Why Don’t I Know What I’m Feeling?

How are you feeling right now?

Not sure? You’re not alone. Though it might seem almost unbelievable that some people don’t know what they’re feeling, emotion identification is actually a skill that many struggle with. Understanding possible underlying reasons can shed light on this common challenge.

Why we feel

  • Societal Conditioning: From a young age, we’re often taught to suppress or downplay emotions deemed “negative” or “unacceptable” by societal standards. This conditioning can lead to a disconnect from our emotional experiences, making it challenging to recognize and articulate what we’re feeling.
  • Fast-Paced Lifestyle: The fast-paced nature of modern life leaves little room for introspection. Constant multitasking and external stimuli can make it difficult to pause and tune into our emotions.
  • Past Trauma or Wounds: Unresolved emotional wounds or past traumas can cloud our ability to accurately identify our feelings. These unprocessed emotions may linger beneath the surface, distorting our perceptions and coloring our present experiences.
  • Disconnected from Bodily Sensations: Emotions often manifest as bodily sensations, yet many of us are disconnected from our bodies and unaware of the signals they’re sending us. Tuning into these bodily sensations can be crucial in identifying and understanding our emotions more fully.

Feeling Skills

But just like any skill, emotion identification can be practiced. Here are some steps you can take to better understand yourself and your feelings: 

  • Practice Mindfulness: Set aside time each day for mindfulness meditation or simply tuning into your present moment experience. Pay attention to bodily sensations, thoughts, and emotions without judgment.
  • Journaling and notes: Keep a journal or even a note on your phone where you can record your thoughts and feelings. Reflecting on your experiences can help you become more aware of your emotional landscape.
  • Use Feeling Words: Expand your emotional vocabulary by familiarizing yourself with a wide range of feeling words. When you notice a shift in your emotional state, try to label it with an appropriate feeling word.
  • Practice Somatic Awareness: Tune into your body to gain insight into your emotional experiences. Notice any tension, discomfort, or other physical sensations that are there, and locate where in your body you feel them. Feelings begin as physiological sensations, so even if you can’t comprehend a feeling, it’s in your body somewhere!

And last, consider seeking support from a therapist. They can provide guidance and support in exploring how you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, how to interpret the feelings, and how you can communicate about your feelings with the important people in your life.