How we came up with our Feeling List and Categories

The first version of Feeling Magnets (which I developed for myself, not knowing this would become something that others would want), had almost 500 Feelings without any categories. I had pulled these words together from different Feeling lists I found online or from courses I had taken. I quickly realized that it there were way too many words and when I later tested it with different people noticed that they found the selection of words to be overwhelming. So we reduced the number of words, first removing the ones that might be difficult for people to understand, then those that were already similar to another word, etc. We wanted to be sure that the Feelings in the box covered the full spectrum of Emotions we feel, without putting people off. To do this we looked at categories for Emotions by various Psychologists and Emotion Researchers to make sure that we covered all bases. What we found was that most of the groupings are very heavy on the “uncomfortable” feelings, and the “comfortable” or “positive” emotions, seemed to be sprinkled in a bit like an afterthought. This is likely because “positive” emotions have only been studied more closely in the last 10-15 years as the field of Positive Psychology* has emerged, but we felt strongly that this tool was about self-awareness, which includes all of our Feelings, and not only about highlighting the “unpleasant” ones. Ultimately, we didn’t find a list that we felt comfortable with and that met our criteria. We wanted to have a list of Feelings that…

  • Covers the full spectrum of Emotions we feel (weak and strong, “pleasant” and “unpleasant”) in as few words as possible
  • Has words that are commonly known
  • Is equally balanced between the “comfortable” and “uncomfortable” Feelings
So we made our own list, which has 94 Feelings split into ten categories (five “uncomfortable” and five “comfortable”). You can find the list here.

* Whereas traditional Psychology has focused on getting people from -10 to zero, Positive Psychology focuses on how to get people from a zero to a +10, where people are thriving and living fulfilling lives. One of the key pillars of Positive Psychology is “Positive” Emotions, which are key to our health, creativity, ability to learn, connect with others and much more.


Why we grouped the Feelings into Categories

There is immense power in simply finding the right words to describe how we feel. On top of this, as we got deeper into the research on Emotions we realized that there were key messages in each Emotion and that these were very similar for certain Feelings. We grouped the similar Feelings into categories to help people navigate and understand their Emotions more easily. Having feelings grouped into categories is helpful in two ways:

  • When we identify how we feel, sometimes we know roughly which category it fits into. We can then take a closer look at the Feelings within that category to find more specific words within it. This allows us to experience a greater relief from specifically identifying our Emotions and also to take into consideration the nuances between the different words, which may have an impact on how we choose to act on our Emotions.
  • We may know we are feeling a specific Emotion, but not know which category it fits into. Finding the category, it belongs into, helps us to better understand why that Feeling has showed up and how we can best respond to it.

The Feeling Magnets Feelings are grouped into ten categories, which are easily identifiable by the colors of the words.


Why magnets?

Emotions are within us and changing all the time. They come and go like waves when we let them flow through us naturally. Part of having a healthy relationship with our emotions is being able to recognize them and name them. Magnets make it easy to reflect these flowing feelings. It is simple to pick out what we are feeling and then put it away when we no longer feel it. This is also symbolic for the fact that our feelings are not permanent, they change with time and depending on what is going on in our lives. Magnets give us the flexibility to reflect those changes.

Do Feeling Magnets have special powers?

No, they are simple magnets like the ones for your fridge. What makes them powerful is using them to help you figure out how you really feel. This gives you a new level of awareness which allows you to then navigate through your feelings and life like a pro.

Are Feeling Magnets like Poetry Magnets?

No, Feeling Magnets don’t make sentences. Each magnet has a feeling on it and they are coloured by category to help you understand your emotions. The Feeling Magnets act as prompts to help you figure out how you are feeling. They come with a Feeling Magnets Club series and a printed guide, which helps you identify and understand what you are feeling, what it means and how to navigate these feelings.

What are Feeling Magnets?

Feeling Magnets are a tool to help people understand their emotions. Literally it is a box of magnets where each magnet has an emotion on it. They come with a guide that explains how you can understand your emotions and tap into the information they carry.

Why Feeling Magnets?

We all have feelings. All the time. Yet we generally don’t learn much about them. We go through life trying to feel good, avoiding unpleasant feelings at all costs without really understanding why we have feelings and what they might be good for. Feeling Magnets is here to fill that gap so we can have healthy relationships with our feelings.

Why should I use Feeling Magnets?

Feeling Magnets are designed to help us train our emotional awareness. Simply put: to know what we are feeling and why. They give us a simple way to express our feelings and the knowledge we need to be able to understand the feelings and know what to do with them. When we become more skilled at this, all emotions become easier, more manageable and, in turn, so does life.

How do I know if Feeling Magnets would be good for me?

If you sometimes feel stuck, confused, struggle to make decisions, feel a fog on the brain or don’t understand what is going on inside you then training your emotional awareness can help you. Feeling Magnets is one way to train that. Feeling Magnets can also be helpful if you are looking to get to know yourself better, or as a communication tool to use with others (in families, couples, teams, etc.).

How do Feeling Magnets help me?

Feeling Magnets help you to find the words to describe what you feel and then to understand what you are feeling and why. This allows you to feel comfortable with whatever you are feeling, to know what it is there to tell you and to have a healthy relationship with your feelings.

How do I use Feeling Magnets?

There are many ways to use Feeling Magnets. The most basic way includes:

Name: You open the box and ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now?”. Then you select the feelings that feel right at that moment and stick them on the inside of the box, on your fridge or anything else magnetic.

Accept: You let the feelings that you picked out sink in and you fully accept, embrace and feel the emotions. You can even say to yourself, “I am feeling… and it’s OK for me to feel this way.”

Act: Once you have accepted your emotion, you can begin to understand what has triggered it, what it might be there to tell you and with this newfound knowledge you can then make a conscious decision as to how you want to act in response to the emotions. Sometimes this means changing our thoughts, sometimes it means changing something in our situation and sometimes is means letting the wave pass by. Then you Make this a habit.

What is the point of naming my feelings?

Research has shown that naming feelings makes them less powerful: Name it to tame it. Also we know that it’s much easier to understand something or deal with something if we know what we are dealing with. This is just the starting point.

Don’t my feelings get stronger when I pay attention to them?

Studies with fMRI scanners show that identifying ‘negative’ or uncomfortable emotions weakens them. At the same time, naming our positive emotions brings them to the forefront of our minds and helps us to savour and appreciate them so they last longer (mindfulness).

I know what I am feeling, what now?

Once you know what you are feeling, often you already feel better (because it’s not unknown anymore and we tend to feel more comfortable with things that we can explain). You then need to accept the feeling so you can then go a step further to understand what the feeling is there for and what to do with it.

What do you mean with a ‘healthy relationship with feelings’?

If we ignore our feelings, suppress them by keeping super busy, drinking, eating, shopping… then we don’t have a healthy relationship with our feelings. We don’t think we need to explain why that’s not healthy, do we? A healthy relationship with our emotions means we know what we are feeling, we can accept what we are feeling, we understand it and know how to navigate through it. We are acknowledging the emotions, valuing the information that they bring us and responding to them in the most effective way. This is also the foundation for Emotional Intelligence.