Sensation Vocabulary 101: Use These Words to Process Your Emotions

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Processing your emotions is a way to stay in control of your behavior and not act out in the heat of the moment. It is also a great tool to use when you want to change what you think or believe. Processing the pain you feel can often help release the grip of the initial thought causing the pain in the first place. But how exactly do you do it?

The way I describe processing an emotion is allowing it to vibrate through your body without trying to make it go away. The problem is that you are designed to make it go away, especially if it’s an uncomfortable emotion. We do this by acting out what the emotion is trying to make us do. It provides us with temporary relief but does little to create awesome results in the long run.

So a trick you can use to “combat” your programming and keep your emotion in your body long enough for it to process all the way through is by describing it to yourself. Narrating the vibration and naming in detail what the sensations feel like.

Why does it work?

Because it’s impossible to experience and describe something in great detail while simultaneously trying to make it go away. The two just don’t go together. So as long as your observing it and try to put words to it, you’re literally allowing it to stick around. Which is a good thing!

So today, I want to offer you a little vocabulary boost that will help you put words to the sensations that you are experiencing. The better you get at describing what you feel and the more precise you try to be, the better you are going to get at processing as well.

NOTE: Notice how all of these words describe bodily sensations and not “I’m drowning” or “Someone is standing on my chest”… That is your brain’s way of making sense of the sensations you’re feeling. Your brain is trying to describe how it feels using imagery. Do your best to avoid being in your head during this exercise and stick to describing exactly how it feels physically in your body.


  • Flat
  • Rough
  • Tight
  • Firm
  • Dull
  • Tender
  • Thin
  • Thick
  • Loose
  • Fuzzy
  • Elastic
  • Soft
  • Smooth
  • Bumpy
  • Spikey
  • Irregular
  • Hard
  • Stiff


  • Cold
  • Icey
  • Shivery
  • Frozen
  • Clammy
  • Cozy
  • Chilly
  • Neutral
  • Damp
  • Hot
  • Airy
  • Breezy
  • Warm
  • Flushed
  • Burning


  • Heavy
  • Weighty
  • Mightly
  • Pressured
  • Constricted
  • Light
  • Dense
  • Gentle
  • Easeful
  • Spacious
  • Airy


  • Large
  • Big
  • Voluminous
  • All-consuming
  • Medium
  • Small
  • Little
  • Round
  • Irregular
  • Spikey
  • Edgy
  • Sharp
  • Bubbly
  • Wavy


  • Sharp
  • Intense
  • Pounding
  • Crampy
  • Electric
  • Numb
  • Neutral
  • Achy
  • Prickly
  • Burning
  • Soft
  • Bloated
  • Faint
  • Tolerable
  • Breathless


  • Tingly
  • Spasming
  • Pounding
  • Shaky
  • Tense
  • Twitchy
  • Neutral
  • Knotted
  • Shuddering
  • Quivering
  • Stretchy
  • Smooth
  • Faint
  • Fluttering
  • Pulsating
  • Dropping
  • Vacuum
  • Growing


  • Fast
  • Quick
  • Strong
  • Intense
  • Rapid
  • Rhythmic
  • Jarring
  • Rolling
  • Sinking
  • Slow
  • Smooth
  • Weak
  • Gradual

It is also helpful to name the emotion you are processing. If you know what emotion it is, you make sure you don’t unknowingly transfer over to some other emotion in the middle of it and then get yourself confused.

This wheel of emotions is a great tool to use to define exactly what it is that you are feeling in that moment and what emotion it is that you are processing.

xo Katrin

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