Discovering the good sides of sadness

girl sitting with sadness

Repressed, scorsed, hidden, however sadness is the emotion that allows to give up… to better advance and even create.

You have a heavy heart and you struggle not to let the tears begin to sting your eyes? Do not do anything, let go of this flood that seeks to rise in you: feel sadness, and accept it, is more beneficial than you think. “When a patient is able to feel it and starts crying, I often think” it’s won “, says psychiatrist Stéphanie Hahusseau, author, including a man, a true: dispelling emotional misunderstandings between men and women (ed. Odile Jacob). “Because it means that the blockage in which his entire emotional system was stuck is getting undone.”

This specialist of emotions goes even further: to accept to be crossed by this sadness is to prepare the ground for pleasant sensations, calm, blessed. “Think of the big grief of the child,” continues Stephanie Hahusseau: he grows, reaches a peak with big Sobs, then descends, calms and the child is then again able to find strategies to play, taste, do sports…

“A new version of ourselves”

The same is true of adults: by letting live this emotion judged “negative”, it is seen that it is actually a phenomenon limited in time (one hour according to the experts) which often leaves room in the following days to a feeling of lightness. This is because, when it is “pure”, “primary”, the sadness activates the autonomic nervous system and in particular the parasympathetic branch, that in charge of the decrease of the heart and respiratory rhythm, the muscular relaxation, the functioning optimal digestive, sexual… “Observing this activation via a sound recording device produces a positive reinforcement. You can learn to cry with serenity because you feel in your body that “it feels good”, says the psychiatrist.

The American comic Louie CK-a huge star in the United States-has recently made this paradox one of the highlights of one of his television performances: he explained how not to turn on his Smartphone or computer when you feel sad, exceeding those few minutes when one wants to block everything then allows to “let happiness happen”. “It’s so good, so poetic sadness, that you have to let it live!”

For this emotion is undoubtedly the one closest to acceptance and rerunning. “It happens when the inevitable is necessary, when we lose something or someone and no one can give them to us again,” writes historian Tiffany Watt Smith, author of the BOOK OF HUMAN EMOTIONS (profile books).

It is therefore paradoxically an energy that allows us to say goodbye, to leave an image of oneself, an ideal or a material, emotional situation before moving on to something else. “It is this process through which, after a period of loss or disappointment, we prepare a new version of ourselves.”

Cultural factor

But then, why so much rejection, why does sadness not appear to us as a natural companion of our lives? For Stéphanie Hahusseau, it is the cultural factor that is at stake: “children are encouraged to repress their sadness by saying” stop crying, it is nothing “, or if, as a child, a benevolent Entourage does not help you to express your sorrow, it remains Tapie. “

Another cultural factor: in men, sadness is devalued, in women, one of the only emotions allowed when anger is forbidden. These emotional diktats blur the recognition of what is really happening in itself. The emotions, which could be experienced in their primary form, are hidden by “paravents” emotions that make them more complex: “With people caught in a unique and intense emotional register – all the time angry or scared all the time – coming back to body awareness, to sensations, often allows us to find distress. “

What “serves” the most sadness is the societal fear of depression, which has the same characteristics at a time T as sadness but is distinguished by its duration. The paradox is that by refusing to accept his sadness with kindness, we may develop a depressive state.

Crossed and lived in consciousness, sadness can take on beautiful colors. Nostalgic, she brings us back to beloved places. In the form of regrets, it pushes us to act differently. In Portugal, we celebrate the Saudade, that feeling of missing someone or something that will come back; in the United States, the blues has given an unmeasurable force to the slaves… Yes, knowing how to be sad is often becoming able to enlarge our humanity.