It can take quite a lot of strength to allow yourself to feel sad. But when sadness is persistent and refuses to leave, then you can learn to shift your emotions by doing this exercise:
Exercise to overcome sadness
Like every negative emotion, sadness is caused by a cognitive denial of the present moment. If you are sad because your boyfriend broke up with you, then your thoughts will probably circle around past events. These thoughts are now causing you to feel sad. It is our mind that keeps us unhappy and therefore trapped by focusing too much on the past or the future, but not enough on the present moment. Start by fully surrendering to your situation by accepting it. Ask yourself: What is the situation you are now in? By describing the circumstances, you will develop more awareness for the present moment. The next step is to understand that your emotional pain comes from how your mind is interpreting this situation and not because of the situation itself. If you learn how to direct your thoughts in a more positive way, you will be able to reduce the resistance that you are creating towards your current situation. The simple exercise to overcome sadness consists of the following two steps:
Step 1: Take a breath
Taking a deep breath is the first step to becoming more present. Breath is a gateway to the present moment. Whenever you are focussing on your breath, you are returning to the present moment. You can use your breath to step into the present moment by simply bringing your awareness back to your breathing whenever you feel sad. To bring your awareness to your breath, you can simply observe the sensations around your breath. Be aware of what your breath does to your body. The more often you practise this, the easier it will become. You will notice a subtle change in the way you feel, as you focus more and more on your breath. Whenever you focus on your breath, you cannot be sad, because the sadness can only exist as long as you are focused upon the thoughts that are creating it.
Step 2: Ask yourself: Is there a reason for me to be sad right now?
In this very moment there is no reason for you to be sad. You are alive, you are breathing, everything is fine. Your sadness comes from your thoughts which are focused on the past. Your memories and your interpretations are causing your suffering. Once you understand that right now you have no reason to be sad, you can create distance between yourself and your emotions. Once the sadness is no longer "fed" by your thoughts about the past, it will slowly dissipate.
why do we have emotions?
Our emotions are the only inner guidance system we have. Without our emotions, we would be completely lost in this complicated world. So take your sadness seriously - it means that you have forgotten who you are. If you are sad because someone does not want to be with you anymore, then your sadness tells you that you are interpreting the situation in a wrong way. Try to find a thought that makes you feel better. For example, you could think: "Maybe I am better off without him" or "My life is good right now". Whatever makes you feel better, is a right thought to think. Whenever we feel bad, we are thinking something or focused on something that our true self does not agree with. Always pay attention to the way you feel. Your emotions are trying to show you the right way.
I'm Natalie Marby, an English speaking therapist in Hamburg, Germany. I am half German and half British and I offer psychotherapy in English, especially for expats living in Hamburg. I offer all my counselling sessions face-to-face as well as online. To contact me, you can send me an email or call me: +49040 46090233. (Please don't forget to send me your phone number and the times I can reach you). I look forward to hearing from you!