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Feelings word list as a tool for Emotional Intelligence

One of the challenges in working with feelings and learning “emotional intelligence” is learning “vocabulary”. With the help of a larger number of words for feelings, we can describe emotions in a more differentiated way. These lists help to lay a foundation for a differentiated awareness of our “emotional world”. When we have the words to  express our feelings, we can communicate more empathically.

Feelings word list for emotional intelligence

These feelings word lists are based on Nonviolent Communication (NVC) according to Marshall Rosenberg. If you haven’t heard of NVC, you can watch Marshall himself explain some basics here. The lists are categorized into:

  • Pleasant (“positive”) feeling words, which we can perceive when our needs are met.
  • Unpleasant (“negative”) feeling words that we can perceive when our needs are not met.
  • “Unreal” feeling words including those we often use as “feelings” in everyday life, but are not “real” feelings. Rather, they contain a thought or an evaluation, or assign responsibility for a feeling to others.


1. Rosenberg, M. (2016). Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Available at

Feelings Word List – structured in three categories

Pleasant Feelings
(When feelings are met)

– Calmness – 

peaceful, quiet, rested, secure, relaxed, grounded, balanced, recovered, calm

– Gratitude –

grateful, blessed, worry-free, deeply moved, hopeful, liberated

Love –

touched, connected, alive, passionate

Happiness – 

overjoyed, happy, convivial, glad, bright, elated, fun-loving, satisfied, blissful, joyful, fulfilled, free

Curiousness –

interested, surprised, inquisitive, amazed, attentive, deepened, fascinated, motivated, excited, clear, wide awake, present

Strength –

confident, independent, powerful, dynamic, carefree, stable, consolidated, brave, strong

Joy –

delighted vivid, inspired, enthusiastic, peppy, motivated, easy, optimistic, light-hearted, loose, inspired

Enthusiasm –

excited, hilarious, energized, ecstatic, jubilant, euphoric, enraptured, turned up, exuberant

Unpleasant Feelings
(When feelings are not met)

– Lonliness – 

alone, lonely

– Shame – 

timid, embarrassed, shy, insecure

– Fear – 

anxious, troubled, fearful, terrified

– Fright –

horrified, petrified, shocked, shaken

– Guilt – 

guilty, obligated, responsible

– Disgust –

repelled, disgust, nauseated

– Helplessness – 

powerless, empty, despondent, desperate, hopeless, fragile, paralysed, inert, lifeless

– Indifference –

indifferent, tired, weak, listless, numb, depressed, melancholic, impassive

– Sadness – 

upset pathetic, grouchy, moody, miserable, sad, unhappy, uncomfortable, gloomy, lousy

– Frustration – 

grumpy, tense, disillusioned, restless, stressed, uneasy, torn, bitter, frustrated

– Anger –

angry, displeased, incensed, feisty, aggressive, raging, agitated, furious, enraged

Unreal/Mental Feelings/ Pseudo-feelings

– Poor –

stupid, inadequate, incompetent, insignificant, inappropriate, unimportant, unworthy, dirty

 – Rejection –

repelled, devalued, rejected, dropped, used, less valued, deceived, let down, isolated, ridiculed, left behind, misunderstood, not accepted, not taken seriously, unappreciated, unsupported, unheeded, undesirable, unheard, unloved, unseen, unintentional, unrespected, abandoned, denied, neglected

– Accusation –

exploited, pressed, threatened, controlled, molested, offended, lied to, mothered, used, accused, protected (failed), evaporated, cowed, intimidated, locked, constrained, reduced, deceived, ignored, mislead, sidelined, provoked, tricked, revised, overused, disregarded, scammed, adopted

– Attack –

defeated, robbed, assailed, cheated, dominated, muffled, forced, ripped out, fooled, lured in to the trap, trampled, manipulated, disregarded, abused, cut down, put under pressure, repressed, misunderstood, run over , overwhelmed, fucked over, hated


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