How to Deal with the Blues: Situational Sadness and Personality Type

“And here’s to the blues, the real blues – where there’s a hint of hope in every cry of desperation.” – David Mutti Clark

All Personality Types Face Sadness

Blues is an American musical genre that has influenced many other musical forms since its inception. It’s rich in themes of loss and longing and often includes stories and situations familiar to most people. It’s become synonymous with feeling down, with or without musical accompaniment.

“Blues” is a soulful word for unhappiness caused by life events, an unhappiness that is distinct from a broader clinical type of depression. There can be crossover between clinical depression and the blues – but they can also exist independently of each other. The blues, as a rule, are less pervasive and more temporary. It’s less an illness and more a life event. It’s like when that new love interest who appears to be “the one” suddenly says they don’t feel the same way about you. Yes. There may be obsessing and grieving. But a subtle realization eventually emerges. Indeed, there are other fish swimming in the sea of love. While it may not be evident at first, the lost-love blues eventually come to include that hint of hope mentioned in David Mutti Clark’s quote above. Things will get better.

However, those who suspect a broader, more stubborn clinical depression should not mistake our advice as having the same benefits of professional treatment or as a replacement for it. If this is the case, we encourage you to find someone licensed and supportive in your communities to help you get comprehensive and effective treatment.

Blues can come from a realization about life (“I feel stuck in a job that sucks”), or it can come from a shock to the system that is situational (“My hard-earned savings were wiped out in a market crash”). Sometimes we’re responsible for our own sorrows. Sometimes we’re not. But there is something of value to learn and experience either way. The following advice is mostly geared toward the “time heals all wounds” type of sadness – the blues. But the advice we offer here is generally suitable for anyone who feels down.

When Analyst Personality Types Get the Blues

“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.” – Jonathan Safran Foer

Discomfort with expressing feelings is different from not having them. Even the stoic Analysts get the blues – although a few might deny it.

When they do get the blues, Analyst personalities are likely to see it as a dilemma to solve. While that in itself is not a problem, it can hinder their personal growth if they do so to distance themselves from the pain by trying to rationalize it away. The blues are often simply asking us to pay attention to something, and trying to outrun them can leave much unattended to in life.

In addition, these problem-solving personality types may even feel guilty about feeling bad. (“I should be able to handle these pesky emotions better. I should be able to fix them.”) It’s not easy for someone who believes rationality can provide the solution to everything to run across a problem that may not be easily solved by some formula. Sometimes difficult emotions just need to be patiently experienced and allowed to run their course.

Some advice for the Analyst blues:

  • Yes, find a solution, but... When you can, fixing whatever is making you sad is fine – required, even. That’s what you do. But sometimes your blues may not be about fixing something. You can’t fix the fact that someone who you love has left you or that death has taken away someone important. Sometimes, our emotional and maybe even our physical health depends on just indulging the grieving process for a time. None of us can control everything. Life sometimes pushes our “pause” button long enough for it to work on restoration and repairs, even without our permission. That’s called grief, and it often accompanies the blues.
  • The blues are telling you something. Treat these periods of time as you would anything else. Just because it’s an emotional state and might seem a bit soft in the data department doesn’t mean that it isn’t a rich area in which to search for insights. There are truths in that place you may never discover elsewhere, but you may have to wait for them in a more passive state than you are used to. Your blues mantra: “Avoid avoiding emotional truths. Patiently wait for them.”
  • Then take care of yourself. Analysts have a way of living independently and in their heads. Make sure during the stressful bouts of the blues that you take care of your body and overall well-being. Better yet, if possible, let others take care of you occasionally. It’s not a sign of weakness.

While there can be plenty of intellectual fodder and data available during a case of the blues, human experience isn’t always something that can be itemized on a spreadsheet. Well, maybe it can. But that may not be what you need to get through the blues or to resolve them. Emotions exist for a reason, and sometimes you may simply need to sit patiently with them to discover what they’re about.

When Diplomat Personality Types Get the Blues

“I don’t know what they are called, the spaces between seconds – but I think of you always in those intervals.” – Salvador Plascencia

Where others may run away from emotions, Diplomats are just as likely to dive in. Feelings are their realm. When it comes to the blues, Diplomats are likely to pay attention and treat them as something valuable, and their lives may be richer for the experience even if it’s painful. But that doesn’t mean that they always handle the blues well.

One concern for Diplomats is becoming too immersed in emotions. Among these personalities are those most likely to spend significant time reflecting on the past, and they tend to romanticize emotional events in their lives. They often fall in love deeply, and often fall out of it with much tragic fanfare. Picture the lovelorn, chin on palm, peering through the window at the moon and sighing audibly.

The blues might be an emotional place filled with deep meaning for the discerning soul to explore, but it’s not necessarily someplace to take up residence for long. With the blues, there is a thin line between meaningful and maudlin. Emotional catharsis can be wonderful... in small doses. The Diplomat balance involves appreciating the importance of emotions while learning when enough is enough.

Some advice for the Diplomat blues:

  • Look for growth. It’s not that Diplomats relish the pain. Because of your Intuitive and Feeling personality traits, you probably regard a bout of the blues as profoundly important. And you’re often right. But remember that the purpose of growth is to gain a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness, and to achieve that sense, you probably need to move on. Scan the horizon for a healthy way to leave the blues behind. There is more to learn and experience beyond that horizon.
  • Set concrete goals. Diplomats might benefit from setting concrete goals. Vague intentions and aspirations aren’t always enough, and, as long as you’re alive, there is a future to attend to. It need not be an initial reaction after an emotional blow, but establishing concrete goals may help slowly build a comprehensive action plan that can help you cope with any life changes, disappointments, or events – the new normal. Your blues mantra: “My goal is happiness and fulfillment.”
  • Remember to eat. And sleep. And exercise. And laugh. Sadness, even temporary, situational sadness like the blues, can be mentally and physically draining. Take a holistic approach and maintain the strength you need to remain vital.

Your sensitivity and your attraction to the human experience give you a profound relationship with sadness. But when experiencing the blues, also value your natural need to grow. Appreciate your impulse to be a more complete human. Let that inclination toward growth be the motivation that brings you to a brighter place.

When Sentinel Personality Types Get the Blues

“There’s more to life than increasing its speed.” – Frank Sonnenberg

Sentinels, both Thinking and Feeling types, may see the blues as a painful inconvenience – a disruption in the stability they crave. They are likely to seek quick and time-tested resolutions in hopes of restoring the lives they are accustomed to leading, as nearly as possible. While Sentinels with the Feeling personality trait are more outwardly affected by the blues than those with the Thinking trait, both tend to spring into action to lessen the pain. They derive comfort from a steadier, more controlled path. They may attempt to work their way out of sadness by sheer will.

But difficulties arise when what looks like productive activity turns into soothing busyness. There’s nothing wrong with taking one’s mind off one’s troubles, keeping things together, or finding effective solutions. It’s fine to keep busy. However, when activity is a distraction, rather than a purposeful tool, it can become problematic. Cleaning the garage will only divert the pain, not make it go away.

Some advice for the Sentinel blues:

  • Slow down. Nobody is asking you to wallow in your blues. You’re not likely to even if they did. But mourning has a place. When sadness overtakes us, there is usually something lost, even if it’s something nonmaterial like innocence or a dream. Taking time to experience the loss, understand it, accept it, and adapt to a new reality can be necessary ingredients to growing and successfully emerging from the blues. It’s okay to slow down long enough to mourn. It’s okay to feel sad.
  • Plan. And it’s also okay to indulge your longing for a better day. You can both slow down (avoid soothing busyness) and set some intentions for your life at the same time. Intentions offer hope and provide the anchor that Sentinels need. Don’t ignore your feelings. But then imagine: When things get better, what will life look like? How will things be different? Take some small steps. Intentional baby steps toward a better place allow you room to deal with your blues and adjust as you go forward. Your blues mantra: “Intentional, not busy.”
  • Let someone take care of you. Sentinels typically prefer to take care of others. Making sure everyone around them is okay is one way to maintain stability. When you feel the blues, reverse the roles if someone offers. Or ask them yourself. Tell others what you need. Use someone else’s shoulder to cry on, rather than always being the one who provides the strength.

Sentinel personality types with the blues will do what they are most comfortable doing: attending to the business at hand. This may help the situation, or it may morph into a type of busyness. Pairing clear intentions with small practical actions can help you work through your blues.

When Explorer Personality Types Get the Blues

Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.” – Kahlil Gibran

Explorers are perhaps the most resilient of all personality types. There is a part of them willing to move on at any point. Loss may be more relative for them. Their independence and flexibility are such a part of who they are that their name for “momentous life change” could be... “just another Tuesday.” Okay. That’s an exaggeration. But Explorers don’t generally stay mired in painful emotions for long.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that they don’t get the blues, and get them bad. All those artists and entertainers among them must get their material from somewhere, after all. Explorers with the Feeling trait are perhaps among the most sensitive and caring types – often feeling deeply for others, especially children and animals. The difference, perhaps, is that since life is generally more transitional for these personalities, the blues, no matter how intense, may be less enduring.

Some advice for the Explorer blues:

  • Don’t leave it too soon. You’re likely considering the next thing on the horizon all the time. When done in a healthy way, that’s a powerful tool for managing the blues. There’s hope in that thinking, and who doesn’t want to escape emotional distress for better times? But avoid running toward the future at the expense of learning from the past. You probably recognize your tendency to be impulsive – when you’re in the midst of the blues, it may not be the right time to indulge in that tendency and run away. There may be lessons to learn. Too often, the situations that generate the blues are the product of our own actions and thinking, and even when we’re not directly responsible for our troubles, the blues still typically offer a buffet of life lessons.
  • Create a souvenir. As an exercise, use your skills to create a memorial of your blues event. Draw a picture, write a poem or song, create a story to tell your friends over a beer. Find a way to express this period of your life. Preserve it as important. Your blues mantra: “Express yourself. Express your blues.”
  • Grab your bliss. As you’re going through the blues, cling to what brings you joy. Offset the pain with activities you enjoy. Just make sure that it’s a counterbalance to the blues, rather than an escape from the real issues at hand.

Explorers are deeply affected by the blues. However, they may not last as long for you as they do for other personality types. Your flexibility allows you to adapt quickly as you yearn for something new and different. That’s all great – as long as it doesn’t short-circuit a healthy processing of your emotions.

The Final Word on Handling the Blues

You may have noticed a pattern in our advice. The first bullet point examines attitudes. The second offers something to do, or at least consider doing. The third is about self-care. All three considerations are important. Balancing a look inside, a look outside, and one’s well-being is important during the blues.

All the advice in the world will never compete against this one piece of advice: be kind to yourself and take care of yourself during a bout of the blues. These inevitable times will pass. When the new chapter in your life opens, you want to be in the best shape possible to face it and make the most of it. Be good to yourself.

1 week ago
"Remember to eat. And sleep. And exercise. And laugh. Sadness, even temporary, situational sadness like the blues, can be mentally and physically draining. Take a holistic approach and maintain the strength you need to remain vital." this speaks to me, mainly because I haven't slept much at all for a long time, it's usually just 2-4 hours a night for me, and I'm still in Uni, so sometimes it gets draining, especially when I'm hyper most of the time. I eat from time to time, when I remember, and that's concerning. I really need to take care after myself better.
2 weeks ago
This advice isn't bad, not at all. We could use more advice that delves into the deep stuff and talks to us like the varied humans we are, instead of, well, a combination of letters. After all, we are much more than the types we assign ourselves. I'd say we still have a long way to go, but this is a step in the right direction imo. That is, for the most part. I did see some stereotype slipping in, saying that Diplomats often fall out of love with "much tragic fanfare". Not the case. At least, not with me. In fact, I did the exact opposite when I was younger, holding it in and sorting through it on my own. These days, I reach out to my friends who support me through every second. I'm glad to have them, but my point is that there's no "fanfare", no drama to me hitting a rough patch in my life or being rejected. And even if there is, a good cry is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes we, as human beings, just need it. And that's okay.
2 weeks ago
Oh yes I agree about the 'fanfare' part in your response. I was thinking it meant something a little different... More along the lines of a huge internal ordeal, for some reason.
2 weeks ago
"One concern for Diplomats is becoming too immersed in emotions. Among these personalities are those most likely to spend significant time reflecting on the past, and they tend to romanticize emotional events in their lives. They often fall in love deeply, and often fall out of it with much tragic fanfare. Picture the lovelorn, chin on palm, peering through the window at the moon and sighing audibly." This is a great article, but this paragraph especially could not have been any more accurate. It's an incredibly difficult way to live even if your awareness levels are top notch. Applying the necessary changes usually comes at a (sometimes high) cost of other aspects of life in order to conserve enough energy to accomplish them. I can safely say all of that advice applies and constant reminders are always welcomed. Engaging in those behaviors in past experiences have definitely provided at least some levels of improvement and success. I'll be posting this information somewhere I can see it regularly as I move forward in my journey.
2 weeks ago
Edit: (I had an improper meaning/definition in mind) With the exception to the "fanfare" part, if it is to say there is any drama involving others, then it's not the case. It becomes a huge ordeal but it's entirely internal, involving no one else for extended periods of time.
2 weeks ago
I’ve wondered if other people feel sadness the way I do. It’s hard to tell with some people, especially the ones you don’t know well, if they are sad, depressed, lonely, anxious, or just giving you the cold shoulder. They might be feeling all of those things or just one and until I know for sure I usually have to be careful around them. All I can tell is that something negative is going on with them. Are they feeling the same way I would when I’m sad and just handling it differently, or are they experiencing the emotion differently? Maybe other advocates who have a stronger sensitive feeling trait than I do already know. For me like I’d think most people would feel an almost physical reaction to emotions weather they will admit it or not. Like feeling light when your relaxed, being detached from yourself when your nervous, or deep pain in your gut when you’ve been emotionally hurt. Other personality types may not feel this way, only some of these things they may be able to relate to, or none at all.
2 weeks ago
With the exception of happiness, where I can show more obvious signs of joy, I tend to appear very similar with most other emotions. Sadness, guilt, fear, nervousness... They all tend to be represented by a much more contemplative, tense or neutral demeanor. There may of course be signs that differentiate between emotions and moods but indeed it's about know what to look for. Even when things are good, I might be sitting with a group of friends in a living room or out somewhere and could look completely bored or indifferent. Often, the reality is that I'm simply absorbing what's going on. Listening, appreciating, imagining, and waiting for the right moment to involve myself in a conversation or activity. Part of it comes down to empathy but it's mostly just experience. It's about understanding people in general, but also individuals such as friends and family members. We all have common traits and unique ones that make us what we are. It's about piecing together what we know with what we'd like to know and finding your best approach for any situation. We don't know a lot more than we do. That's why communication is so important. It doesn't mean it's easy but it's important to have that link between what we know and what we don't. I tend to run off on tangents and miss main points at times but that's what I can share at the moment.
2 weeks ago
Does anyone have any advice for introverted Turbulent Analysts who deal with situational depression through self medication (alcohol and marijuana) and distancing themselves from others? As an INFP close friend who faces uncomfortable feelings head on, this is strange to me.
3 days ago
I am an INFP, so I cannot speak directly on behalf of being an Analyst, however, I had struggled a lot with sadness and anxiety. With feelings, I have a tendency to face things head on, but I am a constant improver, so head on with people is difficult. Distance is a scary thing. For a split second, you feel like it's your sanctuary, the one way you can feel sane again, but as social creatures, us humans cannot rely on that, not forever, at least. I personally have not self-medicated, so I do not have the full right to say that I don't believe it is the best way to go about things, but that is my stance. Rather than resulting in using alcohol and marijuana, I believe you should find what works for you. A good book, a good conversation, a good fifteen minutes to reevaluate does wonders. Find something that makes you feel complete, in a healthy sense. If you cook, and feel like the whole world makes sense, cook. If you messily throw paint on a canvas and realize that you get so immersed, you've just spent three hours on it, and it feels liek no time has passed, throw the paint. I'm young, and somewhat inexperienced in the lay of the land, so please take this was a grain of salt, and a bit of common sense, but I do hope this has helped you.
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