How Are You Feeling?

How many times during the day is this question asked?  We pass someone in the hall at work and ask, “How are you doing?”  Are we really looking for the full answer or just a, “Good, and you?”  I think we would be shocked if our co-worker’s response was an in-depth lengthy answer to this question.  The truth is, in this situation, we aren’t really looking for the person to share their innermost thoughts.

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On the other hand, when we come home from work and our spouse asks, “How was your day?,” we need to have the vocabulary to express our true feelings if we are to be genuine to ourselves and our relationships.  This is definitely harder than it sounds.  Many of us struggle with even recognizing our emotions, let alone identifying them with a label.  Sometimes the labels we have do not accurately describe what we are feeling.

“… You have a heart and nerves the same as your brother men! Why should you be anxious to conceal them?” 

Emily Brontë

There are times the words we use portray a feeling are far deeper than what we are actually feeling.  I may say I am angry, but truthfully a better word to describe my feeling may be frustrated.  There are also times when we use words that are not strong enough such as replying, “happy” when we are actually elated.

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Here are some vocabulary words we can use to describe our feelings:

  • Angry:  annoyed, defensive, disgusted, offended
  • Sad:  depressed, tearful, disappointed, mournful
  • Anxious:  confused, nervous, vulnerable, afraid
  • Hurt:  abandoned, jealous, isolated, victimized
  • Embarrassed:  lonely, confused, guilty, ashamed
  • Happy:  excited, relieved, confident, elated

During this time of pandemic and quarantine, it may be useful to take some time daily to write out your feelings to become more aware of them.  Here are some steps you can take to help in this process. 

  • Set a timer for 10-30 minutes – whatever you are comfortable with.
  • Using either a notebook, journal, or computer, write about the emotions you are experiencing.
  • Don’t try and make it perfect.  The important thing is to get them out onto the paper.  Let your mind take you wherever it wants and just keep writing for the full time. 

“The best way out is always through.”  

Robert Frost

By identifying the intensity of our emotions, being able to distinguish them with the correct vocabulary, and writing to get them out, you will be able to discern which emotions are yours, and which ones belong to someone else.  When you are close to someone and they are upset, it is very easy to take their feelings on as our own.  By going through this process, you will be better able to support your partner in dealing with his/her emotions while at the same time keeping your own feelings separate.  

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This process will also be useful in determining how to move forward in your own life.  If you are having negative feelings in relation to your job, this may help you to identify exactly what those feelings are and what steps you need to take for your career.

Society definitely sends a strong message to suppress our feelings.  We often believe that strong emotions are to be kept inside.  Our emotional health is a very important contributor to our overall physical health.  It is critical to pay attention to our feelings and to be in touch with them, both positive and negative, and to express them appropriately.  

I’m not trying to be sexy. It’s just my way of expressing myself when I move around.

Elvis Presley
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