Hello Sadness, my friend

Ten minutes into the movie, Sadness was crying on the floor. My SO turns to me and says, “She reminds me of you”, with a smile. I open my mouth to retort, but Sadness beats me to it. “Crying helps me slow down and obsess about the weight of life’s problems” she says. And I start thinking.

Since children, our life’s goal is to be happy. As Joy deftly puts it, a perfect day constitutes of nothing but joyful memories. Sadness is a negative emotion, and it is simply not accepted to show it. Tears? Blasphemy! But watching Inside Out made me realize something. Sadness is what grounds us.

Joy is upbeat. Trying to fix things so that every frown turns upside down. When we are children, of course this is easy. But as we grow up, there are so many things that stop us from being completely joyful – the giddy upbeat grinning monkeys. We are taught that this is a bad thing. That being sad is not normal. That you shouldn’t be sad. But you know what? I’ve realized that sadness is an integral part of who I am, and it is this that gives me empathy.

Sadness is what makes you hug the friend who was dumped, instead of tickling her in an attempt to stop the tears. Sadness is what makes you cry when your favorite character dies in a book. Sadness is what makes you say “I understand” when your coworker tells you of a not-so-perfect home situation. Sadness is what makes your heart ache when you see the little boy begging by the road. And it IS sadness that grounds you. Sadness helps you understand who your friends are. Sadness helps you understand what it feels like to lose someone you love. Sadness defines you, just as much as joy does.

But we, in our wisdom, decide to ignore the true meaning of sadness. We shun it. Sadness should remain behind closed doors – or as Joy says “in the little circle of sadness”. How many times have we told children to be happy, even when they have a completely valid reason to be sad? How many times have we told ourselves that being sad is weak? How many time have those around you shunned you because you were sad?

Every now and then, we all need a good cry. When we feel like the world is closing in upon us, and we have no way to go – when we feel that it is all too much weight to carry around, crying helps. Being sad helps. Drooping down and refusing to get up until a solid round of tears are done helps.

Inside Out is a beautiful movie. It was interesting to see how different emotions take dominance over the control board as we grow up. From a monopoly of Joy in childhood, to a gentle Sadness boss in Reily’s mother, to confident Anger in Reily’s father, the movie gave me a lot to think. But one thing that I know for sure? I should definitely watch this again when I am a parent. If only to make sure I tell my child(ren) that it is completely fine to be sad; that I don’t want them to try and be “my happy little girl” when they have all the reason not to.

It is later that I realized that this little epiphany of mine was already known to my SO. His comparison of me to Sadness was simply an acknowledgement of my tendency to internalize all issues and ponder world problems. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing – because Joy, Anger, Fear and Disgust are sure to balance me out.

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