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Mindful : February 2017
It’s never fun, but over the course of a lifetime, sadness visits us all. What if instead of resisting, you could welcome it in and listen to what it has to say? By Steven Hickman Several years ago, my marriage came to an end. We had been together for 25 years, most of my adult life. On top of all the unpleasant practical mat- ters that you have to deal with during a divorce (custody, money, property, divvying up mementos), I faced a storm of challenging emotions. Indignation and anger were the faces I wore to the outside world (the frustration, fear, and self-righteous- ness I kept better hidden). These feelings would arise and fall away like the weather, sometimes in great gusts, other times sticking around for days on end, and in patterns I could rarely predict. Yet there was always a steady undercurrent of sadness— over the loss of the dreams for that marriage, and simply for the fact that I had wished, deeply wished, for something else. My experience and heartache are not unique, and not unique to going through a divorce. Part of being human is to know the weight of sadness. Fleeting or persistent, sharp or dull, threatening to overwhelm or lingering in the background, sadness touches us all: A loss of love or friendship and the disorienting experience of the landscape shifting beyond your control. Dropping your child off at day- care for the first time, and the accompanying g uilt and real- ization of time passing far too quickly. The flimsy pile of greens on your plate making you wonder if you really have what it takes to lose the weight. A stalled car that strains your finances; one more thing to worry about. The dirty laundry at the foot of the bed punctuating the loneli- ness of being single. → A Time to Be Sad Steven Hickman, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist and Executive Director of both the University of California San Diego Center for Mindfulness and the non-profit Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. PHOTOGRAPHBYGETTYIMAGES/CHENLIU/EYEEM February 2017 mindful 45 inner life