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Naming Your Emotions

Focusing is a path of self-inquiry that welcomes nuanced experiences that we often overlook. We gently bring awareness into our bodies, which is where feelings and sensations reside. We allow and befriend whatever we are experiencing in a way that permits the stuck places to loosen …moving us toward greater peace, freedom, and wisdom."

~ John Amodeo, PhD

An Emotional Awareness Journal Process

Listening to your body for 15 minutes a day can help you to become friendly with your emotions. I share a journaling method to support you to recognize and name your emotions. Sit quietly with your journal on your lap. Close your eyes. When images, words, and body senses arise, record them in your journal.

1. Clearing a Space

Take a moment just to relax. Pay attention inwardly, in your body. See what comes there when you ask, "How is my life going? What is the main thing for me right now?" Sense within your body and let the answers come slowly.

When some concern comes or a bodily tightness or pain arises, do not go right inside of it. Stand back from your problem, say "Yes, that’s there. I can feel that...there." Let there be a little space between you and what is troubling you.

Then, ask what else you feel. Wait again, and sense. Usually, there are several things happening in our emotional world at one time. Write down all that you sense in your body, such as, "I also feel tension in my throat, "flutteriness" in my heart, and upset in my stomach."

2. Felt Sense

Select one discomfort or problem to focus on from what came. Do not go inside of your problem. Stand back from it and witness it in a friendly way.

There will be many parts to that one thing you are thinking about – too many to sort out cognitively. But you can feel all of these things together on an emotional level.

Pay attention to where you feel the most major concern in your body, and sense what the entire problem feels like. Let yourself feel the unclear sense of all of that.

3. Handle (Naming Your Felt Sense)

What is the quality of this unclear felt sense? Let a word, a phrase, or an image come up from the felt sense itself. It might be a descriptive word, like "tight, sticky, scary, stuck, heavy, jumpy," or it might be a phrase. An image or a memory might come to mind instead. Stay with the quality of the felt sense until something fits it just right.

Try to avoid simple labels such as "sad, angry, mad." Keep in mind that your inner felt sense might offer up a much more creative name or an image. Allow the descriptive process to be unusual if it wants to be. Your felt sense descriptions need not make logical sense.

4. Resonating (Checking if the Description Fits)

Go back and forth between the bodily felt sense and the word (phrase, or image). Check how they resonate with each other. See if there is a little body signal that lets you know there is a fit. Hold the felt sense in your body and the word/phrase/image in your mind at the same time.

Let the felt sense change if it wants to. Also, play with the word or picture to see if it wants to change. Allow your body feeling, word and/or inner picture change until they capture the quality of the felt sense just right.

5. Asking (Inquiring More Deeply)

Now ask: what is it, about this whole problem, that makes this quality so...what which you have just named or pictured? Make sure the quality is sensed again, freshly, vividly (not just remembered from before).

Feel into your body and ask,"What makes the whole problem so ______(tight, sticky, stuck etc?)"If you get a quick answer without an inner body shift, just let that kind of answer go by. Return your attention to your body and freshly find the felt sense again.

Then ask it again. Be with the felt sense until you feel a slight "give" or release in your body. This feeling of release usually indicates that a new insight or understanding has arisen.

6. Receiving

Receive whatever intuitively comes (or does not come) in a friendly way. Stay with this sense of inner relief for a while, even if it is only a slight release. Whatever comes, this is only one shift; there will be others. Linger for a few moments in this inner shift.

You may not always feel a body shift but may notice you simply feel emotionally better from paying attention to yourself. The main aim is to spend time sensing into an unclear holistic body sense for a dedicated period of time.

Your inner world offers an endless parade of spontaneous words, images, colours, sounds, tones and textures to reflect upon. Simply naming these inner felt senses invites the rich dawning of emotional awareness. Emotional healing happens when we pay loving and curious attention to our inner landscape.

For more information on Focusing Psychotherapy see

With love,


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