Saving space allows us exposure to multiple emotions & experiences simultaneously in a healthy, positive way, finding the light within.

I’m sure we all know people, ourselves included, that have been consumed by one particular emotion or another at some point. Despair, grief, sadness, hate, and fear are just a few examples of feelings that can negatively impact our physical and mental health and overall well-being.

The question is, why do we let that happen?  Why aren’t we saving space to experience the positive emotions while we process those that can have a profound negative impact? There is room in our lives to also carry hope, happiness, joy, courage, and love. Over the next two posts, we will talk about some simple ways to find a balance while we work through our emotions.

Despair & Hopehands reaching out, flower growing in clay

Despair

Although often associated, a feeling of despair can happen without being diagnosed with depression. Despair often occurs after a tragic event or sudden loss. We can feel misery, discouragement, agony, distress, and overall hopelessness. In these times, it can lead us to irrational decision-making.

These decisions made in a moment of desperation can be harmful in many ways. Life can seem meaningless; we succumb to impulsiveness and often make panicked, uninformed choices. Such choices can be severe and even dangerous with many negative consequences. We often regret these decisions once we return to our “right minds”.

Our decisions in these moments also affect others, often bringing long-term consequences. Most of our decisions made in a state of panic tend to impact others but we don’t think about that in the moment. We feel so hopeless, that we selfishly think only of ourselves. These actions can make it difficult for others to forgive us and we may do irreparable damage to relationships.

If we can stop for just a few minutes before acting on our thoughts, we can find that glimmer of light deep within and realize there is hope. There is space for both.

Hope

It would certainly be helpful if we could talk with a therapist before making a panicked, rash decision, but better late than never is also good. A therapist can educate us on how to pause and think rationally. We can learn how to handle future events that cause despair. A supportive friend(s) can also provide assistance to help us keep going, no matter how hopeless things might seem.

Feeling hopeful can be good for your well-being and emotional health. It can be tough when you can’t seem to catch a break but working to Get Out of Our Heads is one way we can do this. Believing in ourselves and our goals is important. Positive self-talk is crucial. Reflect on past successes and ways you have overcome despair in the past. Embrace the uncertainty of life; it opens countless doors of possibility. Creativity and humor are also ways to spark the flame of hope. Do some research to see how others have handled problems similar to yours.

No matter the situation, there is always hope. We can save space for both.

white candle on black ribbon; person jumping in air in front of sunsetGrief and Joy

Grief

The passing of a loved one, a terminal diagnosis, a failed intimate relationship, are all examples of when grief may be present. We might feel numb, detached, distracted from daily tasks and more. It’s a natural reaction to a profound loss; the experience is unique to each individual. It’s a process that is out of our control and exists in multiple phases. Time may lessen the pain, but it is always present.

It can be made worse if we are carrying guilt (for example, survivor guilt) and shame about the loss so it’s important to seek out a support group. Contact your local county services (your local United Way, funeral homes, places of worship, medical facilities, therapists and more).

Although people mean well, there should never be an expectation of when to get over grief. If anyone says, “Time to get over it” or, “Move on,” we might want to reconsider who we let in our close tribe.

Joy

What we can do, is not neglect the feeling of joy. Smiling, laughing at a joke, sharing funny stories of our loved ones or our situations is okay. Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, successes we achieve or those of our family and friends should continue. Taking a vacation or class with a different family member or friend is also okay. New experiences can fill our minds, hearts, and souls with joy, and we should never feel guilty about them. They allow us to remember good times, in turn, helping us to begin the healing process.

Save space for both in life.

Sadness and Happiness

Sadness

It happens to all of us at one point or another and can be characterized with feelings of disappointment, low moods, disinterest, and general melancholy. Prolonged sadness can cause loss of appetite, poor sleep habits, irritability, low energy, self-doubt or loathing and reckless behaviors.

Sadness is different from depression as in everyone is sad at some points in life, but not everyone experiences depression. Losses, financial troubles, stress, and strained relationships are common examples. There is usually a specific trigger to the emotion of sadness. Relief can be found in a good cry, venting, a few belly laughs, and great friends. If sadness is prolonged or triggering increased negative thoughts, please seek help from a medical professional or contact The National Suicide Prevention Helpline.

Happiness

We can’t be happy 100% of the time, but we can have fun trying. Happiness is experiencing positive emotions and contentment in the present moment. We feel like the conditions of life are generally good overall. We feel accomplished, satisfied. It’s not a constant state of euphoria or jubilation but rather, an overall sense of more positive feelings than negative.

Happy people experience the negative emotions as well, but when faced with them, they have a greater sense of optimism that things will get better. Ways that we can find happiness in the moment include, celebrating our wins and those of others. Volunteer for an organization whose cause is close to your heart. Take an adventure. Reframe negative thoughts; how can you turn them around and what lesson can you learn. Exercise, keep a gratitude journal, find a sense of purpose.

Positivity and happiness can improve our well-being and emotional health.

Saving space for both the negative and positive is possible and helps us to find balance, improved coping skills, emotional intelligence, and general contentment.

Up next: Fear and Courage & Hate and Love

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