Labelling of Emotions

Rleathen

New Here
One of the challenges I have is being able to correctly label or even label at all, the emotions I'm feeling in any given situation. For example when doing an EMDR session with my T she will often ask me what I''m feeling, what emotion am I experiencing and I can't for the life of me label it to be able to even answer her. In other words the extent of my emotion labeling is ..."yup its a bad" emotion/feeling or ...it's a "not bad" emotion/feeling (never "it's a good" emotion/feeling). If you asked me to explain the difference between empathy, compassion, sympathy or pity I couldn't tell you. If you asked me to explain the difference between anger, irritation, rage, frustration I really couldn't tell you. It really does make therapy a challenge especially when you hear comments like "label it to own it" or "you've got to feel the emotional pain to move forward from it". Does anybody else experience this and if yes how did you manage/handle it? Thanks in advance.
 

Friday

Moderator
There are times I don’t feel anything.

There are times when the only things I can actually feel have to SPIKE to THIS level to be felt, so everything is either pure rage, or unadulterated joy, or (sadness). That’s it. Those 3. Crystal clear. The tippiest points, of the most extreme ends of the emotional spectrums.

There are times what I am feeling is so numb and distorted that I can’t even begin to describe what I’m feeling with any degree of accuracy. I’d have to recognize WTF they are to name them, even if I did I doubt I’d have the words. Weltering clusterf*ck is probably the closest.

-Then there are a whole bunch of different examples of what I’m feeling being right, true, & accurate. Some boldly so, some nuanced, some layered and complex. But those aren’t the droids we’re looking for, right now ;)-

There are times I know exactly what I’m feeling, and equally know that what I’m feeling is wrong. It’s a different kind of divorce, from my head and my heart, as feeling nothing, numbed/distorted, or extreme-emotions-only. But on the spectrum of f*cked up feelings? It’s worth noting.

***
So... yep. In a few different ways.
 

Rleathen

New Here
I know quite well about the wheel of emotions...........still is of no help because the wheel of emotions requires you to know what the emotions actually feel like to be able to be useful. For example sure the the wheel shows that disgusted drives feelings of contempt, repulsive, apathetic, averse but if you can't label what you are feeling as apathy then how do you know that the driving emotion is disgust. The wheel of emotions helps when you have the abilty to at least label your feelings. It doesn't work so ell when everything you are feeling is unlabelled.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
when you hear comments like "label it to own it" or "you've got to feel the emotional pain to move forward from it"
I think feeling is acknowledging, even if there's no name for it. I think the idea is to not deny or otherwise minimize? I;m not good at it either (& don't really see the point for myself), but sometimes there are other words or analogies that can describe it easier.

I also recognize, for example, I can cry easy for others, don't mostly for myself. But either way can't explain what I'm feeling (or not feeling). Heartbroken for them; written off for myself, maybe?

Good luck! :hug:
 

Rumors

MyPTSD Pro
One of the challenges I have is being able to correctly label or even label at all, the emotions I'm feeling in any given situation. For example when doing an EMDR session with my T she will often ask me what I''m feeling, what emotion am I experiencing and I can't for the life of me label it to be able to even answer her. In other words the extent of my emotion labeling is ..."yup its a bad" emotion/feeling or ...it's a "not bad" emotion/feeling (never "it's a good" emotion/feeling). If you asked me to explain the difference between empathy, compassion, sympathy or pity I couldn't tell you. If you asked me to explain the difference between anger, irritation, rage, frustration I really couldn't tell you. It really does make therapy a challenge especially when you hear comments like "label it to own it" or "you've got to feel the emotional pain to move forward from it". Does anybody else experience this and if yes how did you manage/handle it? Thanks in advance.
Verbatim... have the same things happen. Backed up to work on being able to label the feeling and at least recognize it is a feeling and where it comers from. When you spend a lifetime shutting that part out, it takes a while to learn what those things are. Give it time.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
It doesn't work so ell when everything you are feeling is unlabelled.
A way to work on this is jot down some thoughts you're having, along with the feeling. It might be how you'd describe it to others, or just how you'd describe it to yourself. Then, search up the definitions for the feelings you think might be related.

Naming emotions is something that takes practice, and everyone comes to it differently. But the process of naming the emotion is nearly always useful, especially in diffusing that emotion. In putting focus towards trying to find the best/most accurate name for the feeling, you are proactively taking your focus away from the feeling, itself. You'll find yourself regulating as part of the process - like a beneficial by-product of doing the exercise.
 

Rleathen

New Here
A way to work on this is jot down some thoughts you're having, along with the feeling. It might be how you'd describe it to others, or just how you'd describe it to yourself. Then, search up the definitions for the feelings you think might be related.

Naming emotions is something that takes practice, and everyone comes to it differently. But the process of naming the emotion is nearly always useful, especially in diffusing that emotion. In putting focus towards trying to find the best/most accurate name for the feeling, you are proactively taking your focus away from the feeling, itself. You'll find yourself regulating as part of the process - like a beneficial by-product of doing the exercise.

Great way of thinking about it........using the process of focusing on labeling it to help in not obsessively focusing on the feeling itself. Thanks for that tip!!
 

Friday

Moderator
The standard emotional wheel has never worked for me... it baffled me as a kid, (long before any kind of trauma sent my emotional awareness deep underground, after fundamentally altering how I thought/felt, just to make things interesting :facepalm: ) because those are soooooo not the combos/ interactions/ results that exist in my own head/heart; and as an adult? The best use I have for the standard wheel is something to argue with. Because my arguments tell me more about what I’m feeling* than most things.

(( * So does paying attention to what kind of music I’m listening to! I have a running joke with my T that he needs to stop asking me HOW I am, and start asking me for WHAT I’m listening to! You want my emotional state? Look at my playlist.))

In the early years of my trying to understand an entirely new kind of normal? I sometimes/often named emotions by their results. Like I’m feeling very “burn the world down” or feeling “f*ck off” or feeling “go back to bed” or “lay here and stretch like a cat” (go back to bed and lay here stretching like a cat? 2 VERY different emotions. One is tied to avoidance/overwhelm/despair/pain/hurt the other? Lazy enjoyment/ contentment/bliss).

I’m not a fan of thinking/talking about my feeeeeelings :sick: but I could very MUCH wrap my head around actions. Both real ones, and imaginary/metaphorical ones. Burn the world down is a great example of that, because that can be real, or it can be metaphorical, and they’re 2 very different things. As is “Kill it! Kill it with fire!” :roflmao: See that laugh, right there? That’s a hint of how veeeeeery different that emotion is from Burn it to the ground. :shifty:(Real) and Burn the world down. :mad: (Metaphor).

The more I got used to parsing my ACTIONS? The better I got at breaking down the thoughts/feelings behind those actions.
 

flowerapple

Confident
I also have problems with it because I have a hard time labelling what I am feeling. But I find that if I eliminate the feelings I know aren’t what I am feeling, then it at least gives me somewhere to start and work from.

For example, I will know for sure that out of the 7 kinds emotions on the wheel, happiness is not what I’m feeling, and can eliminate it. So now it’s just 6 emotions left, and from there I try to narrow it down further. Sometimes I don’t know what the name of the feeling is, but I might know why it is that I feel it, so I would use that to try to narrow it down too. Maybe it’s a memory that’s causing the feeling, or maybe something happened, and I use that to help. Like say I’m remembering having my abortions, then I look at the second level of emotions and try pick the one(s) that would suit the memory and how I’m feeling. Most times I that remembering them makes me feel a combination of sad, disgusted, and fearful. I find that sometimes I can’t identify the main emotion like sad or fearful, but if I look at the feelings underneath it, it can help give me an idea. Because on the surface, I might just say that I feel bad, but then when I look below bad, I find that those feelings feel like they may not be correct. Likewise, I look at disgust, and think that’s not what I’m feeling, but when I look below it, I feel like disappointed, disapproving, and awful might match what I’m feeling somewhat. I don’t actually know if I’m correct in my labelling. But I feel that still there are times when I just feel like I’m on the right track because if I were to label the emotion I’m feeling because of the memories of my abortions as bad, I can look below it and realize that I’m not feeling tired, stressed, busy, or bored, therefore eliminating that category.

It’s not easy and it takes time and practice to get the hang of it, and sometimes even then I still find that I can’t name the emotion. But I most times I can at least get past the first level to determine that I am feeling sad or angry, even if I can’t be more specific.
 
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