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Solving The Source of Sadness (or any feeling)

person holding dirt and seedling in their hands

Have you ever just been going about your day, all seems fine, and then suddenly you just feel out of sorts. Sad, Angry, Fearful?

A clients said to me today "I woke up feeling sad and I don't know

why". Exploring further, it was clear they were unable to access what could have caused these uncomfortable feelings to take up residence in their body and mind.

Sometimes we can suddenly find ourselves feeling a strong emotion and not understand where it came from. Many of us often live in a fairly unconscious state where interactions or experiences happen that cause all sorts of feelings, yet we are often disconnected from these feelings. When they happen, and remain unrecognized or unprocessed, we may find later we feel out of sorts "for some unknown reason".


Actually, often there is a direct source to an uncomfortable feeling that arises. The challenge is to become an observer to discover that source.

It's actually not difficult to discover if we are willing to take some time to explore looking backwards.


Tracking Backwards is a simple and powerful tool which can often get to the source of sudden feelings of sadness, anger or fear.


Steps to Track Backwards:

  1. Track Backwards from where you are at the moment. Think backwards in your day to all the interactions you had. Or from the day before.

  2. Notice where your attention gets stuck or slows down, these are often the places we unconsciously got triggered.

  3. Discover Triggers. Allow yourself to notice the small or large triggers without judgement, only awareness. If possible, write the trigger down and ask yourself what was the feeling that was associated with that trigger. Usually it's either: shame, anger, sadness or fear.

  4. Allow. Once you recognize that feeling just allow it to be present in your awareness. Often there is some relief from recognizing this source.

  5. Is Resolution Needed Ask if there is a way to resolve this feeling. Do you need to talk to someone who hurt your feelings? Do you need to take ownership of some behavior you had that was unkind or disrespectful? Did you forget to do something for someone and feel bad about it?

  6. Take action where you can and recognize that these moments exist for everyone. Offer gentle forgiveness to yourself or others.

  7. Be gentle with yourself. We all have moments where we feel hurt by subtle transgressions that happen / or we hurt others inadvertently.

Learning to track backwards to discover unprocessed and unrecognized feelings can be a very powerful tool to address underlying anxiety or depression. When we begin to open up to looking deeper at the causes of these feelings, we are no longer powerless to understand the source.


Experimenting for a week can help you discover the small transgressions that happen in our lives that trigger uncomfortable buried feelings. Through the process of awareness we can begin to process those feelings and resolve the discomfort that may accompany them.

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