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If I were to ask you right now,

“Where does sadness come from?”

What is your answer?
I have come to realize that ‘sadness’ is one of these big words that so many people use without truly stopping to ask themselves,

“What does sadness mean to me?” 

At least, this used to be my case in the past…
But now, I am fascinated with what I call blanket words, words we seem to throw casually over whatever event, person, or situation we might be unable to cope with at the present moment…
Sounds familiar? 
As usual for me lately, when I want to know to the bottom of something, I start where it all begins… with the words we were taught as children…

In English, the word sadness (sad) first came from Germanic origin, saed,

meaning ‘sated, wary’.

As you may probably know, the word ‘sated’ is linked to ‘saturated’, meaning ‘having enough’ or ‘feeling full’.

Is sadness ‘having enough wariness that we feel full?’

If this is the case, then this statement implies there is no other room within ourselves to experience any other feeling in that moment.
Is it true?
Is it always true?
Most likely Not!

Is sadness a feeling that can be felt in conjunction with other feelings?

Then it begs the question,

“Why so sad if joy is just beside?”

I kept on digging….
Turns out the word sadness took its saed away and turned to the Dutch zat, the German satt and the Latin satis, also meaning ‘enough’. But then, something fascinating happened!

The original meaning of sadness was replaced in Middle English 

by the senses ‘steadfast, firm, serious, sober’.

OK, now I am going to poke fun here…

Is sadness a steadfast feeling? 

According to Google, steadfast means “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.’

Is sadness something we must resolutely and dutifully 

firm and unwavering feel?

To say resolutely, one has to determinedly agree to to be sad first.
To say dutifully, one has to agree to continue feeling sad out of ‘duty’.
To say firm and unwavering, one has to believe they have zero choice in the matter.
Is it true?
Is it always true?
Apparently, it is only much much later that the English decided to give sadness the meaning of ‘sorrowful’, ‘a feeling involving grief or loss’.
Wow, it seems to have taken the English quite a long time to figure out what sadness means to them?
Now, maybe the French know ‘better’?

The word ‘tristesse’ comes from the Latin tristicia, tristitia, meaning

… an affliction

… a melancholic temperament

… an ambiance marked by affliction or melancholy

… an aspect of something that triggers a state of affliction

Fascinating, is you ask me!

If sadness is ONE aspect of our self that is feeling afflicted,

then it implies we have within our self OTHER aspects that are non-sad.

This is amazing news for anyone who has ever believed they might never come out of depression.
This means, sadness is just but one feeling within our self that, we can choose to feel and move to joy and happiness.
When I hit what I call the shitter, I had no idea I had been depressed my whole life.
I mean,

How would anyone know they are depressed 

if they grew up with depressed people (their normal)? 

For me, feeling depressed was my normal, what I grew up with. Therefore, unknowingly (this is what normal does, engrain stuff in us), I carried this feeling of depression with me throughout most of my life.
I never quite understood why other people could be so happy looking at a flower or hugging a tree… until I met my mentor Dov Baron. He showed me sadness was just one feeling within me, that there were many others, and I could choose to feel more positive feelings into my life.
Yes, it has taken me a lot of self-compassion to change my negatively wired upbringing to feel more positive feelings of well-being.
Here is the thing though, if I can do it with a deeply raging father who sexually abused me as a child and a psychotic mother who believed she was pregnant with Jesus Christ, I firmly believe you also have the power within yourself to change your life. We all do!
The question is,

“What meaning are you now willing to assign to sadness?”

I trust you have found value in this article. My name is Anne Beaulieu and I am an Emotional Intelligence Coach, Authentic Speaker, and Compassion Blogger. I can be reached at
With Compassion,