What To Do When Sadness Leads to Anger and Guilt

Someone posted a question on Quora today – What do you do when sadness transforms into anger and then transforms into guilt? 

Well, it definitely got me thinking? I wouldn’t necessarily say that it is the pattern that everyone follows, but it does resonate with me because sometimes, I have seen this pattern happen the exact same way with me. Now that I can reflect on it, I guess the answer is pretty simple – we all have a pattern of responding to unfavourable situations. For some of us, the transition is from Anger to sadness which then leads to guilt. And for some it is guilt leading to sadness and then to anger. I guess we can come up with all six combinations here if I remember my math properly.

So, we will skip the path and prevent this from being an annoying research oriented questionnaire to a slightly practical one where we try to find a solution for it instead of cribbing about why it happens.

The Cause!

I think everything starts from the root – whether it is sadness or anger or guilt and however powerful the emotion is, there is always a cause. And the cause is different for us each time depending on the situation. So, there is never going to be a one size fits all answer. But yet, there sure is a cause behind our actions, it is important to identify what exactly is the cause of our emotion.

The Message!

More important than the cause, it is significantly relevant to know what the emotion is telling you. Of course, the initial thoughts are of personal regret where the messages of being – unlucky or cheated or undeserved resonate on the mind. Once that phase passes, we get into the zone of accepting reality. Whatever has happened and whatever reason it has happened – it has happened. Instead of trying to judge whether we deserved it or not, there is more sense in trying to identify the next steps. For that, it is very important to know what the message is telling you. And it can be anything from

  • Change the Approach
  • Change the people
  • Change the way you respond or talk to people
  • Change the job/diet or the cause of something that is bothering you.

I can keep adding to this list and it is never going to end. But you get the point – it is important to read the message.

Action Roadmap!

Once you know what the message is, you also need to know that there is a solution to achieve the result this message is telling you to. Although it is not very direct, there are solutions available and sometimes they are not straight forward at all – rightly so or else life would have been way too easy. Once you identify the cause and the message, plan a roadmap to get there. I know it would be awesome to get to the solution in one step. Sometimes, we need more than one and to get there, we need to build a roadmap of how things can connect. Once we know that there is a pattern with which we can go ahead, then we also know that we can break the old pattern which is causing a pain to us than the actual result.

And once you know what is causing the trouble, find a way to break that pattern and replace it with a new and effective one – it is all about reinforcement. The more you do something, the more it becomes a habit. If you create a conscious good one, it is going to stay if you tend to it carefully.

Would love to hear more of your thoughts on how to achieve it!

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2 Responses to "What To Do When Sadness Leads to Anger and Guilt"

  1. I have been in those dark alleys of guilt and sadness. So much so that I had to take medication to come out of it (This is the first time I am saying that openly). And now when I think about it, I realize it was so foolish of me and so inconsiderate of the other person to let me think conveniently that I was responsible for the situation. Every person has to subscribe to a different action map to some out of sadness. There is no single remedy for all. A thoughtfully written post, Vinay.

    1. Hi Deepali, apologies for such a long delay in response. Thank you for sharing your experience on this. It does take a lot to share a personal story and I really appreciate this. I guess most of us end up taking responsibility for more than what we are responsible for and on the other side there are ones who don’t take any at all. Maybe we make up for the balance 😀 .. But I do see, it does lead to a lot of emotional pressure within as well. I guess a bit of forced carelessness might not be that bad a thought after all 🙂


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