2.8 Sad, Hurt, Lonely

Sad, Hurt, Lonely

 In a recent study of 100 women in medically supervised treatment for metabolic disorders, 67% met the diagnostic criteria for moderate to severe depression [25]. We know from that study and others, that depression significantly impacts weight management and vice-versa.


Sadness is a natural response to circumstances we perceive as distressing or disappointing. Aside from the grief associated with death or significant losses, sadness is a temporary emotion. In fact, as physiological responses, emotions are short-lived unless we add thoughts that intensify and prolong the response. Think about saying goodbye to a close friend over the phone. Most of the time, it’s pretty easy. “Ok, talk to you later…Bye”

What’s different when we’re saying goodbye to someone at the airport?  What additional emotions or fears do we add to that setting?

  • Am I going to see ____ again?
  • I don’t know what I’ll do if I lose ____.
  • What if the plane crashes?
  • What if there’s a terrorist attack?
  • What if they meet someone they like better than me?

Okay, you get the picture! What we’re doing instead of saying goodbye is adding or projecting our insecurities, fears, and past experiences into simply saying goodbye. We’re unconsciously setting ourselves up for an emotional bonfire that will justify relapse behavior, eating comfort food, or indulging in a full-blown binge eating episode.


Hurt is an emotion that centers on our perceptions of our relationships. For most of us, it’s brought on by feelings of betrayal, rejection, abandonment, criticism, disappointment, disrespect, and similar experiences. Hurt is a subjective emotional experience because it relies entirely on our perception, interpretation, and understanding of how we see ourselves and our relationships. The what, why, when, where, how, and intensity of “hurt” is a uniquely personal experience.

Unfulfilled expectations are a significant source of hurt and disappointment. Ideally, we all want to be treated consistently in a loving, kind, compassionate, respectful, and nurturing manner. If we demonstrate those qualities, it’s reasonable to think we will be treated similarly by others. Hurt arises when our expectations aren’t met; or when people deliberately or unintentionally treat us poorly. Unfortunately, hurt is a primary pain trigger that often leads to emotionally reactive behaviors. Sometimes, if we begin to feel as though we’re surrounded by vampires – people who leave us feeling drained or dead inside – we may have to create a new tribe or community for ourselves. It’s well known that the emotional interactions we experience in relationships with others significantly affect our mood, confidence, and well-being. Choose support, compassion, and kindness for yourself!


Loneliness is an emotional state that has features of both sadness and hurt, but it brings forth a unique sense of emptiness that we’re somehow missing out on something important in life. This is true because, as a species, we’re social beings. Most of our emotions surface or occur in the context of relationships. Occasionally, we may laugh alone, but more frequently, we laugh in the company of others. Similarly, we may respond to hurt with anger, but we rarely yell (or curse) at ourselves with the same depth of passion we’ll present to others. When loneliness is related to the end of a relationship, then it can be especially painful. We may find ourselves obsessively thinking about what we did wrong, wondering what’s wrong with us (or them), and before we know it, not only are we lonely; we just finished a half gallon of rocky heart-break road feel-better ice cream. Despite our inclinations to isolate, listen to sad music, and lick emotional wounds, when we feel this way, we need to do exactly the opposite. Getting out may be more difficult in times of social distancing, but we still need to find ways to interact with others.

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