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5 Ways to Know Your Feelings Better

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
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Before you read on, take a moment to pause. Close your eyes if you want to, and take a couple of calm breaths. Then ask yourself — how are you feeling right now?

Think of one-word answers that describe how you feel.

Notice what words come to mind. Does one feeling stand out? Or are there a few? You might even have opposite feelings at the same time. For example, excited and nervous. That's normal.

Just notice the emotions you feel at the moment. There's no right or wrong answer.

Doing this is a simple way to be aware of your emotions.

Sometimes it's easy to be aware of your emotions. Maybe there's one feeling that's strong and obvious to you. Other times, you might not pay much attention to how you feel. But your emotions are there. And they're all normal.

Being more aware of your emotions is a skill that can help you:

  • know yourself better
  • feel better about things and cope better
  • be less self-critical
  • pause instead of act on difficult emotions
  • get along better with others

Here are five ways to practice being more aware of your emotions:

  1. Notice and name your feelings. To start, just notice how you feel as things happen. Say the name of the feeling to yourself. You might feel proud when something goes well. Or disappointed if you don't do well on a test. You might feel relaxed when sitting with friends at lunch. Or nervous before a test.
  2. Track one emotion. Pick one emotion — like feeling glad. Track it all day. Notice how often you feel it. Maybe you're glad when something good happens. Or glad when a friend shows up. Maybe you're glad when someone lends you a hand or says a kind word. Or glad just because it's Friday. Every time you feel glad, make a mental note to yourself or write it down. Is the feeling mild, medium, or strong?
  3. Learn new words for feelings. How many feeling words can you name? Try to think of even more. How many words are there for angry? For example, you might be annoyed, upset, or mad. Irate, fuming, or outraged.
  4. Keep a feelings journal. Take a few minutes each day to write about how you feel and why. Writing about your feelings helps you get to know them better. Make art, write poetry, or compose music to express an emotion you feel.
  5. Notice feelings in art, songs, and movies. Focus on what the artist did to show those feelings. How do you feel in response?

Take time to get to know your emotions better. Just notice how you feel. Accept how you feel without judging yourself. Show yourself some kindness.

Remind yourself that all your emotions are normal. But how you act on emotions matters a lot. When you know your emotions, you're better able to make wise choices about how to act — no matter what you're feeling.

If you have emotions that feel difficult or overwhelming, get support. An adult you trust can help you talk through any tough feelings you're dealing with.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: August 2021