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Few tips on learning to talk about our feelings

One interesting aspect of studying psychology is the discovery that many people don’t know how to talk about their feelings. With my linguistic background and experience in creative writing I always thought that speaking my mind and heart is fairly easy, but nowadays, when I learn and practice counselling, I often realise that I still need to learn more in this area. So how do we learn to talk about our feelings? Well, we really need to know the right words to describe the wide range of our emotions and this is the problem we often face: the naming of an emotion. Here is how I study emotions and learn this new vocabulary:

  1. The wheel of emotions by Robert Plutchik – this model of emotional range comes in two format – simplified is available here on Wikipedia, and more complex one can be found on Pinterest (where checking similar results leads to more ideas;))
  2. Emotions on Wikipedia – did you know that all major emotions mentioned in Plutchik’s wheel are also defined separately on Wikipedia? I think it’s a great exercise to read each definition and think about its meaning.
  3. The Book of Human Emotions by Tiffany Watt Smith contains interesting feelings, oftentimes characteristic of a particular culture or a very specific situation.
  4. “Untranslatable Words” from the School of Life – a brilliant small set of words specific for various languages – I know some of those feelings but I really do not know how to name them in English
  5. The mood cards – combining positive psychology with a bit of cognitive-behavioral therapy – I think it’s good to learn to talk about positive emotions too
  6. We Feel Fine project – an exploration of emotions from the social web, fascinating!
  7. Dictionary of Emotions by Patrick Michael Ryan – a really good collection
  8. Interesting words on Pinterest – I think there are so many wonderful words defined on Pinterest that we could just sit and read them all day long, many of them describe feelings or emotional states
  9. OED Word of the Day on Twitter – Twitter account of the Oxford English Dictionary featuring a series of interesting words
  10. Word of the Day on Twitter – as above but only with interesting words

I have listed just a few ideas on how to improve one’s emotional vocabulary, but if you have any other tips, do share in comments or send them to us.

Photo: under CC0 licence

3 Responses

    1. I think finding the right words is the first step, but it’s never easy – maybe it’s a question of practicing:) I find it is easier to start with discussing feelings with my son, I feel children are less judgemental.

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