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  • Writer's pictureGeorgina Sturmer

What happens if you don't know what you're feeling?

We spend a lot of time talking about feelings, thinking about feelings, avoiding our feelings, ignoring our feelings. And many of us can list them, the big ones that often spring to mind: anxiety, anger, fear, sadness, joy, embarrassment, and so on. But what happens if you don't know what you're feeling? I spoke to Happiful all about why it can be so hard to understand our own feelings, and how to develop our understanding of what's going on inside. Click here to read the full article, or read on to hear what I had to say.

Why it can be so hard to understand our own emotions? They don’t manifest in uniform or predictable ways.  Think about what happens to you when you ‘feel’ a certain way.  Our emotions don’t walk into the room and introduce themselves.  Sometimes they creep up slowly, unannounced.  Sometimes they rush in and take over the whole space before we can do anything.  And sometimes they hide away, ignored, or rejected.  

Sometimes we don't know what we are feeling because we can experience more than one feeling at the same time.  When we’re feeling overwhelmed by emotion, there’s a good chance that we’re feeling more than one thing at the same time.  It might be emotions that feel like they belong together, like anger and fury.  Or it might be emotions that feel like they contradict each other, like contentment and sorrow.  

If you don't know what you're feeling, it might also be because we don’t all feel the same feelings in the same way.  Your version of anxious or angry might feel different from my version of anxious or angry. We sense our feelings in our bodies and minds in distinct and individual ways.  

Tips on how to cope if you don't know what you're feeling. It starts with noticing.  Noticing the events or people that trigger the sense that things are ‘off’.  It might be lifestyle factors too – does sleep, food or drink play a role?  You might start noticing patterns or themes that emerge.  Notice what your body feels like, the rhythm of your breath, are you able to stay present or do you disappear off somewhere in your mind?  

Consider whether you feel that you deserve to experience what you are feeling.  Sometimes we suppress our feelings because we feel embarrassed or unworthy.  This might particularly be the case if your life appears happy and successful to others.  Do you feel as if you are allowed to experience things like anger, jealousy, frustration or fear?

Consider your emotional vocabulary.  There are different ways of doing this.  You can download a ‘feelings wheel’, which will offer you a whole range of words that might encapsulate what you’re feeling.  Or you can use creative ways to differentiate your feelings.  Does your feeling match a particular scent, colour, flavour, weather pattern, food or drink?  If you enjoy putting pen to paper then try writing it down or drawing it.  

Then be curious.  This starts with asking ourselves the question, ‘I wonder why I feel this way?’.  It often turns out that we know the answer, even if we are confused by our feelings.  Counselling can provide you with the space to connect with this question and explore the root causes of your feelings in more detail.  

Share how you’re feeling.  If you’re feeling confused or disconnected from your feelings, it’s likely that your friends or family may have noticed that something is ‘off’ too. 

Keen to explore more?

I love working with people to help them to understand themselves, and why they feel the way that they do. If you’d like to learn more, please get in touch. Click here to contact me or click here to book a free 30-minute introductory chat.

What happens if you don't know what you're feeling?

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