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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

Why Am I So Sad? 9 Possible Causes You Shouldn’t Ignore

Why Am I So Sad? 9 Possible Causes You Shouldn’t Ignore

Expressing emotions is difficult as it’s not always encouraged in society. People rely on comfort zones and a secure mask to get them through the day. You may feel emotions stirring and wonder, “Why am I so sad?” and not know where to begin in how to answer that.

In a way, being sensitive can be looked down upon. We ignore warning signs of sadness, depression and other forms of suffering because having feelings is something we cannot be open about in society. Stigma stifles us from speaking up.

It shouldn’t be something we are afraid of. With the release or catharsis of emotion, we find resilience and who we want to be. Sadness is one emotion of many. But it’s often the one most ignored. We don’t want to appear weak to others, or even to ourselves.

Ignoring sadness leads to repression. It may also lead to depression.

There is a difference between sadness and depression. Sadness you feel, depression may lead into numbness, intense sadness or a heaviness that cannot be easily coped with. You may go through all your coping skills for sadness, and it may still be there if it’s depression.

Typically, sadness is fleeting and brought on by something; it comes and goes, whereas depression holds us down for long periods of time maybe lasting weeks or so. It’s where we are in a hole we feel we cannot climb out of by ourselves, but we are even more afraid to ask for help.

When you are feeling sad, you are most likely feeling alone. You are most likely feeling helpless. You feel like it’s the end of the world or that you can’t go on. It’s a grief of something. But part of depression is feeling this way almost nonstop at a depth that can overrule your behavior.

When you feel sad, you may be at a juncture in life of confusion. Where do I go from here? What next? Or even, what is worth holding onto?

Do you find yourself hiding away from the world in shame or confusion?

Do you find yourself feeling hollow or empty, even though more tears may come up?

Do you find yourself feeling lost?

These are the key components to both sadness and depression. Sadness may hold on but it doesn’t linger. Depression doesn’t let go.

Seek a professional to help assist with either, but for now, reasoning through the causes may help to identify a way for a solutions.

Here’re 9 possible causes of you sadness that you shouldn’t ignore:

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1. Lack of Support System

We need people to know who we really are. We need moments of vulnerability or opening up to one another to feel safe and secure. When we can tell others what we are going through, we feel a sense of clarity and release.

We feel obligated to be our own heroes. We feel like we need to hold on rather than let go and let others in. When this happens, sadness increases, and we are no longer engaged with those we love.

People overwhelm us with their ability to smile, carry on and even be functional. But that’s not always their truth either. When sadness hits, we have to tell someone and build a support system. We may find we have some thing about ourselves in common with others.

Find people you trust: professionals, friends and family that you can turn to when going through a hard time. Let them in. You are not alone in this. You just need to allow others to see your weaknesses, which aren’t even true weaknesses. Feeling sad is not a weakness. Holding back in an effort to appear strong is, however, a weakness. When people know what you’re going through, they can better assist you.

“No man is an island.” — John Donnes

2. Inability to Communicate Needs

When we are the most sad, we have trouble communicating our needs to others. But sadness doesn’t form overnight. Oftentimes, the repression goes back longer and deeper. We expect others to read our minds. We don’t give them a chance to get to know the real us because we’re so afraid of rejection.

Your needs are more than food, shelter and clothing, etc. They include understanding, compassion, reassurance, empowerment and hope. When you let yourself become vulnerable, people can offer you these things. It starts with communicating your needs.

Maybe you were passed up in a promotion, rejected in a love affair, hurt over past childhood abuse, neglected in life because of your inability to speak up. All these things do not define us. What defines us is what we do with them, the lessons learned. We have to let people in so that we can decide what to do with them.

To communicate your needs, write a list of your values, goals, what you’re grateful for and what you want others to help you with in regards to these areas. Then, make a plan to ask for help. Let others see this list. Let them choose how they can help you.

3. Identity Loss

Our identities become wrapped up in what we want people to think about us. Instead of hiding in the same stigma of sadness, open up to the world to share what you are going through.

When you are wearing a mask, you cannot be authentic. And when you are not being authentic, you are not getting your needs in life met. You are not building a true foundation for success. You cannot be happy. You cannot learn others’ needs or identities. You cannot offer a solid answer to their own vulnerabilities. Instead, you freeze. You become numb to others’ suffering and isolated in your own.

That mask needs to come off. Otherwise, you’re just waiting for more sadness to consume you when isolated and alone. That mask is designed to distract others from your pain, but it doesn’t work in the long term. Eventually, that mask will break.

If you keep it on, you will look towards that mask as who you really are. You will pretend and lose sight of your dreams and goals. Instead of letting that happen, take the mask off.

The freedom that comes in being yourself is worth it. The sadness will shrink at the sight of who you really are.

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4. Hardship

Hardship does not define us. But it can take time to recover from one. Don’t speed up that process. Sadness is not an inherently wrong emotion to feel. It’s just uncomfortable. And when you go through a hardship, that sadness will be there. That sadness attaches you to what you lost that you loved. It gives meaning to it. It helps you understand yourself when you open up about your grief.

People will have solutions for everything. But the greatest answer you can give yourself is honoring that sadness and what it stands for, so that it doesn’t overwhelm and control you. You will be less afraid of the hardship’s long term effect. It will equate some closure. You will learn lessons from the hardship that you might have not learned any other way.

Hold space for the pain, for yourself to heal, and for others who might not understand right away.

Be kind to yourself. That’s the best way to handle sadness from a hardship. Know that it’s natural to be there, but it won’t be so pushy forever. That’s where your own abilities come into play.

You can keep going knowing that you will honor that notion that it carries the weight of what you once wanted. And maybe as you grow, you will change in what you want. But you will never change in what you need. And that’s healing, growth, love and honoring your journey that you got this far and are able to do much more than anyone knows. Keep going!

5. Negative Messages or Self Talk About Yourself

You are worth everything. Your sadness does not speak to what you are worth. It only tells you the story you tell yourself. And when you change that story, you can breathe. You start to see the positives in your day. You start to realize you deserve to be happy. You even let yourself smile maybe. You will not go down that easy. You will rise again.

In The Toxic Effects of Negative Self Talk on Very Well Mind [1], Elizabeth Scott, MS said:

“Studies have linked negative self-talk with higher levels of stress and lower levels of self-esteem.”

Both stress and lower self-esteem bring on the sadness in which we feel we are losing our sanity. But we can pick ourselves up again with positive self talk.

Positive self talk is sending message of love and hope to yourself when the world fails to do so for you. It’s taking control. You may not be able to take control of every aspect of every circumstance, but you can control yourself. That means you have something to give. You can show up, when you are struggling, and you can know you are safe because you can control the messages you are telling yourself.

Take control, today and everyday, and watch the sadness fade. Start with “I am worth it.”

6. Disempowerment

Maybe you’re not going through a hardship. Yet, you are not empowered. Maybe your circumstances are just not giving you what you want. You are having unfulfilling experiences. Your relationships are not healthy, your school or work simply drains you, you have no support system, you have an identity crisis, a lack of focus or meaning. Or all of the above.

In all of these examples, you feel a lack of power over your life.

Maybe you didn’t notice it at first, but the sadness creeped slowly up on you. Maybe you need it though as a wake up call. This isn’t the life you deserve. Maybe it’s time to change something.

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That’s when sadness can serve us. It can give us hope. That we can feel enough to know something isn’t right. You don’t need to explain it to anyone else. You just need to act on it. You’ve been white-knuckling through your problems enough. Use the sadness or when it rains to open an umbrella, and walk forward.

7. Lack of Focus, Direction or Drive

It may be a simple thing of a lack of focus, direction or drive for your reason for sadness. You may have a great life, but you don’t know which way to go next. You aren’t taking what you do have seriously. In fact, you may be taking what you have for granted.

The lack of gratitude may be the reason why you can’t see the good even though it’s there. You’re forgetting why you started. You don’t recognize yourself in the mirror because you’ve let yourself wander so far. But now, it’s time to get it all back.

Choose. Make choices. Act. It sounds simple, but it is not easy to get your drive back. You have to really want it. And that changes everything.

Your mindset is everything. If you can’t view things with a positive spin, you will have nothing to do that is meaningful or productive. If your mindset is causing you to overlook what you do have and what you can have, it’s time to change it. Just with positive self talk, getting focused is about realizing what you deserve.

“It’s during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” — Aristotle

If you want to find your drive, this article can help you: How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up

8. Oppression of Some Sort

Poverty, pain, wrong doing, injustice… Sometimes, there are things outside of our control. We may feel like there’s nothing we can do in our current circumstances to make it better. But we have to try.

You didn’t choose this, but you did decide your attitude about it.

You can either fight or stop. But stopping is not an option.

Instead of blame everything else, see what you can do to be a light here. Get yourself through it to get yourself to the other side. Don’t judge what you’ve had to do in the past to do just that. But now it is time to start over.

Forgive yourself. Let the sadness be a voice for what you’re going through. Express that. It doesn’t mean things will change right away. But you will change. That will make meaning out of your sadness. It will help you transform what you hope to change.

9. Depression

If your sadness doesn’t leave you, it may be depression.

A chemical balance may be the reason for it all. Or a sudden hardship, heartbreak, loss. There’s no one reason for someone to become depressed. It’s subjective to that person.

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Sadness enduring and growing stronger with a more hollow, empty feeling than you’ve ever had before is a sign of depression. Depression strikes when you are down. It’s like a weight on your chest. Sometimes, the sadness robs you of your sanity. You make rash decisions. You act in ways that do not appear healthy. You choose to retreat rather than open up the world. And therein lies the problem. You forget you’re human. You’re allowed to ask for help.

When the depression becomes numb, it could be a multitude of emotions lingering that the brain suppresses to help you cope. In that state, it’s time to reach out. Even if you don’t know what is causing it, it’s time to act.

If you need help, here’s a great organization to start with: National Alliance on Mental Illness describes depression as hopelessness, lack of interest in activities or even suicidal thoughts.

It’s also suggested to create a safety plan. This means you gather your supports, someone you trust, to help maybe take you to the ER if symptoms persist.

Call a suicide prevention hotline.

Note these aren’t fail-safe. It may take trying different therapies such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Maybe even medication. Meditation never hurts. But it’s up to you to be honest about how you feel, if something is not working for you, or if a counselor is not helpful.

Get ready for it all to be a process, to take time. There’s not a quick fix for your feelings. And when sadness becomes depression, you know to take it seriously. One day, there may be a cure, but for now, you will heal your sadness and depression by identifying and causes and coming up with a plan of action no matter what.

Final Thoughts

People don’t always recognize when someone is in crisis. They don’t know your internal dialogue. They don’t hear your negative self-talk. But what they do is love you.

You are not alone in this at all. Sadness can be very telling of what a person is going through. If it becomes depression, added steps are needed to getting help.

It should be viewed as any other health crisis. But due to stigma, it is not often so that we view it that way.

You can change that — just by showing up, just by voicing your concerns, just by living for yourself, your needs, and your goals. Because when it comes to sadness or depression, we often feel silenced. No more.

Good luck.

More to Cheer You Up

Featured photo credit: Casper Nichols via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sarah Browne

Sarah is a writer, speaker and activist who promotes the end of stigma for mental health.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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