How to Process Sadness

I’m not always happy.

In fact, just last week I went on a neighborhood stroll in tears.

I may be a coach, but I’m also only human. I had just coached a beautiful client about being a human being, not a human doing. So I went outside and followed my own teachings and cried it out. I decided to just be, and not do. Ben Howard helped.

I think a lady parking her car caught a glimpse of my strained face with tears coming down. We’re all in this together.

I noticed that on my somber walk, all I was focusing on was my own sadness, and not discovering any of the normal things I usually do like cute idiosyncrasies about my neighborhood, sweet humans, flowers, colors, textures, sounds. My brain wasn’t looking for it like it usually does. This is a great example of how we go in search of evidence to prove what we’re thinking correct.

Thought = ugh, everything sucks!

Feeling = sad

Action = stay in sad state of aloneness and not notice anything good around you.


When we are in a sad, vulnerable space, it’s hard to see the good. Instead we sit in the bad.

I think sometimes we’re taught that being sad is shameful or that there is something wrong with us. When we’re young we’re told to, ‘Stop crying, suck it up, be brave. No more tears, my darling…’

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but it can teach us that it’s not okay to be upset. When really we need to be in order to heal and grow.

Why do I tell you this? Well, because I run a business on happiness. And I don’t want to mislead you that I’m happy all the time, nor that it’s necessary to be. I sure do strive to be positive and joyful all the time. I apply all my tools. All my self-help, psychology, behavior change, belief paradigm, inner child, thought management, spiritual, and  life coaching tools. And yet, I’m just a human being.

I don’t have it all figured out. Nobody does. I’m not perfect. Nobody is. And there’s so much beauty for all of us if we understand that. I coach women all day on giving up so hard on being perfect and to actually feel their way through life. Face emotions. Process them. Own them. Not hide behind them. So that’s why I’m being honest.


Part of happiness is sadness. In fact, I think the more real we can be with our emotions, the more authentic our happiness is. We learn through contrast meaning we wouldn’t understand happiness if we didn’t know what the flip side was: sadness. Things don’t always go ‘right.’ Not everything is ‘easy.’ And I want to make sure that readers of Full On Happiness know that we are here to do the best we can with love and compassion and grace.

One of the most challenging lessons I continue to learn in life is complete and total acceptance. It’s discovering how every situation in life is here to teach us something on a soul level. It’s understanding how everything is happening for us, not to us.

In this post I don’t want to give you tips on happiness, but instead offer something different: how to embody being sad or upset. Because it’s just an emotion. It can’t kill you. And allowing it to run through your system is a healthy part of being alive. And being human.


My top 6 ways to embody and move through sadness:

Go on a walk.
Seriously. Fresh air. Vitamin D. It can help put you in a place of freedom and inspire you to take deep breaths and be alone. Put on some of your favorite music, too. Yes, music can evoke emotion which is why it be cathartic and healing.

Have a heart to heart with your best friend.
That’s what friends are for, right? Well, it’s one of the many things they are for. Ask one of your best friends if it’s okay to sit with you and listen while you express something. This isn’t about spilling all of your problems onto them. This is about going to someone who will simply listen and make you feel comfortable.

Engage in coaching or therapy.
Clearly, this is my profession so I whole-heartedly believe in getting help. I always say, sometimes we can’t do it alone. You are never alone, remember that. Finding a professional who can hold the space for you is healthy. I am not a licensed therapist and never take on clients who I don’t feel like I can fully support, but I find that my style has many therapy aspects to it as we delve into the past while working on the future. Seeing both a therapist and a coach is actually quite helpful!

Putting pen to paper is very therapeutic. When we are processing emotions sometimes all of the thoughts are so jumbled in our head that we have no idea what’s going on or how to process it. I recommend what I like to call ‘channel writing’ where you literally just let things flow from your brain to the page. This ignites your emotional/right brain. The key is to let it flow and get to a meditative ‘not thinking’ state for a release.

Create a sacred, spiritual space for yourself.
There’s really nothing more comforting than lighting a candle, getting out all of your spiritual gems, turning on some soothing mediation music (right now I’m into Wayne Dyer’s ‘I AM Wishes Fulfilled Meditation’ music), and just being with yourself. I like crystals, sage, mala beads, shells, rosaries, and other small momentos. Whatever works for you and makes you feel at home, do that. You can pray, talk to yourself, your higher self, the universe, angels, God… anything that feels right. Be comforted by something higher and bigger than yourself.

Read from an inspirational book or use cards.
Sometimes we can’t find our own wisdom in these situations. It’s trumped by the sadness. So I recommend picking up the words of someone really really wise like Osho or Rumi or the Dalai Lama. Whatever teachings you prefer to lean into is perfect. The point is to reignite, re-inspire, and ground yourself. People wrote those books for a reason… utilize them! There’s also plenty of cool, spiritual decks out there (Doreen Virtue has a ton). Get some of those and find peace in guidance from  another level.


If your sadness happens to be about your body or your own self, mightI invite you to pick up my free happy thought guide. There’s 20 really healing, happy, productive, calming thoughts in there. Try it out!

So, being sad isn’t a bad thing. It’s a healthy part of our life to process our emotions and embody things instead of push them away. Remember, there is nothing wrong with you. You are perfect as you are. And you are never alone.

*Photo cred: blue | balance | walk | hard

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