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Identifying feelings for recovery

Posted Apr 21 2011 12:00am

Having trouble connecting to your feelings? Do you find it difficult to identify what you feel? Maybe you know that you are upset, but you can't say why - is it anger, fear, or anxiety?

If so, you are not alone. Studies and clinical data show that people with eating disorders often have difficulty identifying and expressing their feelings. Sometimes it's for fear of the feelings being too intense of unmanageable. Sometimes it's because a person is simply not practiced in being able to identify feelings. Some people have become so used to suppressing or ignoring or denying their own feelings that they have lost touch with how to label and express them. Still for others, the inability to express and identify emotions is some strong that it meets the criteria for a condition called Alexithymia , a symptom seen in up to 40-nearly 70% of all eating disorder patients. Alexithymia is not the same thing as denying emotions, simply an inability to find the right words to describe them.

If you have difficulty identifying or expressing your emotions, or if you frequently have the sense that you can't put your finger on what it is that you are experiencing or a sensation that you are having, try using a list of feeling words to help you.

Feeling words can help to prompt a person to be better able to label their emotions or describe their physical sensations that may in fact be the result of emotions they are experiencing but cannot identify.

For some sample lists, here is a useful website, as well as a download-able PDF...

Feeling words:

PDF of feeling words:

For more information about Alexithymia, see my book, 100 Questions and Answers about Anorexia Nervosa


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