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How Do You Feel? A Simple Guide To Feeling Literacy


Paint bottles in various colors

Talking about feelings can at times feel like entering a dark threatening cavern filled with fear, possibly even bordering on panic. Growing up, this is not an area that most of us were taught to understand or communicate, and therefore can feel like a foreign language.


There are basically only four core feelings:

  1. Happy

  2. Sad

  3. Anger

  4. Fear

What? How could it be with all the feelings that are often listed or talked about in the world there are only four? These are all called Core Feelings meaning the expansive list of feelings can be distilled down to one of these four.


Frustration, for example, can be basically translated to Anger.

Feeling lonely? That's often related to Sadness.

Ecstatic? Happiness on steroids.


I like to refer to these as the Four Core Feelings and all other descriptors as Close Cousins.

As our feeling literacy grows, it becomes easier and easier to grow our emotional sophistication.


Many people were not raised to discuss feelings and often when asked how they feel will say "I don't know". They notice they are feeling something, but are unable to express it easily.

The four core feelings are a great place to begin.


Begin to work with these four feelings and notice where the sensation of the feeling exists

in your body. As you grow in recognizing the sensation and connect it to a feeling, you will grow in your ability to communicate in greater detail about how you are feeling.

Start right this minute... which of the four core feelings are you experiencing?