What if I don’t know what I’m feeling?

          Have you ever gotten all confused and mixed up when you felt “stressed out”, “upset” or “overwhelmed”? Do you often not know what you are feeling? And, it all seems to come and go so quickly. Have you ever not known how to put your emotions into words? It can take a bit of time and a bit of effort to recognize, understand and name what we are feeling. And, it sure can be difficult to talk to others about what we are experiencing in an effective way.

           “We usually learn about emotions as single events: we can be happy or sad, but not both; We can feel contented but not envious; or if we feel any emotion alongside anger, anger becomes a secondhand emotion. This is an idea that most of us have learned, but it’s wrong, and it creates emotional ignorance.” states Karla McLaren in her book, “Embracing Anxiety: How to Access the Genius of This Vital Emotion, 2020.

           McLaren highlights four keys to “Emotional Genius” in her book.  Her third key is the idea that, “It is normal for emotions to work in pairs, groups, and clusters.” She goes on to say, “It is absolutely normal to feel more than one emotion at the same time. When you understand emotions as aspects of your basic intelligence and cognition, then it makes sense that you would often need more than one emotion working to support you.”

           So, don’t worry if it all seems jumbled and confusing. Just begin by allowing multiple emotions to exist at the same time and begin to identify one feeling, say, frustration or anxiety or anger. Then, as you explore further you may find another, very different feeling alongside the first one.

What if I have trouble talking about how I feel?

           One hurdle to talking about our feelings in English is the limited emotional vocabulary in the English language. This keeps so many of us unaware of the normal behavior of emotions. Though it is ordinary and necessary for multiple emotions to arise at the same time, McLaren points out that there are only four words in the English language that describe multiple emotions; Bittersweet, Gloating, Nostalgic and Ambivalent. There are very few words that we commonly use to describe a mixture of feelings in one word.

          McLaren suggests expanding our creation and use of “blended emotion words“. This could help us express a mixture or multitude of feelings that we might be experiencing all at once. She suggests words such as “confusiety”, “panxiety” and “angerxiety” to describe how anxiety can also come along with confusion, panic or anger.

         Although these might seem difficult to pronounce, they open up a doorway to see how complex and contradictory our feelings and emotions can be. Once through the doorway, you can more easily accept, listen and organize your experiences so you can communicate them to others when you wish.

          Developing Emotional Genius or Emotional Wisdom is a process involving many skills and usually a bit of practice. For example, the idea of an “Anger Iceberg” can help you explore what can come along with or beneath anger. Luckily, there are Emotional Wisdom Tools that can help you!

Download your FREE PDF, “Look Under Anger Tool”,


and start or continue on your Emotional Wisdom journey today!

Any comment, questions or ideas, leave a comment below or email Sharon at Sharon@SharonSanborn.com

© 2020 Sharon Sanborn