Unfortunately, not all emotions are created equal.
The most widely accepted emotion, happiness, is a sign of confidence, security, and success, among other things. Even if we have to “fake it till we make it”, we’ve been told expressing happiness is a sure way of gaining close friends and admirers.
Fear is perhaps the most applicable emotion, as everyone has felt it in some regard. We’ve all been scared of something before: leaving a job, asking someone to marry us, confronting a friend about something they did to upset you. And considering the daily fear mongering by ma$$ media outlets, fear makes a strong case for the most felt emotional sensation.
Anger, though rarely welcomed, is another emotion many of us feel and practice daily. Be it in the midst of heavy traffic, at your child for breaking a prized vase, or at an incompetent coworker, anger is, again, widely accepted as a completely normal emotion.
Disgust is highly suggestive and, for the most part, remains internalized but is still regularly felt. When disgust is expressed, in most contexts, it’s usually accepted and sometimes agreeable.
Sadness, however, is in a league of it’s own, much like in the new feature Pixar film Inside Out. Sadness seems to be alienated, picked on, and persecuted when expressed fully. Outward expressions of sadness such as droopiness of the body and face, slumping, and crying are considered signs of weakness and insecurity. It’s unfair that our culture puts sadness in such a tight box. It’s damaging, unhealthy, and downright unfair to the human life experience.
People who aren’t afraid to express sadness, in fact, are far more mentally healthy than those who suppress it. Here’s why:
They aren’t afraid of their emotions.
If you were overwhelmed with joy, would you hide a smile? If you saw the innards of a squished squirrel while running or biking on the side of the road, would you not grimace? If you had an awful day at work and your unemployed roommate drank your last ice cold beer that you’d been looking forward to all day, would you not be pissed off? If you were trying to find a light switch and didn’t think that your boyfriend was in the room, lurking, waiting to scare you thinking it would be funny, would you not be terrified when he jumped towards you and yelled?
So if you’re sad, why wouldn’t you cry? Why wouldn’t you slump around? Why wouldn’t you give yourself the right to be sad?
People who ignore sadness cheat themselves out of an important facet of life. Sadness, or crying, isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’re a human and have feelings beyond what you’re told is appropriate to show in public.
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