Fear of LOSS, fear of DISAPPOINTMENT, fear of REGRET and fear of LONELINESS are often quoted as some of the most feared sadness emotions.
Loss and disappointment
Fear of loss and disappointment are often behind why we avoid doing things, such pursuing goals and dreams, I’m talking about the fear of loss in terms of losing money, property or time rather than losing people and relationships. We often experience this kind of fear so strongly, that it paralysis us into inaction.
This is a fairly understandable reaction with fear of loss, after all, you don’t want to be plowing your hard earned money into an investment which has the potential of wiping you out if you get it wrong.
However the fear of disappointment can be easily re-framed by shifting your perspective and looking more critically at your perceptions and the underlying and often shaky beliefs that they are built on.
When it comes to fear of loss in respect of people and relationships, fear of loss often manifests itself in being over-protective towards loved ones, or jealous of their attention with others. Some people avoid falling in love, for fear of having to deal with the possibility of that relationship coming to an end in the future, either because of it breaking down or because of the death of one of the parties. The quote “It’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never of loved at all”, comes to mind here, but we all know from experience, that it doesn’t feel so clear cut when we’re going through the grieving process.
Regret comes from making choices, that in retrospect you might wish you hadn’t taken on, including the choice of doing nothing. It’s about looking back on your life or a section of your life and wishing you’d have made better decisions when they presented themselves. The fear of regret is about mitigating the risk of being in such a dreaded future situation.
There are many other situations that cause sadness, some being;
- Mental illness
- Personality disorders
- Eating disorders
- Traumatic experiences
- Drug addiction and substance abuse
- Existential Crisis
- Unemployment and financial hardship
- Terminal illness and chronic pain
and while I’ve not gone further into detail with these (because I wanted to keep this article to a reasonable length), they are no less valid than the ones I have detailed previously.
Fear of the future
Fear of the future occurrence of any sadness emotions, while understandable in some respects, is an irrational fear. We can’t know for sure how one decision and one choice will unfold and impact us, in the future. I like the Zen parable; Is that so, for a good illustration of this point.
Sure we can mitigate the risks, by improving our knowledge, doing our homework and due diligence and making the best educated decision, at the time.
But we must be aware that there may be many variables in play that we may not be in control of, or even aware of; the unknown, unknowns, the known unknowns etc.
That’s why it’s always good to have a plan B, a backup plan that helps hedge your position, if things go pear-shaped.
Fear comes from worrying about something imagined in the futures, and often fear and worry are over played in our thoughts. The reality is often not nearly as bad as we’d anticipated.
Obviously terminal illness, chronic pain and future traumatic experiences can be mitigated, by trying to refrain from behaviours that could make them more likely to occur, such as avoiding smoking, substance abuse or putting yourself in risky situations, but simply worrying too much about their potential occurrence, can be draining and stressful, and probably best avoided.
Dealing with Sadness
So what do we do when we’re stuck in the emotion of sadness? When it’s here and real.
Dealing with emotion, is about facing it, rather than running away from it. I’ve known people that have used alcohol, and substances to escape dealing with emotion, It doesn’t appear to work for them, in fact, it often compounds problems and adds to an already difficult situation.
Feeling trapped and unable to cope, thinking there is no hope or no way out can result in a downward spiral of emotions, if allowed to do so.
Pain is an inevitable part of life, everyone deals with sadness and pain more generally, to some extent, and finding a way to reduce the amount of pain you’re experiencing or increasing coping resources is where the answer ultimately lays.
Support networks are vital, if you don’t have the luxury of having good people around you, in your family and friends circle, there are many great specialised organisations, that want to help. Never feel you have to deal with any emotion or situation alone.
It is possible to find pleasure and purpose in life again, it really is. Just find the resources within you, to find those resources that are out there to help you navigate your way through.