How strong is your emotional vocabulary?
Karla McLaren, M.Ed.
The more I talk to people about emotions, the more I realize how small our emotional vocabulary tends to be. People can get by with just a few words for their emotions, such as fine, unhappy, bummed, or stressed.
Having a larger vocabulary — for anything — makes you more articulate and more able to express subtle ideas. Having more words gives your brain more data, and helps your senses become more acute. Having more words can make you smarter, faster, and more skilled!
This tiny vocabulary is a problem, because descriptive words help us understand ourselves and the world around us. If we don’t have enough names for our emotions, it’s hard to get a handle on what we’re feeling when an emotion arises.
Cognitive psychologists have been finding that having a more precise vocabulary (for instance, having specific names for light blues and dark blues, as Russian speakers do) tends to make people quicker at identifying subtle differences. Basically, if you know more names for things, you can actually see, hear, or feel more than people whose vocabularies are smaller.
We’ve all seen that having a larger vocabulary makes us more articulate and more able to express subtle ideas; what’s interesting is that having a large vocabulary also helps you identify things more quickly. Having more words gives your brain more data, and helps your senses become more acute. Having more words can make you smarter, faster, and more skilled.
This can be immensely helpful where emotion are concerned! The sooner you know what you’re feeling, the quicker you can take effective emotional action.
I and many of my readers from all over the world (thank you!) created the following emotional vocabulary list for seven different categories of emotions in three distinct levels of intensity (Soft, Medium [or Mood State], and Intense) so that you can become smarter, quicker, and more articulate with your emotions. Excellent!
This free list is my gift to you, but it’s also a kind of a message in a bottle; I’d love to live in a world where people understood their emotions, knew how to work with them, and knew how to support emotional awareness in others. Wouldn’t that be brilliant?
As you work to develop and strengthen your emotional awareness, this vocabulary list can give your brain more data to work with. With more emotional vocabulary, you can become more emotionally precise, more aware, and more skilled. Knowing what you feel is one of the first steps toward accessing and developing your innate emotional genius.
Thank you for bringing more emotional awareness into our waiting world!