Spiritual growth inevitably involves allowing illusions to die. And as long as we are striving and using willful intent, life will continue to break our hearts. It wears us down until we are able to surrender and accept things as they are (and not as we need them to be).
So how do we allow ourselves to accept loss and feel sadness without getting mired in self-pity and depression?
We have to feel the pure emotion without identifying with it. It is ceasing to attach to the feeling. We are not sad or down or depressed- we are merely experiencing sadness. While this may seem like a subtle distinction, it makes all the difference in the world.
We actually experience feelings relatively quickly. When we grieve something, it often comes in waves. We might feel sadness when the sun goes down and then laugh with a friend later that evening. Then we feel happy to be alive in the morning, but feel another wave of sadness at lunch.
It is only through attaching to the sadness that we stay in an extended sad state. And experiencing sadness does not have to incapacitate us. We do not need to cease living our life to feel the sadness. It fact, sometimes keeping ourselves moving forward prevents us from reacting to the sadness and indulging in self-pity.
Self-pity is incredibly seductive. It releases endorphins and is very addictive. Pretty soon we are not feeling the sadness anymore, but the chemical reaction to it. And it “hurts so good,” to quote John Mellencamp.
But until we feel the natural sadness and loss that is there, without morphing it into something else, the sadness will not release. So it keeps lingering there just below the surface reinforcing the story we tell ourselves that we are in an extended state of sadness.
About the Author
I, Michael Hoffman, am a licensed psychotherapist, teacher, and author with 25 years experience in counseling and teaching experiential workshops. I have maintained this blog since 2009, and my second book Natural Way of Being will published in 2019.
I offer in-person and video-conferencing counseling, intensive workshops, and online courses to allow participants to directly experience their natural way of being and the life they would have for themselves.