Accepting Negative and Positive States
By: Clara Adkins PhD, LGPC
I recently watched the movie “Inside Out” and felt inspired by the emotional expressions of beauty, bliss, gratitude, sadness, and happiness all at once. I have watched this movie a couple times before and enjoyed it but for some reason I did not understand the deeper message of the movie until this most recent viewing. The message is about growing up and learning how to appreciate and accept sadness in your life. The revelation that there is balance between sadness and happiness is one of the most important and powerful emotional experiences you can have. I think a lot of adults long for childhood because we view it as a time with fewer responsibilities, less anxiety and sadness. Learning how to navigate life can be a challenging journey and the hardships can be overwhelming. Sometimes we try to avoid thinking about these hardships because of the uncomfortable emotional current of sadness that comes along with it. Even if we allow ourselves to experience these sad feelings we try to get over it quickly and pretend that it doesn’t affect us as much as it does. However, avoiding the full experience that sadness can bring can stunt our growth and deter us from our healing journey.
Sadness offers an amazing opportunity to recognize what truly matters to you, and it connects all of humanity in a deep way because we all know what it’s like to feel the pain that sadness brings. If we allow ourselves to open up to the experience of sadness we can elevate our connections with others (and ourselves) at a more authentic level. This allows us to see the beauty in life and feel the depths of the human emotional experience in ways that we would not be able to if we never felt sadness. Sometimes we first have to dive into the dark before we can recognize the light it accompanies. If we constantly run away from our fears, sadness, and the dark then we will never get to that beautiful radiant light. It’s important to see sadness and other challenging emotions as opportunities to experience moments of growth and to gain a deep understanding of its place in our lives. Pay attention to both light and dark states, to experience both is to be human.