Finding the right word

When I wake up in the morning, I have a ritual that motivates me to get out of bed. The first thing I do is to read sacred writings. I do this to clear away some of the cobwebs, and also to give me a new direction to move my thoughts. The second thing I do is a guided meditation. I have been using the app for some years now. The daily calm gets me going and gives my brain time to process stuff in the background. The third thing I do is watch a TED talk.

This last one has been giving me food for thought as well as conversation topics. The one I watched the other day was on language and words. Generally, when I watch these talks, I then look up any books that the presenter wrote, any blogs they created, or website to increase my knowledge of what their subject. When I looked up the presenter’s name, I found a fantastic blog, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

The author, John Koenig, takes emotions or feelings that we have no words for and creates a word to describe the feelings or emotions. Reading through the list was eye-opening. I found words that described things that I felt but didn’t realize there were no words that represented those feelings; this then got me to thinking about words in general.

How do I best describe myself? Do I have the words to describe what I am feeling? I once heard that the Inuits have over a thousand words that describe the different types of snow. I heard this a long time ago and never fact-checked it, so I am unsure of the accuracy of the statement. This concept of so many words to describe one thing got me thinking of how the words we do have do such a poor job sometimes of getting across what we are truly feeling.

When asked how I am doing, I try not to lie. I don’t want to say that I am fine when, in fact, I feel like the world inside my hear is collapsing. I tend to say that I am still breathing, which is a true statement. I am still breathing. I am also trying not to express on the outside that I am in the process of having a panic attack that makes me want to crawl the walls and run screaming from the room. My daughter says that I am an expert at what she calls “Stealth panic attacks.” I do this because while I was growing up, we were not allowed, or it was not safe, to show the level of terror or anger you were feeling.

So, when I found this blog, I started to think of words that I could come up with that would best describe my emotions. Words that could describe everything from the sublime joy of a warm hug to the absolute internal terror that comes up when my trauma is triggered. I have set a goal to try to make up or find one word a day that I can add to my emotional vocabulary. Today is the first day, and I am unsure which emotion to start my challenge. Perhaps it should be one that deals with indecision.

You can find the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows here:

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