The (Very) Short Course on Feelings

Maybe like me, you’ve had a tortured relationship with feelings. You’re in the right place. In this one 318-word post, I’m going to give you the essentials on feelings. In very small words to match my tiny little feelings.

Let me start with this newsflash: You have feelings.

Is hunger an emotion?

I have worse news for you: Your coworker has feelings, too. 

Here’s the good news. There are only five basic feelings. I know this because my wife is a therapist and she told me so. 

Here are the five basic feelings:

Primary Feelings: Happy, Sad, Angry, Ashamed, Scared

These five are primary feelings, kind of like the primary colors we learned in grade school. I won’t make you finger paint with these feelings. 

The Range Of Feelings

Just like with colors, these feelings can come with different intensities. Let’s take anger. Even I knew that I got mad before The Therapist schooled me in feelings. Experts in emotions will tell you that when you’re annoyed, that’s mild anger. If you’re enraged to the point of physical violence, that’s severe anger. As you can imagine, there’s a big range of anger between irritation and punching someone in the face.

The same is true for the other emotions. When you’re disappointed, that’s mild sadness. When you’re so depressed you feel numb and can’t get out of bed, that’s severe sadness. When you’re uneasy, you’re a little scared. But when you’re panicked? That’s severe fear. You get the idea.

The Therapist has helpfully curated this Feeling Word Cheat Sheet. For each emotion, the feeling words range from mild at the top of the list to severe at the bottom of the list. 

We have this list printed out and posted on our whiteboard next to our dining room table. Just in case The Therapist needs help identifying her feelings.

Writing that last line made me happy, pleased to be exact. Look at me go.

Be bright

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