A Spectrum of Feelings
One of the discoveries I’ve made in doing this work for years, is that most of us have a limited vocabulary when we talk about how we feel.
It has been said that the Eskimos have a hundred words for snow. They know it well, and its many variations. And they can name them, which gives their communication a richer, more precise, meaning to a listener.
But when asked how we feel (and therapists tend to ask that a lot!), someone might say “upset,” or “excited” or “OK.” All of which can be ambiguous.
So… I’ve developed a chart that includes the four basic feelings, three of which rhyme (sad, mad, glad) and the fourth, which is fear. Each feeling runs along a spectrum, based on how we experience that feeling in our body – i.e., how strong of a reaction we might have to it or better known as “how much it pushes our buttons.”
See what synonyms you can come up with for each basic feeling and where you would place them on each spectrum – from 1 to 10 – based on how intensely you experience that feeling. Low response or “button push” would be 1-3, medium 4-6, and high 7 and up. The first time you do this exercise, I suggest you DON’T use a thesaurus. You can do that later.
I’ve included a couple to get you started.
The better you can identify what you are feeling, the better you can communicate who you are to the people who matter to you.
Notice the one(s) you might have a harder time naming. That might be a feeling that you are unfamiliar with or are avoiding.
Please Note: The above exercise was designed by, and is the property of Bea Armstrong, MFT.