Developing a Feeling Vocabulary

By Sharon Lind

One of the most important asset emotionally intense people, and those who live and work with them, need to develop is an extensive feeling vocabulary. Not being able to ACCURATELY articulate (in words or through actions, music, art, movement, journaling, etc) our and other’s feelings can lead to frustration and a reluctance to communicate. Learning the nuances of the expression of emotion leads to validation of feelings and it gives partners, parents, friends, and siblings the language to help the intense person to recognize, accept, express and understand their myriad of feelings.

Here are a number of activities that help to increase a feeling vocabulary. Try these and then have your family create their own.

  • Place a list of feeling words on the refrigerator to peak curiosity (see the following list)
  • Choose a feeling word for the day — jointly look it up in the dictionary and be sure everyone in the family is now familiar with its meaning
  • Chose a feeling word and act out how that might look; draw a picture of the feeling; create a dance that expresses the felling, etc.
  • Pick a word and find all the synonyms you can for it. Talk about how the feelings differ. For example…

Possible Synonyms for ANGRY Possible Synonyms for HAPPY
acrimonious
angry
annoyed
choleric
enraged
furious
incensed
inflamed
infuriated
irate
irked
irritated
mad
miffed
provoked
resentful
upset
blissful
chipper
contented
delighted
ecstatic
elated
euphoric
exhilarated
glad
happy
jolly
jovial
joyful
merry
pleased
rapturous
thrilled

 

 

  • Pick a feeling, find all the synonyms, and then place them in order of intensity from mild to intense. For example:
miffed
â
irked
â
irritated
â
upset
â
angry
â
incensed
â
inflamed
glad
â
happy
â
delighted
â
joyful
â
thrilled
â
rapturous
â
ecstatic
  • REMEMBER feelings are subjective–it is possible to have three people order feeling words differently.

abandoned accepted adequate afraid ambivalent
amused angry annoyed anxious appreciated
astounded awed bad beautiful betrayed
bitter bored brave burdened calm
capable captivated certain challenged cheerful
cherished clever comfortable compassionate competitive
concerned confident confused conspicuous contented
courageous courteous cruel crushed curious
deceitful defeated defiant delighted destructive
determined different disappointed discouraged disgusted
dissatisfied distracted disturbed divided dominated
doubtful dubious eager ecstatic elated
embarrassed empty encouraged envious excited
evil exasperated exhausted fascinated fearful
flustered foolish forced forgiving fortunate
frantic friendly frightened frustrated full
furious glad good grateful greedy
guilty gullible happy hate helpful
helpless hesitant homesick hopeful hopeless
honored horrible humiliated hurt hysterical
ignored immortal important imposed upon impressed
indifferent infatuated infuriated insignificant inspired
insulted interested intrigued irritable irritated
intimidated irritated isolated jealous joyous
jumpy judged kind lazy left out
lonely longing lost lovable loved
loving low mad manipulated mean
methodical miserable naughty nervous nice
obnoxious odd offended outraged out of place
overwhelmed pained panicked peaceful persecuted
perturbed pitied pleasant pleased pressured
pretty proud pushy put down puzzled
rage regretful rejected relaxed relieved
resentful responsible restless rewarded ridiculous
sad satisfied scared self-confident shocked
sick silly skeptical sneaky solemn
spiteful startled stereotyped stingy strange
stunned stupid suffering suspicious sure
surprised sympathetic talkative tempted tenacious
tense tentative terrible terrified thankful
threatened thwarted tired trapped troubled
trusted ugly uncertain uncomfortable uneasy
unequaled unloved unmatched unsettled used
violent vehement vulnerable weary wicked
wonderful worried    

 

 

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