These are the “BIG FOUR” feelings! Regardless of age or gender, these basic four emotions – mad, sad, glad, and afraid – are appropriate for you. Feeling, expressing and processing your feelings is healthy and highly recommended! Here’s why.
Feeling “mad” or angry about something? Oh no! This feeling scares everyone. I’m amazed at the number of people that think being mad and/or angry is always a negative, 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? It’s 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, becoming 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 – it’s not a bad feeling – it’s the behavior that sometimes accompanies it (that’s why anger management programs exist)!
Feeling “sad” or sadness happens often too. Basically loss is followed by feeling sad; death and divorce are the most common. There are a multitude of reasons to be sad, many times we don’t want to admit we’re “sad,” but being sad and sadness are also very healthy feelings. 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 message, “don’t be sad, everything is okay.”
Feeling mad or sad is a by-product of not getting what you want.
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. All are 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 are comfortable with.
The easy fun one is “glad” right? It’s 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 just want more of it right!
What if a child is “glad” his parents are getting a divorce because they yell and scream at each other all the time; maybe one of the them is abusive towards the other or him. 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.
Feeling 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 troubled young men I’ve worked 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 the family and feel afraid of what will happen next.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling any of these feelings. Ultimately, they only need to be honored, validated and witnessed!
Do you allow yourself and others to feel their feelings?