Making Peace With Your Unwelcome Emotions, Part 3: Identifying Feelings and Needs

September 13, 2015

 

 

 

In parts 1 and 2 we looked at the importance of grounding and bringing awareness to bodily sensations when unwelcome emotions arise. Often we don't realize the influence even a fleeting incidental emotional state can have on our decisions. When scanning your body with a nonjudgmental observing presence you can perceive body events of emotions you may not have been noticing, and begin to understand how those emotions are influencing your actions and your future.

 

Once you have dropped into your body and brought awareness to what sensations are accompanying your emotional state, it's helpful to identify and name your present feeling. This is important because it may not be the same emotion that you initially felt. As you mindfully observed what sensations were present in step 2 you may have located a deeper underlying emotion, such as a sadness under the anger, or a sense of shame beneath the anxiety, or perhaps you transitioned into another emotional state altogether.

 

As simple as it sounds, accurately naming emotions can take some getting used to. We tend to have far more words available to judge, criticize, or insult than we have language on hand to clearly express our emotional state. That's because when difficult emotions surface it may seem easier to keep our focus on the other rather than to connect with our own feelings. So see if you can get precise in describing your emotional state, for example are you feeling confused or would ambivalent, conflicted, or hesitant be more accurate? Try to get very specific in expressing how you are feeling without using words that describe thoughts, judgments or interpretations. To help with this process I've included a list of feeling words compiled by Marshall Rosenberg, the creator of NonViolent Communication, at the end of this blog entry.

 

Marshall Rosenberg taught of the importance of connecting with our feelings, that behind every feeling there is a need, and that some feelings point to the obstruction of our needs. In order to get our needs met we must first identify them clearly, so the next step is to connect the feeling you've narrowed in on and named to a need. Perhaps you have a need to be seen, a need to be understood, a need for human contact, or a need for some time to yourself. Identifying your needs will deepen your awareness of why the emotion surfaced, and what it was trying to bring to your attention.

 

Once you've clearly identified the need you can determine whether you can meet it yourself, or choose to make a request of another. In making a request be sure to state what you do need, not what you don't want, and try not to imply wrongness on the part of other people. Rosenberg teaches, "Needs contain no reference to specific ways of getting met, those are preferences," and that no one person is responsible for meeting our needs. It's important to remember that you are responsible for how you feel and for your needs being met, this is personal empowerment.

 

In concluding, it's important to remember our emotions are a state of feeling accompanied by physical and psychological changes that influence behavior; getting clear on your emotional state will bring more awareness to your experience, ultimately impacting your decisions and your future. Your feelings often result from how you choose to receive what others say and do, as well as your individual needs and expectations in the moment. When we relate our feelings to our needs and share them it opens the possibility for deeper connection. When emotions arise, especially unwelcome ones, make contact with yourself, not just up in your head, but with the entirety of your experience, and you'll discover more of the wisdom your body-mind and emotions contain.

 

 

www.feltsenseresonance.com

 

FEELING WORDS compiled by Marshall Rosenberg.

You may want to add more words to describe some of your feeling states. Avoid words like misunderstood, used, judged, manipulated, ignored, rejected, betrayed... these words are more of a diagnosis of the other person that apply wrongness rather than a feeling state.

 

AGONY

anguish

bereaved

brokenhearted

distress

grief

hurt

miserable

misery

mournful

pain

sad

sorrow

woe

wretched

 

ANGERY

enraged

furious

indignant

ire

outraged

vengeful

 

ANNOYED

aggravated

aroused

displeased

exasperated

frustrated

impatient

irked

irritated

miffed

peeved

vexed

 

AVERSION

alienated

animosity

bitter

disgusted

dislike

hate

hostile

loathing

repugnance

repulsed

resentment

 

DISAPPOINTED

agitated

alarmed

discouraged

disgruntled

disheartened

dismayed

disquiet

dissatisfied

disturbed

perturbed

rattled

startled

surprised

troubled

turbulent

turmoil

uncomfortable

uneasy

unsettled

upset

 

DISCONNECTED

aloof

apathetic

cold

contemptuous

cool

distant

indifferent

inhibited

nonchalant

numb

passive

pity

reluctant

remote

removed

reserved

unconcerned

unmoved

withdrawn

 

EMBARRASSED

ashamed

deflated

guilty

insecure

regretful

remorseful

shy

sorry

unsure of self

 

ENVIOUS

desirous

longing

nostalgic

pining

wistful

yearning

 

FEARFUL

anxious

apprehensive

daunted

dread

edgy

foreboding

frightened

guarded

horror

insecure

jittery

leery

mistrustful

nervous

panicky

petrified

scared

suspicious

terror

unnerved

wary

worried

 

GLOOMY

dejected

depressed

despairing

despondent

forlorn

hopeless

lonely

melancholy

mopey

pessimistic

resigned

 

TENSE

burdened

burnt out

constricted

cranky

depleted

distracted

distraught

encumbered

exhausted

fidgety

fragile

frazzled

intense

irritable

listless

off-centered

overwhelmed

restless

sensitive

stressed

stretched

ungrounded

vulnerable

 

CONFUSED

ambivalent

befuddled

conflicted

discombobulated

dizzy

doubtful

dubious

hesitant

in a daze

indecisive

lost

mystified

perplexed

puzzled

tentative

torn

uncertain

unclear

unsure

 

TIRED

bored

draggy

enervated

fatigued

lethargic

lifeless

low life energy

low vitality

sleepy

weary

 

www.feltsenseresonance.com

 

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Copyright 2019 Erika Shershun, LMFT. All rights reserved.