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Why Sadness is Your Friend

Why Sadness is Your Friend

Grieving woman

     

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    Recently, we looked at “Why Fear is Your Friend,” and learned that Fear can guide you towards what’s important for you, motivate you to take action to improve your odds, and you give you a rush. This week, we discuss why Sadness is your friend. OK, you probably think that idea is nuts. Who wants to be Sad? Well, OK, I get that, Sadness sometimes feels bad, but I want you to get that like Fear, Sadness can be a good friend.

    “All well and good, Master Yoda,” you say, “but how does that work?”

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    First, Sadness is about losing something you care about, whether that’s a loved one, a job, or a football game…so, Sadness  shows you what you care about (because some people honestly don’t know, and that’s, well, SAD!)  Would you feel Sadness if your girlfriend / boyfriend left? The answer tells you how attached you are to this person. How Sad would you feel if you lost your job? You see where this is going.

    Along the same lines, experiencing the Sadness of loss helps us to appreciate what we still have. Losing a loved one, while extremely Sad and painful, can be the kick in the pants we need to mend the fences, reach out, or otherwise make the best of the relationships and opportunities we still have. Funerals are painful and gut-wrenching occasions, and they are great for bringing people back together, burying old conflicts, healing wounds, but it only works if you show up and feel the Sadness and let it bring you together with the others there.  One who can’t bear Sadness will tend to shy away from love, commitment, and real passion, in order to avoid grief, and that’s an empty life.

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    Similarly, losing a job can help you appreciate that you still have your health. Losing your health can bring loved ones together. Losing money can help you to focus on what really matters to you, your values, your sense of mission, your spirituality.

    Lastly, Sadness has authenticity to it. Grieving has a way of slowing you down and bringing you back to the moment. It forces you to let go of your worries about your to-do list and next quarter’s numbers and your fast-paced life and really be with yourself, your feelings and the people around you. This is important today because we can get so lost in our smart phones and emails and plans and lose sight of people, relationships, and dreams.

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    So, this week’s bottom line is that Sadness  shows you what you care about, Sadness helps us to appreciate what we have, and Sadness requires us to be authentic. This is the kind of friend who can help you to stay grounded and real, to honor what’s important and let go of what’s not, and we all need that kind of friend. 

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    Dave Kaiser

    An Executive Coach who helps people make better use of their time, from productivity to living their life's mission.

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

    “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

    Are we speaking the same language?

    My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

    When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

    Am I being lazy?

    When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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    Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

    Early in the relationship:

    “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

    When the relationship is established:

    “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

    It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

    Have I actually got anything to say?

    When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

    A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

    When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

    Am I painting an accurate picture?

    One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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    How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

    Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

    What words am I using?

    It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

    Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

    Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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    Is the map really the territory?

    Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

    A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

    I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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