You could earn SmartPoints on this page!SmartPoint Coin

March 15, 2012 at 4:32 PMComments: 6 Faves: 2

Sad People, Mad People

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Id and Ego Blog Series

There’s a theory I developed and I’ve been sharing with various people in need. I think it’s good advice for us all so I thought rather than tell a handful of people one at a time, why not tell a… slightly larger number… (ah, self-effacing humor) of people all at once.

I can’t remember in exactly which instance it came to me, but I’m pretty sure I was feeling cruddy – and not the mild disappointment kind of cruddy, the sort of cruddy that only wants to feel more and more cruddy (maybe “cruddy” isn’t the right word for it )- at the time.  ANYWHO, you get the general idea – I was doing my sad girl thing - listening to sad girl music, drinking wine, sitting in the dark – when it hit me – what the heck?!

Why am *I* the one sitting around feeling hurt? I’ll bet [name removed to protect the guilty] is hanging out and having a good time right now!

I realized we had two different natures. I was a sad person and [guilty] was a mad person.  Further, I realized that pretty much everyone fit into one of these categories. 

Sad People…

Sad people (people that are more likely to be sad) are people that take on more than their appropriate share of responsibility. Unconsciously, they feel they are in control of everything and while that CAN be a very empowering place to come from, it can also be a tremendous burden.  

When their car breaks down (out of sheer bad luck), when someone snubs them (because they’re a judgmental jerk), when they STILL haven’t received that raise (because their boss is cheap), they feel it is their fault.

They excuse outside sources for their part in the situation and take more than their fair share on themselves.

Mad People…

Mad people (people that are more likely to be mad) on the other hand, are people that take LESS than their fair share of responsibility. Unconsciously, they feel outside sources are responsible for everything - which CAN be wonderfully freeing, but can leave them feeling out of control and disimpowered to enact beneficial change.

When their car breaks down (because they neglected maintenance), when someone snubs them (because the last time they saw them, they were rude), when they STILL haven’t received that raise (because they spend all day slacking), they’ll blame anyone but themselves.

They excuse themselves for their part in the situation and leave more than a fair share on outside parties.

In An Ideal World (The Advice Part)

Of course, those are the extremes.

In an ideal world, we all rest comfortably smack in the middle of the two – feeling sad or mad only where appropriate, understanding our own responsibility as well as the responsibility of others.

The advice part being that whether you are more of a sad or more of a mad type of person, you need to recognize that tendency inside yourself.

That sad people recognize when they are inappropriately taking responsibility for the events or the actions of others and that mad people recognize when they are not owning up to their own part in the situation. That’s the first step.

The second, as odd as it may sound, is not that they should just get over it. Instead, my advice for sad people is “Try being mad!” about mistreatment from others and my advice for mad people is “Allow yourself to feel sad.” about your part in the problem.

THEN move on.

It’s a simple enough concept, but of course, it’s an easier-said-than-done-situation. I mean, what I’m talking about is a pretty major lifestyle/personality change – and those are the hardest changes of them all! Still, it gets easier every time you successful switch gears.

I’m hoping this helps somebody…DANG IT! ;)

More from Erin Froehlich Others Are Reading


  • Love this post, Erin! Like you, I tend to be more of the "sad person" variety. And I've been starting to recognize lately that it's just not healthy.

    My dad is a philosophy professor (he would literally read philosophy books aloud at dinner sometimes), and one of his favorite philosophers is the stoic philosopher Epictetus. Epictetus's main idea is that, in order to be content, you have to realize that some things are under your control, and some things are not under your control. And as much as I liked to complain about those dinnertime philosophy lessons, I grudgingly have to admit that Epictetus has been hugely helpful. I've learned that my attitude and my actions are under my control; other people are not under my control. It's kind of a sad person/mad person kind of thing. And it has definitely helped me get out of some of those "sad person" funks. :)

  • Thanks, Laura!

    And you're right, the basis of the idea is that we control somethings and others, we don't. I think all of us - some more than others - have a problem discerning which is which at times and that based on our personality, tend more toward one way or the other.

    The key to happiness is a balance between the two, but of course, sometimes it's appropriate to be sad, others it's appropriate to be angry. I've just found in my own personal experience, when I'm feel stuck in one of my "sad people" ruts it's been easier to transition out of it when I allow myself to be angry about the things I really have the right to be angry about.

  • Erin! This is such a great post. Thank you for writing it. Honestly, it called me out on a couple things... ;)

    I can tend to be a mix of both. I am sad and blame myself and feel sorry for's the "woe is me thought" that starts circling in my brain.

    But I also have a hard time expressing when I'm mad and when I do it's when I've reached a breaking that's not really healthy either. Like you said, there is a balance between the two. And it's a constant learning process to figure out what's the best time to utilize either feeling. What helps me is reading certain bible helps me see that someone else out there has control over everything not me. And that's just what works for me...

  • Awesome post! When I saw the title, I had to read it. I think I am a mix of both sad and mad, but I think that I tend to lean toward the mad side of the spectrum. I have a very difficult time expressing sadness, but I can express anger if I want to. Most of the time, however, I'll hold it in and try to get passed it. I agree that finding a balance is the key to happiness and it takes a lot of work. I find that listening to certain types of music really helps me out.

  • Thanks, Bri! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    You are right. There aren't many people that are ONLY ever sad or ONLY ever mad when something bad happens- that would be crazy! We are all a mix of both and that's good, best if the mix is closer to 50/50!

    I know a lot of people though - myself included - that are more like 70/30 or 30/70 - that are significantly more likely to respond with sadness than with anger or the other way around.

    I think that a large part of this tendency depends on how we see our level of control and responsibility in our lives. I've observed that people that tend to react with hurt are the sort of people that overestimate their control or take on more than their fair share of responsibility.

    People on the other side, people that tend to get mad, the people that may actually appear more confident in other situations are overcompensating. They underestimate their control and their responsibility. Once again, in my personal observation.

    We all need to find a balance - in our view of our level of control and responsibility and in the expression of our feelings. Sad people need to allow themselves to be angry when they have the right to be so it doesn't bottle up like you said. Mad people need to acknowledge their sadness and disappointment with themselves so that those feelings don't bottle up either.

    It's important to our personal growth that we be able to pinpoint the sources of struggles or failures - whether they come from our own actions or from another's - and to learn from that experience.

  • Thanks, Brad!

    I'm glad you spoke up, because it gives me the opportunity to say that what I'm taking about here is not a good guy/ bad guy situation (even though when we see a collision between sad and mad people we tend to want to protect the sad person, not the mad one who seems fully capable of protecting themselves.)

    I'd also like to reiterate that there are times where it's not only OKAY, but important to be mad.

    Once again though, there's the balance thing.

    Being sad also means being vulnerable and that can be a scary thing, especially when you tend feel things just "are the way they are" and your ability to change them is minimal. It's important though that you allow yourself to grieve appropriately. That you try and see from the other perspective, that you acknowledge your part in the situation and learn from it.

    When we take time to understand the roots of our anger and decide whether or not they are appropriate, it may be uncomfortable, but we feel more in control.

Comment on the Smart Living Network

Site Feedback