Focus On Emotions: Sadness

Emotional Literacy is important for communicating feelings. One significant part of Emotional Literacy to learn is about emotions. In this blog I am going to talk about how sadness is actually a useful emotion and it tells us about when we have been hurt.


Emotional Literacy: Sadness

I believe that if we all learn about Emotional Literacy, we can widen the boundaries of our intelligence and we can know how we feel, as well as name and understand our emotions. My past blog posts explain the basics about what Emotional Literacy is and the difference between emotions and feelings. This blog is focusing on the emotion of ‘sadness’. I have also created a video for you to learn more.

When we consider the complex area of emotions, we can simplify it by grouping them into basic ‘families’. For example, the Disney Pixar film “Inside out” has simplified young Riley’s emotions into 5 basic emotions: Joy, fear, anger, disgust and sadness. The story is about Riley’s life when she is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco with her parents, and her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school. Current neuroscience is showing us how very important it is to know about our emotions as they are very much linked to our thought and decision-making processes.

Throughout the film, the eventual message is that “sadness is as valuable an emotion as joy” and I guess, as with anything, it’s about having the right balance.

So, how does sadness help us?

Most of us avoid sadness, after all, that is what Joy, in the film “Inside Out” did throughout the film until she realised that it was sadness that knew the way to let go and get back to the emotional balance of headquarters.

However, I am not talking about grief and depression here. These states take you to intense sadness where you can’t just respond with a good cry to let things go. If you are depressed or grieving and it is triggering mood swings and repetitive crying spells, then it is important to see a counsellor/psychotherapist because if it stays activated for too long, it can begin to affect your sleep, eating or hormones and this starts a vicious cycle leading to more sadness. Please ask for help. Sadness is a great emotion that gets evoked when you need to let go of something. It isn’t the ‘thing’ that makes us sad, but sadness helps us to let go of things that aren’t working anyway and makes room for things that do work.

Good questions to ask yourself when you feel sad

What do I need to release/let go of?

What must be revived, renewed or rejuvenated?


Remember, sadness isn’t just about loss. It is our body’s way of letting us know that we need to clear things that no longer work and makes space for things that do. For example, when I was a teacher, I always felt sad in July when I had to say goodbye to my class who would be moving up to the next year group. I know that I will still see them but it won’t be the same.

I revived my memories and renewed my pride with how well they had grown up and then I was able to let that go otherwise I would not have the same energy for the new class I would have the next year.  

Next time you feel sad…

Know that it is ok to feel your feelings. Feeling sad will help you to process your feelings and move on. Take your time and don’t rush the sadness process. It can help you to heal. Remember to get help for depression or if you are grieving.  You can call me or another professional but please get help.  
What’s Up Next?

Next up I will be continuing the theme of emotions. The next emotion I will focus on is fear. If you have anything specific you would like answered please get in touch before next week and I will include it in the next blog.


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