Unfriend. Unfollow. Block. Push a button and delete basically… Surely there is an app for that? No? Because you see I don’t want sadness in my group of friends. I don’t want her to stalk my life. I don’t want her to comment on events, my status and my pictures. I want her out. Period.
When you have known depression as numerously and as intensely as I have you feel that, surely, you have exhausted your potential for sadness for the rest of your life. And yet it comes back… Insidiously… Because you are in physical pain. Because you haven’t slept enough. Because things are not going your way. Because…. Why again?
Sadness is like that old highly unpleasant great aunt you don’t want to invite at your wedding and yet she is there and manages to criticise the groom, your dress and the goddamn petits fours.
You are not sure why she is here and yet she overwhelms you, she pulls you in darkness. Sadness makes you doubt yourself and your abilities. She looks at your choices and laughs manically… thriller style… The only words she knows are: What is the point? Why do you bother? Give up already…
Truth is I don’t know why she is still around. Does she have nothing else to do? Someone else to annoy? Places to be? People to see?
In my post on emotions I referenced the amazing book ‘Conversations with God’ that talks, among many, many things, about the 5 emotions that, as human beings, we all go through and need to express, not repress, to continue living our life healthily. Allow me to recap them again:
“Sadness is a natural emotion. It is that part of you that allows to say goodbye to things or people when you lose them. When you are allowed to express it you can move on. Children who were taught not to express their sadness repress it. Repressed it becomes chronical depression. That emotion is not natural or ‘beneficial’.
Anger is a natural emotion. It is the medium that allows to say ‘no thank you’. It doesn’t have to be offending nor harming to anyone. When you are allowed to express it you can move on. Children who were taught not to express their anger repress it. Repressed it becomes rage. That emotion is not natural or ‘beneficial’.
Envy is a natural emotion. It allows to want to redo something, make efforts, continue to fight up until you achieve something. When you are allowed to express it you can move on. Children who were taught not to express their envy repress it. Repressed it becomes jealousy. That emotion is not natural or ‘beneficial’.
Fear is a natural emotion. The aim of the ‘original fear’ (babies, it states, are just afraid of falling and of loud noises, all other fears are taught) is to allow individuals to integrate a certain measure of prudence, to keep the body alive. When you are allowed to express it you can move on. Children who were taught not to express their fear repress it. Repressed it becomes panic. That emotion is not natural or ‘beneficial’.
Love is a natural emotion. Expressed and received naturally, with no limit nor conditions, no inhibition nor shame, it asks for nothing else as it is self sufficient. But conditional love, limited by rules and regulations, rituals and restrictions, manipulated, is not natural. Children who were taught that their natural love is not right, not correct or is shameful repress it. Repressed it becomes possessiveness. That emotion is not natural or ‘beneficial’.”
In recent years I have made progress with anger, with envy, with love and as such I have made progress with the related negative feelings of rage, jealousy and possessiveness. However, fear and sadness are emotions I still struggle with. Granted I don’t go into their magnified versions of panic or depression anymore and yet those emotions are still too present to my liking.
As I write in this instant about those two I actually wonder if they are not linked…
Isn’t it the fear of not being good enough, not ‘achieving’ enough, not aligned with my higher self enough that is causing my sadness?
Is my sadness intricately linked to the judgements I am still holding on myself? The expectations of time and results I fix for myself without even noticing it? A bit like your boss evaluating you without ever sharing your KPIs?
But that is it, isn’t it? Despite my leaving the corporate world, with its share of impossible deadlines and ridiculous benchmarks of performance and success, instinctively I am still putting myself in the same realm of expectations and normative milestones. No one else is doing it but me. Incredible isn’t it? The weight of conditioning, the power of learnt behaviours…
So.. Hang on… Basically, to unfriend sadness I need to unfriend expectations, benchmarks and deadlines… I don’t need to achieve anything particular in any particular timeframe. I just need to be… me… that is all…
Why is it so difficult to be ourselves without any benchmarks of success? Just being. Living each day for what it brings. Sometimes with tons of energy and sometimes with less. Days where you feel you can change the whole world and days where you can’t even change the bed sheets…
Without fixing expectations and deadlines for ourselves does it mean we loose our drive? I think not. We still have our drive but we do not care if things go slow or fast. If our actions trigger appreciation and any pre-defined result or not.
So there it is. My realisation of the day. Expectations, benchmarks and deadlines, however unconscious they might be, are antonymous with happiness. Or at least they generate conditional happiness. We are happy only if we fulfill those expectations, benchmarks and deadlines. If we don’t we are unhappy, we are sad…
So OK, Sadness, this is my plan to unfriend you:
First, I am going to let you hang around a bit because, well, you came in, albeit uninvited, started criticising everything I am doing and I can’t just kick you out.
Express, don’t repress… But I will be ok with it. Today I am tired, I don’t have tons of energy and I am sad. Fine, whatever…
Second, I am going to bring to full consciousness the expectations I set for myself without even realising it.
Third, I am going to wake up tomorrow and every day after that and remember I do not want those expectations, benchmarks and deadlines to rule my life.
The less I will hang on to them, the less you will have grip over me. Because I will just be happy to be, to live, to love, even if I don’t get any gold stars for that, even if nobody cares. Just because I care, I want to be happy and that is more than enough.