A new study says sadness lasts 240 times longer than other emotions.
Somewhere along the lines a rumor started that it takes twice as long as a relationship was, to fully get over it. For anyone who's ever been in love that seems pretty accurate, and now, scientists have figured out why that may be—and it has nothing to do with the fact that you fear you'll never love so deeply again, because, let's be honest, you will love that deeply again, but you will never love quite the same. Different is good in these things!
A new study has found that of all the emotions, sadness lasts the longest. While the fear of never loving that way again can last up to 0.7 hours, the feelings of sadness can last for 120 hours (five days), and 240 times longer than feelings of shame or disgust. Basically, sadness is the most tragic and deeply felt of all the emotions.
The study, out of University of Leuven study, asked 233 students to recall instances and experiences in which they were moved to feel specific emotions, then to remember how long they felt those emotions, and what they did to deal with them. It was out of 27 emotions that sadness was experienced for the longest amount of time, whereas other emotions, like jealousy was felt for 15 hours, guilt was felt for 3.5 hours and hatred was felt for 60 hours, for example.
The reason for this is pretty simple. As one of the study's authors, Saskia Lavrijsen, explains, "Emotions of shorter duration are typically—but, of course, not always—elicited by events of relatively low importance. On the other hand, long-lasting emotions tend to be about something highly important." But while this is all well and good, what do the results really mean? That we can somehow tackle the pain that comes with sadness or even shorten the duration in which it is felt? Probably not.
What I do think is we need to take from this is that sadness, for whatever reason, is difficult and all-consuming. Recovering from a devastation that has resulted in the emotion of sadness is not something one can just wake up out of one day; it’s something that takes time, effort, and maybe even more than a couple days in bed. To experience emotion is human, and to feel broken inside because of sadness is just part of being alive. Instead of fighting it, sit with it, as my therapist says. Allow yourself to experience the emotion and don’t beat yourself up for it, if it takes you longer than planned to get out of your funk.
What's most important is getting your head (and heart) up to speed again, and sometimes that takes longer than planned. So, just go with it. When you're ready, you'll come out the other side a more complete person, because with every experience, good, bad, or neutral, you get to take home a lesson. It's like getting a lollipop after your dentist appointment—something you earned.