Section 9, Topic 5

Expressing Feelings

Ravi Resck 28 de July de 2021
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The first part of the CNV process was learning to express separate observations from assessments. Now we go to the second pillar of the process where we will explore the nuances of feelings and how we can identify and explore them in a compassionate way.

One of the questions that marked me when I discovered non-violent communication was realizing that we don't really have the emotional vocabulary to express our feelings and needs.

And we often use the verb to feel without expressing any feelings in practice.

For example, "I feel like I didn't do well in the test" is a phrase that does not express any feeling. We could substitute the word “I feel” for I believe, I think or I think to clarify this confusion.

Feelings vs. No Feelings

Once again taken from Rosenberg's book, we have here a series of examples that elucidate us on how to express our feelings more clearly.

In general, feelings are not being clearly expressed when the word to feel is followed by:

A. Terms like that, how, as if:

"I feel what you should know that better than anyone ”
“I feel how a failure ”
"I feel how if you were living with a wall ”

B. Word what followed by details like me, him, Is it over there, them, this, etc:

"I feel that I I have to be constantly available ”
"I feel that this it's useless"

C. Word what followed by names or words that refer to people:

"I feel that Lucia has been very responsible ”
"I feel that my boss is manipulating me ”

It is not necessary to use the word to feel when we are expressing a feeling. We can simply say "I am upset" instead of "I am upset".

Distinguish feelings from what we think we are

At CNV we make a distinction between words that express feelings and those that describe what we think we are.

A description of what we think we are would be something like "I feel like I'm a bad pianist".
An expression of the feelings about this would be: “I am disappointed myself as a pianist ”. Or ”I feel impatient as to my progress on the instrument ”. Or “I feel frustrated with my skills on the instrument ”.

So we can clearly identify which are the feelings behind what we think about ourselves.

Distinguish what we feel from what we think others think

Another absolutely important distinction is what we really feel and what we think others are thinking of us.

Here are some examples that demonstrate this relationship:

A. “I feel insignificant for the people I work with ”.

The insignificant word here does not represent a feeling but a thought about how people are evaluating me within my work environment. The feeling here would be “I feel sad”, “I feel discouraged” or something like that.

B. “I feel Misunderstood. ”
This is a very common expression in our daily lives. Again, this expression speaks much more about what we think others think of us than what we are really feeling. I may be feeling anxious or bored, but I can't say whether people are understanding me or not.

C. “I feel ignored.”
Once again we have an expression of how we think other people are reacting to our actions. We can feel hurt, for example, when we feel that we are not being heard. But when we say that we feel ignored, we are saying that the people around us are ignoring us.

Words like ignored, misunderstood, criticized and others tend to express how we think others are reacting and not how we are really feeling. Here is a list that shows other words that can be used in this way:

IntimidatedHeld down

Building a vocabulary for feelings

When we want to express what we feel it can be very useful to express clearly what is going on inside our emotional body through clear words instead of vague terms. For this, it is important to remember what those words are that are sometimes replaced by inaccurate terms in our daily lives.

Here is a list of words that show how you are likely to feel when your needs are being met.

Make yourself comfortableAbsorbedGratefulhappy
Cheered upAstonishedAvidGood-natured
Radiantchilled outResplendentInvigorated

Here is a list of words that show how you are likely to feel when your needs are not being met.

ApprehensiveSorryCreeped outScared
TormentedAustereangryTired out
CarefreeEmbarrassedIn troubleDisgusted
SegregatedNot funnySensitiveLonely
AstonishedSadFearfulKeyed up


In the same way as we did above the exercise of distinguishing observations from evaluations, here we will do with feelings. The goal here is to identify phrases that express feelings clearly and phrases that express things that we think other people feel about us.

1. I don't think you love me.

2. I am sad because you are leaving.

3. I get scared when you say that.

4. When you don't greet me, I feel neglected.

5. I'm glad you can come.

6. You are disgusting.

7. I feel like hitting you.

8. I feel misunderstood.

9. I feel good about what you did for me.

10. I have no value.


1. Expresses something that we think the other person feels about us and not a feeling.

2. Feeling expressed clearly.

3. Feeling clearly expressed.

4. Neglected is not a feeling from the perspective of CNV.

5. Feeling clearly expressed.

6. Disgusting it is not a feeling from the perspective of CNV.

7. Feel like hitting someone it is not a feeling from the perspective of CNV.

8. Misunderstood it is not a feeling from the perspective of CNV.

9. It is a feeling, but the word well is very vague and could be replaced by something more specific such as relieved, gratified, or stimulated for example.

10. I have no value it is not a feeling from the perspective of CNV.