understanding and expressing feelings



Feelings (Photo credit: zenera)


The Stonehenge of feelings

The Stonehenge of feelings (Photo credit: Alin Stan)


Feelings Gone

Feelings Gone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


English: Diagram which shows links between emo...

English: Diagram which shows links between emotions, feelings and expression. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


English: Managing emotions - Identifying feelings

English: Managing emotions – Identifying feelings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Cover of "Feelings"

Cover of Feelings

What are feelings?

Feelings (emotions) are inner experiences of mood. They can be pleasant or unpleasant, mild or strong. They can be kept to yourself or shared with others. Often they come along with physical sensations like a rapid heartbeat or sweaty palms. Emotions can push human beings toward action.

Most human feelings fall into one of these groups: happy, sad, angry, scared, or confused. Within each group are many other feelings described by words that express shades of meaning or the level of intensity of the emotion.

  • Happy: joyful, delighted, pleased
  • Sad: hopeless, upset, sorry
  • Angry: hateful, irritated, annoyed
  • Scared: terrified, fearful, anxious
  • Confused: stunned, hesitant, torn

Other important human emotions that may not fall into these main groups are sexual feelings, guilt, shame, loyalty, and forgiveness.

How much feeling is “normal?”

All human beings have feelings. No particular amount is normal, but some people have intense feelings and must struggle to control them, while others have to work hard even to know what their feelings are.

Sometimes you may not be aware of what is causing strong feelings. You may think you are overreacting to something. It may help to discuss these strong feelings in some detail with someone who cares about you. What looks like an overreaction may actually make emotional, rather than logical, sense.

You can help friends or family understand their feelings by helping them put their emotions into words. With someone who is crying and grieving a loss, for example, it can be much more helpful to say, “You are feeling sad because you miss her so much”, than to say, “Don’t cry.”

How do people deal with feelings?

People may have trouble identifying how they feel. Many feelings can be mixed together. Having too many feelings they can’t separate, such as sadness mixed with anger, can cause “feeling overload”. Strong feelings push human beings toward action. If you are angry at being cut off by another driver in heavy traffic, for example, you can act (run into the other car), or think (say to yourself, “He certainly is in a hurry,” or, “I am not going to let my anger get out of control today”). Thoughts can be used to control how we express feelings.

If you are very logical, you may not be aware of your own feelings. You may use thoughts and ideas to hide your feelings, sometimes without even realizing that you are doing so. You may be afraid that if you allow any feeling into your life you will lose control.

In order to deal with feelings, people need to learn:

  • how to identify what their feelings are
  • how to accept feelings as normal and healthy
  • how to talk about their feelings
  • how to act appropriately on their feelings

Why are feelings important?

Feelings help make you who you are. No one can take your feelings away from you, and when you understand them, you can use your feelings to guide your actions. Get to know your feelings to help you understand yourself and others better.

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