As unpleasant as sadness and disappointment are to experience, it is often in the midst of those times, or immediately following them that one feels most inspired and philosophical about life. It is a time when, in trying to make sense of what has happened that has hurt or angered someone, or in any way left them feeling uncomfortable, that they try to understand from many angles the benefit or learning experience contained in the situation.
It is our nature as human beings to learn from painful experiences. For example, if a child were to touch a hot stove and be burned, rarely would that child do it again. The memory of the pain is stored in the limbic system of the brain reminding him that touching a hot burner hurts. Similarly, we are cautious about emotional experiences after being “burned”. However, emotional wounds are far more complicated as we try to understand why something good such as falling in love with someone, could cause so much pain when it ends. Most people are willing to venture into future relationships after such an experience, but never is it as naively as it is with the first love, when one has not yet experienced the pain of love lost. It is our nature as human beings to learn from discomfort, be it physical or emotional. There is opportunity in most discomfort from which we can learn and grow.
Things to think about:
Think of two or three of the saddest times in your life. Describe them and what the disappointments were that were involved.
Think of two or three of the happiest times in your life. What was so elating to you about them? Did you reach a goal? Did you feel pleased with a choice you made? Was there something unconditional about the experience?
Now think about whether or not there is any relation between those sad times and happy times. Were there things you learned or valued more as a result of the struggles that contributed to your happy experiences?
Without sadness would we really know what happiness is? Is it not that due to the contrast we can truly experience and enjoy the good things life has to offer?
Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC http://www.thcounseling.com