Feeling Your Feelings

Feelings!  These are the “big four” and regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender, these basic four feelings – mad, sad, glad, and afraid – are appropriate for you.  We need to feel our feelings, express our feelings and process those feelings, it’s healthy! Here’s why.

Mad

Feeling “mad” or angry about something?  It’s amazing at the number of people that think being mad and/or angry is a bad thing.  Are you aware that if you don’t allow yourself or your child to feel this feeling it can lead to depression?  Feeling mad is not a bad thing, it’s how you chose to handle or behave when you’re angry that is key and crucial.

As an example, being mad or angry and saying hurtful things or hitting a wall are not healthy ways of expression or release.  Taking a walk or punching a punching bag is completely acceptable and a great release!

So think about this one long and hard – mad is not a bad feeling – it’s the behavior that sometimes accompanies it (that’s why anger management programs exist)!

Sad

Feeling “sad” or sadness happens often too.   Basically a loss of something triggers a sad feeling; death and divorce being the most common.  There are a multitude of reasons to be sad, many times we don’t want to admit we’re “sad,” but feeling sad and sadness is very healthy.  With children it helps them to develop empathy which is why we shouldn’t rush to shut down the feeling by telling them “there’s nothing to be sad about,” or using don’t be messages, “don’t be sad, everything is okay.”

Keep in mind: feeling mad or sad is a by-product of not getting what you want.  As we mature our wants change to more mature wants.

Afraid

Being “afraid” is what keeps us from walking into traffic or burning a finger on the stove.  Feeling afraid when there’s a divorce because life will change.  These are examples of things we “should” be afraid of.  Being afraid is not a weakness; being afraid is a natural reaction.  Speaking your truth about your fears with other people is being humble and brings people closer.

One caution: you want to do this safely with people you trust and are comfortable with.

Glad

The easy fun one is “glad” right?  A feel-good feeling and for the most part it isn’t criticized or questioned.  Typically feeling glad is associated with something positive and happy; we want more of it!

What if a child is “glad” his parents are getting a divorce because they yell and scream at each other all the time; or they are abusive.  Can we accept he’s glad they’ve decided to divorce?  Absolutely – honor the feeling.

Self-actualization – setting a goal and achieving it brings JOY a by-product of getting what you want.

All Feelings

There may be times when you or your child will feel all these feelings at the same time.  Let me share a common example that I see with some of the young men I work with in The Quest Project®.

My Mom and Dad have decided to get a divorce.  I’m glad because all they do is yell and scream at each other.  I feel sad when I think about leaving my dad and moving to a different house.  I’m mad at both of them for breaking up our family and feel afraid of what will happen to us next.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling all these feelings.  Ultimately, they need to be honored, validated, and witnessed!

You can find more information to help when raising son(s) HERE!