Why is it ok to cry over spilt milk?
Being unhappy and feeling miserable about events that did not turn out to be your way is not an unnatural feeling. We, humans, tend to place extremely high expectations on what the outcome of events ought to be and in the process compromise on our ability to effectively deal, in case it fails.
One often fails to earn the desired grade, to bag a much- needed job, or sometimes be defeated at something that involved all their blood, sweat, and tears. It is an overwhelmingly disappointing feeling and it wouldn’t be incorrect to console someone by asking them to not cry over spilt milk.
However, it must be understood that such defeat leads to a spectrum of emotions that may or may not be dependent on each other and does not limit itself to only unhappiness. Therefore, in times of such distress, it becomes all the more necessary to bring consciousness to all of these negative feelings and emotions. For these are the emotions that would soon become the driving force for excellence. Several kinds of research have been conducted and have shown the multitude of benefits of these negative emotions. A few of the most notorious ones are ‘Sadness’, which can help you pay attention to detail; ‘Anxiety’, that can help approach challenges and problems in newer ways; ‘Jealousy’, that can motivate you to work harder and ‘Guilt’, that can help you change negative behaviour. Being mindful of all of these unfavourable emotions and accepting them as a part and parcel of life instead of negating them and moving forward is an avoidance strategy that can do more harm than good.
It’s always the darkest before the dawn and it would be correct to believe that the veil of darkness is being worn by all the negativity that arouses out of unpleasant situations and unfavorable outcomes and the dawn would be the success that follows. And it is this path to this success that is the most crucial. It involves being perturbed and disheartened by the situation for a while but at the same time recognizing the complexities of the situation, the cause for the failures and ultimately setting out on the path of defeating the reason for your defeat. Pain is the driving force and so it must be acknowledged, it must be recognized and it must be appreciated. As fair as it is to believe that ‘whatever happens in the past, stays in the past’, it is also right to think that if the lessons of the past are dealt with appropriately, they become the governing forces for the future.
Being happy and positive is an unsaid norm and the benefits of these emotions are bounteous. However, the intangible force that pushes one to be cheerful in times of sadness and failures puts a lot of strain on the mind and pushes one to wear a mask of pretentious happiness. This act of masking an emotion that you don’t quite feel is the societal and personal pressure that we generally succumb to. Often the need to feel happy could lead the person to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms like drinking and abusing substances, all of which are temporary solutions and avoidance strategies that make one feel better for a while but are extremely damaging in the long term.
In times like these all that one needs is the time to grieve in peace and to quietly introspect and not be forced to move forward with life. These fleeting moments of unhappiness not only allow us to pause but also provide us with the much-needed reality checks and hence should be taken into consideration. They allow us the time to take care of ourselves and develop healthier coping mechanisms. They teach us the importance of each and every emotion on the spectrum, moreover, those that we often take for granted.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has had his fair share of failures, but he says that ‘the weight of it all could have made him depressed, but instead he accepted those experiences as challenges and learned from them.’ In a book that he published, he goes on to say that, “once you embrace unpleasant news not as a negative but as evidence of a need for change, you aren’t defeated by it” “You’re learning from it. It’s all in how you approach failures”
This wonderful lesson exemplifies the importance of soaking in all the emotions, learning from your mistake, introspecting your failures and then being prepared to move ahead with your life. The need to immediately let go and leave the event in the past is a highly provisional measure and would pop up sometime in the future, if not dealt with properly.
Nonetheless, sometimes things don’t turn out a certain way and as important as it is to feel it in the moment and learn from it, it is also important to recognize that these phases of discouragement and sadness are generally meant to be fleeting. A pronounced and lasting impact of this might lead to certain psychological conditions and could require professional intervention.
Lastly, our ultimate goal is to live fulfilling and joyous lives, and the path to this should be in the acceptance of all the failures and emotions that might seem to be hindrances at first but would turn out to be the impetus for this fulfillment in the end.