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  • Rebecca Clinton

Feel all the feels


Let’s talk about feeling emotions. 


Sometimes it doesn’t feel good to feel emotions.

I mean who wants to feel sad?

Who wants to feel frustrated?


But I would bet if you were offered the opportunity feel fantastic you would say “Sign me up! I’m all in!” But that isn’t how 'feeling all the feels' works. To “feel all the feels” you have to feel ALL the feels. The positive emotions and the negative. 


Brené Brown, LMSW, PhD (who I highly recommend!) says “we can not selectively numb emotions. When we numb the painful emotions we also numb the positive emotions”. I don’t know about you but I would feel pain knowingly I will feel joy. I wouldn’t want to miss out on joy!


We often struggle though in our emotional vocabulary. We just know it doesn’t feel good. Whatever we are feeling. I provide clients with a feelings wheel (I put it below for your enjoyment!) 



When we broaden our emotional vocabulary we are able define our emotions more clearly. This allows us to feel them in their fullest and to not simply stay stuck in an anger, sadness, or frustration that we can not put reason too. 


Take a look at the wheel. Let's look at the red words. See how many words fall under the red... fear, angry, hateful, critical and I could go on. But they all feel red. And if we don't have the emotional vocabulary to say "Look I am in fear of _____" we might scream out "I am so angry at you!" But that's not the same! By identifying that anger and fear can feel similar we can begin to differentiate between the two. Fear releases power to someone else. I am fearful of you doing something that may hurt me, us, or somebody/something else. Anger allows me to harness the power. I am angry at you. That gives me the power. Allowing myself to identify the emotion of fear and be vulnerable to it allows me to have a better understanding and not get stuck in anger. Getting stuck in anger is not healthy!


Here's a better example of fear versus anger. "I am angry at you for failing your test" versus "I am fearful that I am not doing enough to make sure you retain the information you need for the test. What more do you need from me?" See the difference? One gives me power and one allows vulnerability and a path to resolution.


Let's look happy. We can say the same thing about the positive emotions. One could say "I am happy about your promotion" but that isn't the same as "I am excited about your promotion".


How can you use the wheel to broaden your emotional vocabulary? Where do you see yourself getting stuck on the wheel? Don't allow yourself to get stuck. Don't numb yourself to certain emotions. Emotions serve a purpose. Emotions tell a part of our story that is reflective of our heart and our spirit.


If you feel stuck on the wheel please reach out! Let's talk. Feel free to call me at (210) 714-1346 or email at rebeccaclinton@itherapymail.com .

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©2019 by Rebecca Clinton, LCSW.