Life Coach Training – Lesson 12

Life Coach Training

Lesson 12

A Vocabulary of Feelings


There are many ways that human beings receive information, process experience, and express ourselves. In our culture most people live in their head.  They perceive the intellect as the only tool with which to navigate their life.  While the thinking mind is an important asset when it comes to making life choices, it is limited in its scope and leaves out vast terrains of guidance from other levels.  Holistic coaching draws upon all the resources within an individual, including the mind, but not limited to it.

Emotions offer gifts of guidance and important avenues of self-expression. There is no such thing as a “bad emotion.” You can assist your client to make healthy choices by helping him to connect more with his feelings so he can become more self-aware and learn from the messages his feelings are communicating.  If a client is primarily a thinker, recognizing and utilizing the feeling dimension of his world will create richer balance.

Self-expression is one of the most important goals of coaching.  A client out of touch with her feelings may not have a vocabulary to express herself.  When you assist a client to express herself more clearly and honestly, you have given her a tool that will carry her through much of life.

If a client gets lost in his story or wanders off into the corridor of his mind, simply ask, “How do you feel about that?”  or   “What is the strongest feeling you have about that situation?” or “What do you feel in the deepest part of you?”

If the client can express her feelings to you—especially those she has not expressed to herself or others, she has taken a significant step. If she is not in touch with her feelings or does not have the tools to express them, you can offer a vocabulary from which she can choose.  

Below is a list of feelings from which you might draw. Ask your client, “Are you feeling____________ about this, or is it more like ______________?”  In suggesting a feeling word you are not seeking to push the client in a direction, but simply offering a tool for self-expression.

Feeling words

Pleasant Feelings
understanding great playful calm
confident gay courageous peaceful
reliable joyous energetic at ease
easy lucky liberated comfortable
amazed fortunate optimistic pleased
free delighted provocative encouraged
sympathetic overjoyed impulsive clever
interested gleeful free surprised
satisfied thankful frisky content
receptive important animated quiet
accepting festive spirited certain
kind ecstatic thrilled relaxed
  satisfied wonderful serene
  glad   free and easy
  cheerful   bright
  sunny   blessed
  merry   reassured
loving concerned eager impulsive
considerate affected keen free
affectionate fascinated earnest sure
sensitive intrigued intent certain
tender absorbed anxious rebellious
devoted inquisitive inspired unique
attracted nosy determined dynamic
passionate snoopy excited tenacious
admiration engrossed enthusiastic hardy
warm curious bold secure
touched   brave  
sympathy   daring  
close   challenged  
loved   optimistic  
comforted   re-enforced  
drawn toward   confident  
Difficult/Unpleasant Feelings
irritated lousy upset incapable
enraged disappointed doubtful alone
hostile discouraged uncertain paralyzed
insulting ashamed indecisive fatigued
sore powerless perplexed useless
annoyed diminished embarrassed inferior
upset guilty hesitant vulnerable
hateful dissatisfied shy empty
unpleasant miserable stupefied forced
offensive detestable disillusioned hesitant
bitter repugnant unbelieving despair
aggressive despicable skeptical frustrated
resentful disgusting distrustful distressed
inflamed abominable misgiving woeful
provoked terrible lost pathetic
incensed in despair unsure tragic
infuriated sulky uneasy in a stew
cross bad pessimistic dominated
worked up a sense of loss tense  
insensitive fearful crushed tearful
dull terrified tormented sorrowful
nonchalant suspicious deprived pained
neutral anxious pained grief
reserved alarmed tortured anguish
weary panic dejected desolate
bored nervous rejected desperate
preoccupied scared injured pessimistic
cold worried offended unhappy
disinterested frightened afflicted lonely
lifeless timid aching grieved
  shaky victimized mournful
  restless heartbroken dismayed
  doubtful agonized  
  threatened appalled  
  cowardly humiliated  
  quaking wronged  
  menaced alienated  

List courtesy of  Richard Niolon, PhD

There are a lot of feeling words to choose from! I know a coach who printed a list of feeling words and offers it to her clients, inviting them to choose those words that express their feelings.  You can be creative in how you elicit expression of feelings from your clients.

Feelings are a powerful level to work at in coaching because they run deeper than the intellect.  (Emotion =  E-motion:  energy in motion. Where there is energy there is life.) Regardless of how much we think, feelings run our lives more than our thoughts. You usually can’t go wrong if you keep directing your client to come back to an honest expression of  feelings.

It is also possible to overindulge the feeling level and miss out on the value of reason.  Some clients are so wrapped up or even lost in their feelings that they could use a good dose of intellect. Tune in to each client to assess where she is at and help her find healthy balance. My mentor use to say, “The mind alone is a tyrant. The heart alone is chaotic. The marriage of the two is mastery.”



1. List three primary feelings that describe your experience at the moment:



2.  List three primary feelings that are or have been undercurrents in your life:



3. Do you navigate your world primarily through your intellect or through your feelings?



4. Are your mind and feelings in a harmonious balance?



     If not, how might you create a more harmonious balance?.




I use my feelings as keys to greater awareness of myself and my life.

I guide my coaching clients to use their feelings

as keys to greater awareness.  

The material in this lesson © by Alan Cohen is proprietary for the education of students enrolled in
Life Coach Training Program by the Foundation for Holistic Life Coaching.
Using for any other purpose without permission is strictly prohibited.