I don’t know how to feel

Is there something wrong with me? Our elder has some reassuring news for a letter writer: You can identify more emotions than you might realize. Here’s a test that will help.


Dear EWC

Hello. I am 14 years old and I don’t know how to feel. It’s not like I feel numb all the time, like I feel feelings all the time. I feel angry, happy, and sad but most of the time when I am sad I am sad over the fact that I can’t feel but I know that I can so why am I sad over something that I can do? Let me give you an example: So today I was reading a romance comic, and I was really happy when one of the characters realized his feelings for the other one, but then I just fell really jealous of him because he could feel all those things he was feeling and I started crying over that but then I asked myself why am I crying over the fact that I can’t feel, like I am crying right now so do know how to feel. Why should I be sad over something that isn’t happening then? I have no idea what is happening to me right now or if there is something wrong with me and I think I can use some help. Thank you


Grandpa-Matt replies

There is nothing wrong with you! It could just be a misunderstanding about emotions and moods. I believe that emotions are merely messengers from our unconscious, letting us know how to act in response to our experience at any given moment. For example, if we see a magic trick, we may feel mystified and surprised for a moment. We might experience happiness as a result. But, if we had seen the trick before, the memory could take away the surprise, and the feeling we get might give us a reaction of disappointment and saying, “No big deal.”

I think that everything that we experience is either an emotion or a feeling. Your problem is that you haven’t identified what has been happening. Once we give a name to our experience, then it will make sense. Let me point out to you some emotions you say you can’t identify, but still felt. You said you felt numb, jealous, sad, angry, and happy.

Let’s take a short test. Here is a list of some (but not all) feelings and emotions that we folks experience in life. When you think about each word, identify the ones that you have felt at some time in your life. Here they are: Enjoyment, happiness, love, relief, contentment, amusement, joy, pride, excitement, peace, satisfaction, compassion, acceptance, confident, courageous, exuberant, enthusiasm, flexible, forgiving, freedom, generous, grateful, harmony, patience, peaceful, persistent, power, strength, trusting, serene, vulnerable, fearful, worried, stress, lonely, heartbroken, gloomy, disappointed, hopeless, grieved, unhappy, lost, troubled, resigned, miserable, disgust, doubtful, nervous, anxious, terrified, panicked, horrified, desperate, confused, stressed, annoyed, frustrated, peeved, contrary, bitter, infuriated, irritated, mad, cheated, vengeful, insulted, dislike, revulsion, loathing, disapproving, offended, horrified, uncomfortable, nauseous, disturbed, withdrawal, aversion, anger, helpless, boredom, shame, doubt, envy, frustration, guilt, contempt, irritation, anxiety, powerless, embarrassment, hurt, despair, sadness, agitation, tension, shock, and agitation.


I wouldn’t be surprised that you could identify many more feelings than you realized. There were 97 of them if you were curious (and 98 if you add the feeling curious). I guess that you know how to feel, but haven’t identified many of them for yourself. Like an actor working with a director, pick a word, then demonstrate the feeling (with your voice or body) as if you are on stage. You don’t require an audience to practice this ability, as it is only for your understanding. Test: now make a face showing your “frustration” while looking in the mirror!


The Eskimo people have to live and work in a climate with extensive snow conditions; they have many words for snow so they can communicate better with each other. We have many words for feelings and emotions to help us understand and communicate what is going on inside ourselves.

We are all here to learn and grow. Don’t sell yourself short! You can easily expand your vocabulary, wisdom, and abilities. How do you feel about that (another test)?

Please write back and let me know how this is working for you. 

Article #: 465210

Category: Other

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