Take a Minute for Your Emotions
Even if you don’t know what to call them
How are you feeling?
Please take a moment to establish your truest answer to that question. And before you try too hard to find the vocabulary, know this objective truth: feeling words are hard. Naming emotions is hard. It’s not necessary that you use the words everyone has accepted as “literally correct” when it comes to feelings. One of my most commonly used feeling words is “blob.”
There are always the classics, which offer a great place to start: happy, sad, angry. But honestly, those ones are sometimes tough to own! It’s kind of like putting on Chanel Number Five — like, everyone KNOWS this scent, but is this really MY scent? Or, am I a Big Enough Deal to pull this off? But hey, no one’s gonna judge you here: try them on. Do any of the big three feel true right now? If it’s just between you and yourself?
Let’s add “grieving” to the list, too — because usually when you’re grieving, you don’t want to call it grieving. “No one has died tragically or unexpectedly,” you say, “and so I have not earned ‘grieving.’” But I have experienced the relief of calling grief by its name, even when the impetus is small. If you suspect that you might be grieving, try putting your hand on your chest, closing your eyes, and saying, “I am grieving.” If you find that it feels true, then no further explanation is needed. Hold that emotion for as long as you need.
I recently had a phone call with someone who shared with me that she had a lot of anger in her. It was refreshing to hear her say that; I realized that I don’t typically hear people talk about their anger, except in the context of social justice (which is great and valid and worthy and true, too). But private and personal anger being called by its name was interesting, and felt real to me. “I want someone who can be with me in my anger,” she said. And that makes sense; I definitely…