Emotions And Feelings (Cont.9)

6. When things are hurting (can cause anguish, hopelessness, despair, sadness, grief)

    a) anguish is almost unbearable and dramatic swirl of shock, incredulity, grief, powerlessness, etc

"...anguish not only takes away our ability to breathe, feel and think - it comes for our bones. Anguish often causes us to physically crumble in on ourselves literally bringing us to our knees or forcing us all the way to the ground. The element of powerlessness is what makes anguish traumatic. We are unable to change, reverse, or negotiate what has happened. And even in those situations where we can temporarily re-route anguish with to-do lists and tasks, it finds its way back to us..."
Brené Brown, 2021

It is best to handle anguish by seeking professional help as trying to hide it, suppress it, etc rarely works.

    b) hopelessness arises from of a combination of negative life events and negative thought patterns, including self-blame and perceived inability to change your circumstances; it involves both emotions and experiences; hope is learnt, ie children learn from adults and need relationships that are characterised by boundaries, consistency and support so that they can handle adversity; need to believe in yourselves and your abilities; hopelessness and despair are synonymous

"...We need hope like we need air. To live without hope is to risk suffocating on hopelessness and despair, risk being crushed by the belief that there is no way out of what is holding it back, no way to get what we desperately need. But hope is not what most of us think it is. It's not a warm, fuzzy emotion that fills us with a sense of possibility. Hope is a way of thinking - a cognitive process...... a trilogy of goals, pathways, and agency..."
Brené Brown, 2021

You experience hope when you

    i) set realistic goals, ie I know where I want to go

    ii) know how to achieve these goals (including staying flexible and developing alternatives), ie ' know how to get there', ' I'm persistent', and 'I can tolerate disappointment and am able to restart again and again'.

    iii) have agency, ie you believe in yourselves - you can do it!!

"...Hope is a function of struggle - we develop hope not during the easy or comfortable times, but through adversity and discomfort. Hope......to when our goals, pathways, and agency are tested and when change is actually possible. Unfortunately, there are times when hope is insufficient to combat entrenched systemic barriers..."
Brené Brown, 2021

Hopelessness can stem from:

    i) not being able to set and/or achieve realistic goals, ie

"...Setting realistic goals is a skill and a pre-requisite for hope. When we don't have the skills, small disappointments can grow into hopelessness and despair..."
Brené Brown, 2021

    ii) when you fail, you cannot tolerate disappointment and/or are unable to reset

    iii) you don't believe in yourself or your ability to achieve what you want

In a worst case scenario, hopelessness is linked with suicides.

NB"...cultivating a hope practice - getting intentional about setting goals, thinking through pathways, and developing a strong belief in ourselves and what we can accomplish - we can also look to...... resilience..."
Brené Brown, 2021

One way to build resilience is to think about the temporary nature of most setbacks and adversity)

      c) despair is the belief that there is no end to what you are experiencing; it can be a desperate and claustrophobic feeling, ie you cannot figure a way out through the struggle and suffering; it is related to hopelessness, ie hopelessness applies to a specific situation while despair is about a person's entire life and future; it is linked with extreme sadness.

To handle, you need to learn

        i) how to reality-check your goals and pathways to them

        ii)  not to be concerned about restarting and restarting

        iii) how to overcome disappointments

Like hopelessness, despair is a reliable indicator around suicides, ie thoughts, attempts and completed; especially if accompanied by an emotional pain.

Martin Seligman's 3 Ps, ie personalisation, permanence and persuasiveness (for more details see elsewhere in the Knowledge Base)

        i) personalisation (when experiencing despair and hopelessness, you tend to blame yourself and forget about larger issues, outside factors, context, etc; this self-blame and criticism can lead to increased hopelessness; realising that factors beyond your control can impact negatively on you give you a different perspective)

        ii) permanence (thinking that your struggle will never end is the basis for despair and hopelessness, ie 'tomorrow will be no different from today'; need to realise that most things don't last long)

        iii) persuasiveness (the mistaken belief that whatever you are struggling with something or someone that it is permanent and will change everything for ever)

NB The 3 Ps are about perspective

    d) sadness is the feeling sad is the response to a real, and/or perceived, loss or defeat; owning your sadness is courageous and the basis of finding your way back to yourselves and others; one function of sadness is to encourage people to evaluate and improve their lives; linked with passion and empathy

NB Sadness and depression are different; sadness is a depressed mood - it is a common, but not essential, feature of clinical depression; depression is a cluster of symptoms including lack of interest in pleasant activities, loss of appetite, excessive fatigue and/or insomnia, difficulty concentrating. Furthermore, sadness and grief are not the same, ie

"... Sadness is one part of grief, grief involves the whole group of emotions and experiences..."
Brené Brown, 2021

Sadness has benefits:

"...Sad people are less prone to judgemental errors, are more resistant to eyewitness distortions, are sometimes more motivated and are more sensitive to social norms. They can act with more generosity..."
Brené Brown, 2021


"...Sadness primarily functions as a contributor to and intensifier of the emotional state of being moved..."
Julian Hanich et al as quoted by Brené Brown, 2021

People want their sadness recognised, especially by others who have had similar experiences.

     e) grief involves many emotions that can go on for a long time; you generally have a desire to 'tell your story' as a result group therapy support groups can be important healing experiences

"...It is an attempt to reaffirm or reconstruct a world of meaning that has been challenged by a loss..."
Robert Neimeyer as quoted by Brené Brown, 2021

Until recently grief was thought to be linear (more detail see elsewhere in this Knowledge Base); it is thought to have 3 main elements, ie loss, longing and feeling lost

        i) loss

 "...include the loss of normality, the loss of what could be, and the loss of what we thought we knew and understood about something or someone..."
Brené Brown, 2021

Sometimes these losses are hard to describe and identify

        ii) longing (it is related to loss; it is not a conscious wanting; it is

"... an involuntary yearning for wholeness, for understanding, for meaning, for the opportunity to regain or even simply touch what we've lost. Longing is a vital and important part of grief..."
Brené Brown, 2021

Generally you prefer to keep your 'longings' to yourselves for fear could be misunderstood as lacking in fortitude and resilience

        iii) feeling lost (grief requires us to reorient completely your physical, emotional and social worlds; it can be hard to articulate your grief and new consequently feel disconnected and alone; generally others want people who are grieving to move on, ie 'get over it'

Types of grief

        i) acute (occurs in the initial period after a loss; include strong feelings of yearning, longing, and sadness plus anxiety, bitterness, anger, remorse, guilt, shame, etc; it can dominate a person's life)

        ii) integrated (result of adaptation to the loss; thoughts, feelings and behaviours are integrated in a way to remember and honour the dead person)

        iii) complicated (occurs when something interferes with adaptation and acute grief is extended; involves intense emotional pain; it dominates the sufferer's thoughts and feelings with no respite in sight, ie life can seem purposeless; begin to feel frustrated, helpless and discouraged; it is different from depression)

         iv) disenfranchised (this occurs when grief is not appreciated by others

"...is not openly acknowledged or publicly supported through mourning practices or rituals because the experience is not valued or counted (by others) as a loss..."
Tashel Bordere as quoted by
Brené Brown, 2021

Some examples include

"...loss of a partner or partners due to divorce, loss of an unborn child and/or infertility, the multitude of losses experienced by a survivor of sexual assault, and a loss of a loved one to suicide..."
Brené Brown, 2021

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