Differentiating sadness from fear

Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
I realize that my sadness is usually sparked from fear. Fear of being alone, fear of being inappropriate, fear of being stuck, etc. When I feel afraid then I feel sad. I often don’t know how to cope so it turns to anger which is dealt with by internalizing.

I now recognize the need for better boundaries with myself and investing in myself.

But a question arose within me. I can attempt to stay with myself for the sadness, but the sadness is not equivalent to the fear, is it? By that I mean, people experience sadness without fear, right?

So then I’m trying to get myself to stay present with my sadness, but ultimately I will need to stay present with my fear. The anger is displacing the sadness and the sadness is displacing the fear. I’m working on staying present for the sadness because I learned that the sadness came from the fear. But now I’m curious if the sadness is distinct from the fear, or blended with it.

I know you can’t tell me what I’m feeling, but I wonder if you experience these emotions as blending together or following each other or something else. I wonder if you experience them primarily as distinct or blended. I wonder if how you experience them has changed as you recover.
 

mumstheword

MyPTSD Pro
I realize that my sadness is usually sparked from fear. Fear of being alone, fear of being inappropriate, fear of being stuck, etc. When I feel afraid then I feel sad. I often don’t know how to cope so it turns to anger which is dealt with by internalizing.

I now recognize the need for better boundaries with myself and investing in myself.

But a question arose within me. I can attempt to stay with myself for the sadness, but the sadness is not equivalent to the fear, is it? By that I mean, people experience sadness without fear, right?

So then I’m trying to get myself to stay present with my sadness, but ultimately I will need to stay present with my fear. The anger is displacing the sadness and the sadness is displacing the fear. I’m working on staying present for the sadness because I learned that the sadness came from the fear. But now I’m curious if the sadness is distinct from the fear, or blended with it.

I know you can’t tell me what I’m feeling, but I wonder if you experience these emotions as blending together or following each other or something else. I wonder if you experience them primarily as distinct or blended. I wonder if how you experience them has changed as you recover.
I haven't really got any more words in me today, along these lines, I'm really struggling today, but, coincidently I was just "talking" about these two states, emotional backdrops, whatever you want to call it, in my journal, just now, so, feel free to "drop in" and read about where I am at with fear and sadness, just now @Self-Determined.
 

Warrior Chicken

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks for this thread and I hope more people can provide insight as I’m also trying to figure it out.
For a long time I blocked my feelings so I didn’t have any distinct or blended sensations. But now that I’ve worked on some of that I can say I do know how you feel with fear, sadness, anger.
For me it’s like 3 characters:
- fear is inconsolable and screaming
- sadness looks at fear and the emptiness grows deeper
- anger arrives and grabs ahold of sadness and starts throttling it
- fear grows stronger but is silenced by anger.

So, I would say they’re distinct until they blend to one overriding the others.
Anger is always always always directed inward. Or at inanimate objects.
 

Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
@Warrior Chicken I agree with all that you wrote. Strengthens confidence in myself to read about your similar discoveries and development. And thank you for amplifying the message by inviting others to contribute.

@mumstheword was talking in their diary about connecting fear and sadness in how they approach integrating memories of past people with the desire to break out of their “inside-ness”, was that the word? How to feel human connection when most people are so disappointing, and at the same time afraid of disappointing loved ones. If this is an inaccurate reflection, MTW, please correct me.

I wrote this in their diary which seems relevant here too...

Today I was thinking... would I choose to incarnate if I knew I would be wading through mostly inauthentic and sometimes evil people around me? Would I do it just to experience the joy of meeting people who are genuinely kind and truthful in spite of also being surrounded by mostly inauthentic and sometimes evil people? People who can honestly tell the difference between those who abuse and neglect and those who don’t? Is that one of the reasons someone would choose to exist in a sea of otherwise misery?

Like you, I used to be completely submerged in emotional abuse and neglect so I thought that’s all there was and couldn’t tell the difference between an abuser and non-abuser, let alone a genuinely kind person and a groomer. But now I can and it makes certain people more precious than any gem or rare pet.

When I experience emotional flashbacks though, or triggers, I forget about others, focus on the feeling of fear or panic about the future—then fear gets pressed down by sadness, to be capped off with anger which is self-directed. I think I understand that I’m supposed to feel the sadness but I have no idea what to do with the fear. I suspect there are some kind of staying techniques. Probably the dreaded meditation or more dang mindfulness—lol!
 

Friday

Moderator
I realize that my sadness is usually sparked from fear.
That’s kind of brilliant, actually. That’s not the way I experience sadness, so I never made that link... even though if I look at 10 zillion interactions with kids being sad? At least half are met by dispelling their fears.
By that I mean, people experience sadness without fear, right?
If I’m sad, I’m actively suicidal &/or -far more rarely- mercy killing, when I’d rather not be. There’s zero fear. There’s often grief, regret, remorse, duty, honor, resoluteness, certainty, responsibility... but no fear.

And, as I said earlier, roughly half my interactions with sad kids are tied to fear... but that means the other -roughly- half aren’t. Great big giant array of possible directions feeding into & out of it. Which is why it shocked me to realize just now that soooo many are tied to dispelling fears. 1 tie -vs- 75 ties is kind of freaking huge. The reverse logic doesn’t work, I’ve seen fear completely unliked to sadness faaaaar more often than I see fear linked to a great deal many other things.

So if I had 2 pie charts, for my experiences with OTHERS?
  • Sadness = half fear, half a thousand other things
  • Fear = half fear (not linked to anything / existing all by itself), half a thousand other things (including sadness, as just one possibility amongst many)
It’s an interesting thing to think about.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
I like how @Warrior Chicken described dealing with the emotions.

a question arose within me. I can attempt to stay with myself for the sadness, but the sadness is not equivalent to the fear, is it? By that I mean, people experience sadness without fear, right?
^^ I think it depends if your sadness is coming from the stories one tells one's self , or from grief. Either way I suppose loss (real or perceived) is involved? And both emotions could apply, I believe we are designed to experience many at once, even contradictory ones. But so much is influenced by thoughts, some perhaps by physiology (neurochemistry).

I think anger requires some degree of self-worth or expectation, unless it's for others' sake/ protection. It also can be a way to wake up the brain, overcome fear, reduce blood pressure, get attention or connection, or a lot of things I imagine.
I know you can’t tell me what I’m feeling, but I wonder if you experience these emotions as blending together or following each other or something else. I wonder if you experience them primarily as distinct or blended. I wonder if how you experience them has changed as you recover.

I think working on cognitive distortions, emotional regulation and processing what is relevant is helpful for me, separating what is influenced by the past. As is (for me) free choice and trying to be accountable for my own self.

But then again, I once made a thread long ago on which comes 1st, anxiety or depression (the circle), and what is the difference, so what do I know! 😜🙃
 
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Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
@Friday that’s interesting, thanks for your perspective. I didn’t know you work with so many kids. Kids are pretty great subjects for studying emotions, now that you mention it, since they’re less sophisticated at hiding or manipulating them. Makes sense how you described it.


I believe we are designed to experience many at once, even contradictory ones.

Yes, this makes much sense. I remember seeing a chart once for blended emotions. For example mixing anger and happiness created a display of something like sadism or revenge. Fear and happiness was maybe something like surprise?

Also, was reading and watching about savant syndrome—people (often brain damaged, developmentally delayed, autistic, but not necessarily) who develop extraordinary abilities to play music, compute dates or complicated math, draw with photographic precision, and so forth. One theory is that their hemispheres are disconnected and the right brain dominates, even taking on some of the jobs of the left.

This is intriguing because the right brain is all emotions and creativity. So savants’ brains can submerge into some sort of deep connection with human emotions, but they can’t talk about it very well. The left side is about logic and planning and decisions, how we interact with the world, understand the rules of society. Savants are often very stunted in their social interactions and cannot explain how they play music, calculate figures, or paint with precision. They often need assistance with daily living.

Talking about their emotions is not typically something autistic people can do. In the old days they said autistic people were cold or emotionless. But if you’ve been around autistic people you know they are extremely sensitive to emotions just may not have the ability to talk about them effectively (with exceptions of course!)

All this is to corroborate your point that the emotions are likely fluid and compounded.

However, as someone who personally had little to no emotional awareness or vocabulary for decades it is helpful to imagine them as discreet as I develop emotional intelligence. Maybe after I understand them discreetly I’ll be able to understand better how they mix and layer.
 

Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
As an aside on the topic of sadness and fear, after writing about the talents of savants, I could see the connection between emotions and music/art, likewise the connection between music or drawing and math, but I was uncertain about how emotions connect with math.

So I looked it up. And there’s a whole TED talk about The Emotions of Mathematics. In it the speaker links the following emotions to math: boredom, depression, compassion, humor, and happiness. And I remember learning that for some of the Greek and Arab mathematicians numbers were linked with proof of God. And of course there’s numerology.

I never thought about math as being closely linked, or maybe even born from, emotions. Perhaps it’s the explaining that cuts the tie from the feeling, which might explain how a savant could submerge into equations if they are embedded in the pathology of the right brain. Perhaps being “relieved” of the compulsion to explain allows the brain to go “full on” with the emotional activity.

I am aware that the hemisphere dynamics are complicated and not so black and white, but there is some truth to it, and if the hemispheres are disconnected or part is damaged then there are intriguing consequences which give clues to how typical brains work.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
I believe @shimmerz is a real expert on blending of emotions?

It's my understanding 'blending' refers to just that: so for example, there is sadness, there is hopelessness. But sadness blended with hopelessness is despair. It is an emotion that's made up of a combination. Similarly, grief is different from sadness (which may be coming from a place of self-pity, or for the other, not you), which is different from exclusion, which is different from hopelessness, which is different from devastation, etc. And numb seems like too many all at once, or even shock or exhaustion, mental or physical. (Just my guess).

Also I think it's important to look at thoughts and beliefs. For example, one can say 'I feel abandoned'. On it's own it may be something no one knows, and refer to personally feeling alone, resourceless and hopeless. Or, conversely, a person could say, "I feel abandoned (by 'you', inferring referring to another person)", which means something entirely different- maybe betrayed, or disappointed, or contemptuous, or expecting someone else to be responsible for your emotions, etc.

Not sure if that's helpful, best wishes to you!
 

Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
Very helpful, yes, thank you!

sadness (which may be coming from a place of self-pity

Pretty sure something like this is what takes me down on weekends without my kids. When I feel this, I believe it might be related to connecting my trauma with my present state of alone-ness. Fortunately I am questioning this connection now. Thinking of sadness as a "motivational feeling" helps me look at it as a "helper" for moving me toward a state different from the present one. I am curious about ways of staving off future sadness, through boundaries with myself.

which is different from exclusion

Exclusion is a feeling? Different from sadness coming from a self-pity? Is exclusion the feeling of being lonely because you are different? I read an article stating there are seven different kinds of loneliness. That was helpful because loneliness seems to have a sense of fear for me, along with sadness.

And numb seems like too many all at once, or even shock or exhaustion, mental or physical. (Just my guess).

I agree with this based on my experiences. When I was submerged in all kinds of abuse from my father and eX I experienced continual waves upon waves of fear and sadness and anger and happiness and I had no concept of expressing them. Dissociation/numbing happened whenever possible to relieve the tension of emotional chaos. I experienced my emotions as a bad or good feeling inside me and coped with them in unhelpful ways which alienated me from non-abused people and drew me toward abusers and their victims/enablers, especially those still unconscious of the abuse like me.

I just realized that dissociation/numbing can be a sign for the Analyst part of me that there are many emotions happening at once. If I remain curious I might be able to tease them apart, like a puzzle.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
Exclusion is a feeling? Different from sadness coming from a self-pity? Is exclusion the feeling of being lonely because you are different?
Idk, ^^, but exclusion could feel like rejection, whereas being different may equate to feeling like a misfit.

Self-pity can often be fueled by the negative stories we tell ourselves, so the pity part could be as unique as the belief and distortions.
loneliness seems to have a sense of fear for me, along with sadness.
I think some people are more dependent, more independent. Don't get me wrong, it's a terrible feeling when no one has your back. It's just some people don't equate 'people in general' as being likely to do that, so there's little loneliness in few, but more trustworthy connections.

I would say (only for me), fear causes 'alone-ness', but it's not loneliness I feel. I feel more lonely when disconnected with other(s) or in a group than when I am alone. But everyone is different.

I also think it's normal for say, loneliness to have a sense of fear +/or sadness with it. It wouldn't be considered a positive state if it were comfortable. Similarly, there can be fear and sadness without loneliness.
 
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grit

MyPTSD Pro
This mix of emotions sound so mosaic...I find my sadness as a glove to bring me closer to humanity and my fear "sparks" with an anger and comes with aggression to kill or die...I get wired up with fear and I feel compassion with sadness.

I have to say to have mix of sadness and fear sounds to me extremely paralyzing like a baby being smothered by the mother and looking into her sad eyes while he perishes. that deep and disturbing. I wonder if this an implicit feeling and hard to articulate for you so the emotions are mixed in symbolic way but organically were different in your body.
 
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