There are many moments where my mind is in several places and it ends up feeling like one big blob of STRESS. A few months ago I discovered a list from the Hoffmann Institute that broke out 208 different feelings in 18 categories (Fear, Accepting, Unsettled, etc) along with 72 different body sensations.
Many times I struggle to identify and clarify feelings of frustration or impatience, for example when I’m going from task to task during the day and feeling the desire to get everything done at once. I realized to get out of this my mind needed an exercise. In order to name your feelings, two exercises are needed. First, you have to shift your mind to focus on one thing only and second, you have to be patient to allow the real feeling to come up.
As soon as I started reading the list I was able to do that. As I went through each category, I was able to distinguish the feeling that I matched with the word and even relabeled certain moments that made it feel more ‘right’. The accuracy of the word showed me that feelings are very contextual and nuanced. I thought, if I can name what I feel in the moment, maybe it will help me feel more grounded. It did!
A study from the Netherlands sampling 11,000 people showed that their everyday life seemed profoundly emotional, experiencing at least one emotion 90% of the time. But I find the issue to be that we don’t slow down to name our feelings at all. Once I read this list, I didn’t just identify new emotions, I realized that the feeling actually existed inside of me. There was something physiological about it. My nervous system felt it!
Apprehensive or concerned - ahh I usually just say ‘worried’
Impatient or on edge in - ‘I’m a bit anxious’
Playful or energized - ‘happy’
Mindfulness and a bit of patience can get you to a grounded place and plenty of evidence that it is positively correlated with improved psychological well-being. I practice mindfulness formally and passively through meditation and being aware of my environment, and the Hoffman list has now given me more vocabulary and awareness about what I actually feel. These practices have influenced my mental health for the better.
So here’s my ask from you in the next 2-3 minutes: Read through the Hoffman list above, pick out some feelings that you could use in place of other words/emotions that you typically have, and put them in the comments below!
"You can't heal what you can't feel." -DMC from Run DMC