Mad, Sad, Glad and Afraid

Mad, Sad, Glad, and Afraid - Clayton Lessor

These are my BIG FOUR!  Regardless if you’re young, old, male or female these basic four emotions – mad, sad, glad, and afraid – are appropriate for you.  Processing your feelings is healthy and I highly recommend that.  Here’s why.

Feeling Angry

Feeling angry or “mad?”  Oh no!  This is the feeling that scares everyone.  I’m always amazed at the number of people that think being mad and/or angry is always a negative.  I can tell you that if you don’t allow yourself or your child to feel this feeling it can lead to depression.  It’s how you handle or behave while being angry that is key and crucial.

Getting angry and saying hurtful things or hitting a wall are not healthy ways of release.  But taking a walk, or hitting a punching bag is completely acceptable!  So think about this one long and hard – it’s not the feeling that’s bad – it’s the behavior.  That’s why anger management programs exist!

Feeling Sad

Then there is “sad.”  Maybe you lost a loved one or your parents are getting a divorce.  There are a multitude of reasons to be sad, yet I find so many times that we don’t want to admit we’re “sad.”  Being sad and sadness are also very healthy feelings.  In a child it helps them to develop empathy which shouldn’t be shut down by telling them “there’s nothing to be sad about,” or the don’t be message, “don’t be sad, everything is okay.” 

Anger or sadness is a by-product of not getting what you want.

Feeling Afraid

Being “afraid” is what keeps us from walking into traffic, or burning yourself on a stove.  Feeling afraid when there’s a divorce because life will change.  All of these are things we “should” be afraid of.  Yet I see so many that think being afraid is weak; being afraid is natural to many situations and it’s a good thing.  Speaking your truth about your fears with other people is being humble and brings people closer.  One caution – you want to do this safely and with people you are comfortable with.

Feeling Glad

“Glad,” easy one right?  It’s a feel good feeling and for the most part, an emotion that isn’t criticized or questioned.  Typically its associated with something positive and being happy.

What if a child is “glad” his parents are getting a divorce because they yelled and screamed at each other all the time.  Or maybe one of the parents was abusive to the other or him?  Can we accept he’s glad about that?  I say absolutely – honor the feeling.

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

All Together Now – Mad, Sad, Glad, and Afraid

Interestingly there are times when you or your child might feel all of these feelings at the same time.  Let me give you a for instance 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.”

Do you know what I say about that?  Good – you have a right to feel mad, sad, glad, and afraid – and there’s nothing wrong with any of those feelings.  Ultimately he is validated/acknowledged by being witnessed.

What do you think, do you allow yourself and others to feel their feelings?


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  1. Phil on August 22, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Very simple way to explain emotions to teens

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