When you’re sad, the first thing that is critical to do is to identify that sadness, to sit with that sadness, and to sink into that sadness.
But what does that really mean? What does it really mean to sit with sadness? How do we do something we rarely do? Because most of us don’t have much experience feeling our feelings, especially not painful ones.
And that’s OK. Because feeling our emotions is actually a skill. It’s a skill we can practice, and we get more comfortable the more we practice.
One of the most helpful ways we can practice processing our emotions is to journal. Sometimes, the words come out like water from a faucet. They just flow. We can’t write fast enough as the words fly out.
And other times prompts can help us access and pinpoint the pain—and release it from our mind, body and heart. Below you’ll find a variety of prompts to journal about and to feel your feelings:
- Write from the perspective of sadness. You are sadness. What are you trying to say? What do you want to be known?
- Jot down the physical sensations that you’re experiencing. Does your head ache? Are you feeling any tension? Where? What do you feel inside your stomach? What about your chest? How’s your breathing? Do you feel depleted?
- Describe sadness as though it were a character in a book. What does sadness look like? What does sadness say? What does its voice sound like? When does sadness come around?
- Describe your sadness by finishing these statements, which come from the book Writing for Emotional Balance: A Guided Journal to Help You Manage Overwhelming Emotions: “If this feeling was a color, it would be ______. If this feeling was weather, it would be ______. If this feeling was a landscape, it would be ______. If this feeling was music, it would sound like______. If this feeling was an object, it would be______.”
- Describe your sadness even further with these additional fill-in sentences: If this specific sadness were a taste, it’d be _______. If this specific sadness had a sound, it’d be _______. If this specific sadness had a scent, it’d be_______. If this specific sadness were a fabric, it’d be ________.
- Simply start with: I am sad, and this is where I feel it…, and this is where it hurts.
- Write about your soul. Write about how sadness feels there.
You can even carve out 10 minutes each night for an “emotions session” or a “wellness check.” (Give it any name you like!) During this time, you simply get quiet and tune into how you’re doing, specifically honing in on your feelings. You can simply ask yourself: What am I feeling right now? How did I feel throughout the day?
It’s hard to start feeling your feelings when most of your life you’ve done anything but. But journaling can be the way in. And you can set a timer with the different prompts, too. Initially start with 5 minutes. Then gradually increase the time (by 5-minute increments, for instance).
Our sadness can be devastating and confusing and overwhelming. Give yourself unconditional permission to feel it, without judging yourself, without calling yourself too sensitive or too much or too _______. Give yourself permission to honor whatever arises, which, of course, is honoring ourselves.
Feel your sadness and find effective ways to soothe yourself.