has been drastically reduced for many of us. Our ability to ride the waves— a sign of resilience, has diminished.
Our culture is filled with messages that tell us that life’s expectation is to be blissfully happy. We should strive to find happiness in our careers, our relationships and beyond. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Personally, I want to be happy too. However, I realize that life is filled with normal ups and downs. Not every minute of your life is going to be filled with the good stuff. This belief has become deeply ingrained in our culture, which leaves many of us to feel that we’re losing out on the good life.
The truth is that feeling sad, angry, and hurt does serve a purpose. In fact, it can be very good for you.
Negative emotions spur us on to change our lives. They give us the strength and push to go after that new position we want in our career, or finally take that leap in our business. It’s the impetus for us to sever a bad relationship or finally move out on our own. It protects us from staying in dangerous situations where we can be hurt. It encourages us to have that “aha!” moment in our careers.
The truth is that we need our negative emotions to help us become the best version of ourselves.
Instead of trying to numb our feelings when we’re down or sad, maybe we should search within to discover how we can grow from the experience. Ask yourself this question:
What is my sadness and pain trying to tell me? What do I need to change?
I believe each one of us needs to reset our “happiness meter” a bit. We should consider that being content is a good goal as we ride the waves of life. Emotions are the barometer that helps us gauge what CHANGES we need to make in our life. Learn to walk through your sad feelings and you’ll find that you like what’s waiting on the other side.