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36 Prompts for Exploring Your Emotions—Especially If You’re Out of Practice

A photo by Francesco Gallarotti.

It can be really hard to process our emotions, especially if we’ve spent years doing anything but. Maybe you’ve dismissed your emotions. Maybe you’ve pretended they didn’t exist, burying them deeper and deeper, hoping all the dirt would make them disappear.

Maybe you’ve covered up your emotions with chips or chocolate. Maybe you’ve covered them up with a few glasses of wine. Maybe you’ve covered them up with “busy,” running around and going and doing.

This is where writing can help. Writing is one way we can process our emotions. It’s one way we can listen. Below are prompts you can use to explore your emotions, to connect to them (and thereby connect to yourself).

  1. Right now I feel ____________.
  2. During childhood, this is what I was taught about emotions _____________. Later I learned that __________.
  3. For me joy feels like ________.
  4. I have a hard time feeling ___________ (this emotion) because _________.
  5. When I’m anxious, I feel it in ____________ (e.g., my chest, my stomach).
  6. I feel fear in ___________.
  7. I feel anger in ___________.
  8. I feel sadness in ____________.
  9. I feel hope in ___________.
  10. Overwhelm feels like ___________.
  11. When I feel numb, I really feel ____________.
  12. The last time I felt a deep sense of shame was ________ because _________.
  13. What surprises me most about my emotions is ________________.
  14. I tend to get angry when __________.
  15. I tend to feel fearful when ____________.
  16. I tend to feel joyful when _____________.
  17. I tend to feel hopeful when __________.
  18. I tend to feel sadness when __________.
  19. What does “feeling lost” mean to me?
  20. When I say my heart aches, it means _____________.
  21. This week I mostly felt ___________.
  22. This is an emotional scar I wear ____________.
  23. To me loneliness feels like _________________.
  24. I feel like I’m carrying an elephant on my chest when __________.
  25. When I feel “small,” I feel _______________.
  26. When I woke up yesterday, I felt ________________.
  27. When I went to bed yesterday, I felt ______________.
  28. When I feel _________ (this emotion), it actually feels liberating.
  29. When I feel ___________, my thoughts usually say _____________.
  30. What tends to lie beneath my __________ (emotion) is really this __________ (emotion).
  31. If I let my sadness speak, it would say ________.
  32. If I let my anger speak, it would say ________.
  33. If I let my fear speak, it would say ___________.
  34. If I let my joy speak, it would say ____________.
  35. What emotion have I been denying?
  36. What would happen if I just feel it?

Some prompts may be relevant to you. Some may not be. Some you might be ready to respond to right now. Some you might want to wait on. As I always say, it’s totally up to you. You’re in charge. Go gradually. Go slowly. But do try. Honoring our emotions is really honoring ourselves. And processing your emotions takes practice. It’s an ever-evolving process.

Photo by Francesco Gallarotti.
36 Prompts for Exploring Your Emotions—Especially If You’re Out of Practice

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2016). 36 Prompts for Exploring Your Emotions—Especially If You’re Out of Practice. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 28 Sep 2016
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