So there I was, sitting miserable, on my couch. For years, I’d been doing my absolute best to do well in life. I had made every effort, I’d tried everything, but nothing had ever worked out. I was single. I was lonely. I didn’t feel there was anybody I could turn to, so I isolated myself. That way I could prove to myself that no one cared.
Nobody cared. Nobody loved me. There was no way out. I was lost. Stuck.
How did it get this bad? What was the first sign of trouble? I feel torn up inside, I’ve done all the right things; worked on myself, read everything I could to learn and grow. I’d done the right thing by people, gone to school, attended university and I studied hard. I even got a job I was good at, but yet I still felt sad. These intense feelings of sadness and loneliness are surrounding me and inside me at exactly the same time. I feel like I’m inside a bubble of negative emotion all the time. And I don’t know where to turn or where to look. How do I escape this bubble of sadness, frustration, anger and loneliness? I feel so lost. My only friend is the coping strategy I’ve discovered. I think about things that I shouldn’t do. I think about things like alcohol, chocolate, food or anything else that can give a moment of peace. I have my couch, I have my beer, I have my TV remote and that’s all I need. I know at least they’ll always be there for me.
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All of your life you’ve been told what to do. Go to school, come home, get a good job, get married, have children, be good to your family, wake up in the morning, go to work, do extra work, work your butt off, work really, really hard and then come home, spend more time with your family, make dinner, send the kids to bed and then do it all again the next day. That’s what you do for the first years of your adult life – create a life like everyone else’s. You’ve read the magazines, you’ve watched TV, and you have heard the stories that if you do these things, then you will be happy, but for some reason you still feel sad. You see, our emotions flow through us, up and down, every single day. Sometimes we have happy emotions; sometimes we have sad emotions. It’s funny how the less than happy emotions are easier to get into sometimes. And then something bad happens. It’s not that bad, but it sucks. It’s sucky. And we spend a little bit more time in that less than good emotion.
I Didn’t Really Think It Was A Problem
It wasn’t always this way, you know. Before I got stuck in sadness, before I lost hope, I was in every way normal. I did what everybody asked me to do. I got a good job. I worked hard. I went out with friends. I tried hard. I had a few relationships but they never lasted. Lets face it I’m alone. I did what the people around me – my mom, my dad, my family, my school teachers, my friends, my peers – wanted me to do. At least, I did what I thought they wanted me to do. And I was happy. Well, maybe not happy, but I was living. I was a good soldier, and everything was normal – on the outside. But on the inside, very slowly, I started to realise there was a problem.
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I wish so much that I had handled it back then. That way, I wouldn’t be in this stuck place right now. If I had just listened to my gut, listened to the deepest sense of myself, it would have been so much easier. But at the time, I was avoiding it. I tried to tell myself there wasn’t a problem.
Have you ever been driving along the road and the warning light comes on to say the fuel is getting low? The light starts flashing. At first you ignore it, right? And then you remember that a few days earlier you had noticed that the tank was a quarter full of fuel, so at the time you went straight past that petrol station. Yes, if you had got petrol at that point, then things would be easier now. But you didn’t, and now the warning light is flashing again. You ignore it again. You think you can get just a little bit further without doing anything about it. Suddenly, the car conks out and you are stuck.
I wish that when I first knew there was a problem I had handled it. I knew something was slightly wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, and so I pushed it away. I hid from it. I just ignored it. I was busy. I had a family. I had children. I had deadlines at work. I‘d take care of it when the deadlines were met, the school holidays were over or when the kids were asleep. Maybe, after I’d done everything around the house, dinner was ready and the washing was done. Then I’d have time to think about what this problem was.
Of course, there was always something more important to do than think about myself. I‘d never really put myself first. I had never really sat down and said, ‘What do I want?’ Now I’ve lost hope. Now, after living the life that everybody else wanted me to live, I’m lost and don’t feel like I know which direction to turn. I would love to spend some time thinking about what I want in life, but I don’t want to think about it now, because life sucks. I can’t see past the negative emotions that surround me. Things aren’t getting any better; at best, they are going sideways.
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"After many years of training, courses, and counselling in various forms I thought I had certain aspects of my life sorted. Yet completing Emotion Academy showed me that I had been running away from my emotions and not facing them. After Emotion Academy, now I have the tools to engage with myself and win the internal battles once and for all - Neil Welsh, Victoria
Not everything is bad. I mean, I still enjoy some moments. It’s just that it’s harder to remember those times with so much negativity around and inside me. I had a good Christmas about three years ago; I remember that.
It’s just so easy for me to distract myself.
I have an ‘okay’ day, come home from work, have a glass of wine, and then wait long enough to fall asleep. Then I wake up the next day. Things aren’t good, but they are not super bad. People around me have started to notice. They’ve started to say things like, ‘Are you okay?’ I respond, ‘Yes’, but what I really mean is ‘sort of.’
It is like the spark of life has gone out. It is like the hope I had that things would get better has disappeared. So what do I do? Where do I turn? No one really understands me. Everyone just judges me. They look at me and say that I have a problem. Maybe I do. But I don’t know where to go, what to do, who to talk to. I have researched sadness on the internet. Maybe I was just born with it; maybe there is nothing I can do about it; maybe I’m going to be like this for the rest of my life.
I Hit A Pretty Significant Point In My Life
If this is you, then you are just like me. I stayed there for a long time, a very long time, until I realised that I was the only person who could help me find a way out of the situation. There was no book; there was no article; there was no magic pill; there was no magic person. There was only me. Yes, sure, along the way there have been people who have helped. But it all started with one person.
Looking back, I remember how used I was to feeling negative emotions. If you had asked me, I could have rattled off twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty negative emotions. If you asked me for positive emotions, I might have been able to come up with three, four, maybe five. I’d forgotten how to feel good. Even things that could have felt good, like having friends around, felt like nothing more than neutral. It seemed as though I’d been wired up with negative emotions and all the positive emotions had left me. But at some point, I knew that it started with me.
I hit a pretty significant point in my life. You see, I had had some bad times, and I didn’t think it was possible for things to get any worse. Then they did. And then when those things happened, I didn’t think things could get any worse. And then they did. And when those bad times happened, again I did not think anything worse could happen. Guess what? It did. Some people call it a ‘threshold’, a point at which there is so much pain, you finally decide to do the things you know you should have done years ago.
Melisa Grigg - Head Coach & Trainer
Melisa was stuck in sadness for 15 years, hated her job, was overweight and her relationship had just ended. Melisa inspires people with her story and now teaches how she sorted her life out. She worked out how to be happy and how to lose over 30kg of body weight. In simple steps she teaches how you can stop procrastinating, find confidence, stop being so sad and finally start to find true meaning and purpose in your life.
That choice is always an interesting one. I could see people around me – happy, married, with kids, having fun – doing all the things that I guess I truly wanted. But, gee, they annoy me. Those people who post every day on Facebook about how happy they are, really annoy me. I wonder if they are truly happy or if they are just saying that they are. I don’t know.
Sometimes I would excuse myself from everybody and sit by myself. I knew that I would be okay that way, just watching TV, drinking wine, getting caught up my day to day chores or in a computer game – caught up in Facebook – anything that could distract me from my feelings in this moment. Deep down, I know it would still be up to me; even though people were saying that there was a problem I couldn’t do anything about, I knew there was. Maybe there was.
When things got really tough and I did not know the way out, I realised that there were people in worse situations than mine. I started reading about people who had been imprisoned in German concentration camps during World War II and, for a moment there, I felt almost selfish that I had been feeling negative emotions. Their lives were much worse than mine. And, in a way, knowing that helped me. It gave me a glimmer of appreciation – not that I could recognise that was what the emotion was, but I could see that my life could have been much worse. The feeling didn’t last long. Soon, my negative thoughts returned. I forgot about anyone else. But I’d had a glimpse of something, a little moment where I remembered that I am me.
I’m not writing this to change you. I’m not saying that you should be or do anything different. Listen; if you are sad, upset, frustrated, annoyed, angry or lonely, that’s okay. You do not have to change. But I do want to tell you that, if you keep looking for it, you may find a glimmer of hope, too. It’s a starting point. That glimmer of hope saved me.
You remember how I said that I could rattle off twenty-five or thirty negative emotions but very few happy ones? Well, now I can rattle off fifty happy emotions and probably only about ten sad ones. It’s not like I never get sad; of course I do. I just don’t get stuck there anymore, and it all started with a glimmer of hope.
The First Step
When we get sad, when we get stuck in sadness, we stop looking for a way out of the negative emotion because we don’t believe there is one. Even when we feel in our heart like there is no exit from this place. What hope does is help us realise that maybe there is one. That glimmer of hope keeps our eyes open. We might still sit on the couch having a beer, but for the first time, we just might notice the exit sign from all this negativity if it is there.
Would you like to find a way out of feeling sad, from being depressed, from being stuck? Keep looking. Every day, people move out of sadness. It starts with hope and faith that life can get better, and that one day, you’ll see the the first signs of a way out. It won’t be an escape from all the sadness, but it will be the first step. And you’ll probably go back to where you were, but then another day you see the next step and then the next one. That first step, might be a friend asking you for a coffee. It might be someone asking you to the movies. Maybe its answering a phone call that you usually don’t answer. The trick is to take that step and just go. You’re not necessarily going to enjoy it. You aren’t necessarily going to have fun. But you do it because of hope and because it’s a step in the right direction. You may go back to being stuck in sadness again. That’s okay, because at least you have made a new choice. The first step out of sadness is holding on to hope. Trust me, I know how hard that is. But I’m not asking you to do anything I haven’t done myself. I’ve been there.
I wrote this article to hopefully give you some hope. There were times I’d lost hope. I want to inspire you, give you an example of someone who was just like you that found a way out.
Even if at first you can’t find anything to be hopeful about, keep looking, just keep looking…for that one thing, that one reason, that will give you hope or faith or whatever you need to find your way beyond the negative emotion. There is a way out of sadness, even if you can’t see it. I didn’t believe there was but by constantly looking, and finding hope that life can get better, now I’m happy much more than I’m sad. You can get unstuck too!
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