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How are you feeling? What do you need?

Sensations, emotions and feelings are all traits we share as humans. They are complex, and multi-faceted experiences.

Sensation refers to the process in which information is taken and interpreted by the human brain with the assistance of sensory systems. Noticing our sensations support us to be connected with our bodies and the present moment as sensations can change rapidly.

Emotions are the bio-chemical experiences of our bodies when an event occur. These are chemicals released in response to our interpretation of a specific stimuli. It takes our brains about 1/4 second to identify the trigger, and about another 1/4 second to produce the chemicals that are released throughout our bodies. Emotions last for 6 seconds and form a feedback loop between our brains and our bodies.

Feelings are the interpretations that we give to emotions. Feelings alert us to how we feel and can be understood as mental experiences of body states. They are connected not only to emotions, but also our thoughts and our moods. Feelings also last longer than emotions and are typically judged as either pleasant or unpleasant experience.

In the practice of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) or Compassionate Communication, identifying our feelings and needs are core practices. In NVC, feelings arise out of unmet needs.

According to Marshall Rosenberg, the originator of Nonviolent Communication, asserts that there are nine major categories of basic human needs, which are often called the “universal human needs”:

  • Sustenance

  • Safety

  • Love

  • Understanding or empathy

  • Creativity

  • Recreation

  • Sense of belonging

  • Autonomy

  • Meaning

The rest of the needs are subsets or combinations of these basic needs. From the "What's Strong With You?" toolkit, we have the list of needs from The Center for Nonviolent Communication with a few additions form Peggy Smith.

list of needs

Feelings are interpretations. Knowing how to work with them, we can explore what is behind those interpretations.

  • What do they tell us about ourselves?

  • What are the emotions behind the feeling?

List of feelings when our needs are satisfied

List of feelings when our needs are not satisfied

Feelings are the bodily sensations that arise in you as a result of having interpreted a stimulus in a certain way. These are descriptions of what is going on inside of you. However, it is easy to fall prey to evaluations, judgments, and opinions hence we need to distinguish our feelings from our thoughts.

Check-in with yourself and recall if you use these sentence patterns:

  • I feel that.....

  • I feel as if.....

  • I feel you (I, she, he, they)...

  • I feel like....

We often use the word “feel” without actually expressing a feeling, i.e. “I feel like you don’t love me” is an expression of thought, not a feeling. It is important to use words that describe actual feelings rather than words that describe what we think others are doing.

According to Marshall Rosenberg, creator of Nonviolent Communication, faux/pseudo feelings are evaluative words that are often confused with feelings. Pseudo-feelings express an evaluation of someone else’s behavior. These are words that generally carry a message of wrongness or blame.

"...when you can differentiate between feelings and faux feelings, you can more accurately describe your own internal experience, which in turn allows you to more easily connect with others." - Marshall Rosenberg


  • Abandoned

  • Abused

  • Attacked

  • Belittled

  • Betrayed

  • Blamed

  • Boxed-in

  • Bullied

  • Cheated

  • Coerced

  • Co-opted

  • Cornered

  • Criticized

  • Diminished

  • Discounted

  • Disrespected

  • Distrusted

  • Harassed

  • Ignored

  • Insulted

  • Interrupted

  • Intimidated

  • Invalidated

  • Invisible

  • Isolated

  • Left out

  • Let down

  • Manipulated

  • Misunderstood

  • Neglected

  • Overworked

  • Patronized

  • Pressured

  • Provoked

  • Put down

  • Rejected

  • Taken for granted

  • Threatened

  • Tricked

  • Unappreciated

  • Unheard

  • Unseen

  • Unsupported

  • Unwanted

  • Used

  • Victimized

  • Violated

Feelings or Pseudo feelings


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