Naming Emotions

This morning I woke up feeling irritable. Some emotions simply feel bad. Grief, shame, disappointment, frustration, isolation, fear, and some feelings of sadness can feel as though they weigh us down.

It's easy to hook into these emotions when we feel them and to start looking at the world through the lense of the emotion and to tell ourselves that we have anxiety, stress, or depression. We can start to worry that we have a disorder and begin to notice that we feel this way quite often. After a while we get into a habit of checking out these feelings and quantifying them; 'How depressed or anxious am I right now?'

We commonly use these umbrella terms to describe or identify a wide range of emotions. Interestingly enough if we can get a bit more complex in connecting with our emotions and identify them in more detail we might discover that we are actually feeling lonelysad, because we have lost something or someone; worried about some important deadline looming; resentful about the way someone is treating us at home or at work; overwhelmed by our workload; despondent about climate change or politics; or another feeling response to something that is happening in our world. Many of these things are out of our control.

Being able to identify the feelings and name them is an important step in deepening our understanding of ourselves and what we need. Identifying specific feelings has also been shown to reduce their intensity. It seems that acknowledging how we are really feeling and what it is about enables us to get alongside ourselves and make these human experiences normal instead of something we need to fight.

It is human to feel, and to feel many different emotions. Understanding that is a big step in our emotional maturity. Ready to experiment? How are you feeling right now and how many words can you use to describe it?