Worksheet: What’s Underneath? (Identifying feelings)

People aren’t always great at identifying our true feelings.

When asked about their feelings, most people will usually say they feel: bad, sad, mad, good, or fine. But underneath “good, bad, sad, mad, or fine” are many words that better describe how we feel. Taking the time to slow down and identify what we are really experiencing can help us feel better and can improve our communication and relationships with others.

Once you identify what you’re really feeling, it might give you insight into how to ask for what you really need. For example: “I feel mad. But what I’m feeling deep down is vulnerable, unworthy, or unsafe. What I need because I feel unworthy is for you to say, ‘it’s not your fault and I love you.'”

If I stopped at “mad”, I might not be able to find out how to really address the negative things I’m feeling.

This worksheet from Mental Health America’s 2016 Mental Health Month Toolkit can help you dig deeper to understand your true feelings and needs.


Here’s a web-friendly version of the prompts from the worksheet:

  1. Think of a specific event that gave you a strong emotional reaction. This could be something you did, or something someone else did.
  2. Using the prompt below, fill in the blanks to identify what’s underneath.
  3. The feelings list further down this page can help you build your mental collection of feelings.


I felt _____ (bad / sad / mad / good / happy) when _________________ (action or event). But what I was really feeling was __________, __________, and __________.

This type of activity takes practice—but once you start doing it, you’ll find it gets easier over time.

Feelings list (negative emotions)

Basic emotion:Let’s go deeper!
AfraidNervous, Dread, Frightened, Cowardly, Terrified, Alarmed, Panicked, Suspicious, Worried, Apprehensive
AgitatedBothered, Disoriented, Uncomfortable, Uneasy, Frenzied, Irritable, Rash, Offended, Disturbed, Troubled, Grumpy, Unsettled, Unnerved, Restless, Upset
AngryFurious, Livid, Irate, Resentful, Hate, Hostile, Aggressive, Worked up, Provoked, Miffed, Outrage, Defensive
AnnoyedIrritated, Frustrated, Bothered, Impatient, Aggravated, Displeased, Exasperated, Disgruntled, Disturbed, Irked
AnxiousShaky, Distressed, Distraught, Edgy, Fidgety, Frazzled, Irritable, Jittery, Overwhelmed, Restless, Stressed, Preoccupied, Flustered
ConfusedLost, Disoriented, Puzzled, Chaotic, Uncertain, Stuck, Indecisive, Foggy, Mistrust, Dazed, Baffled, Flustered, Perturbed, Perplexed, Hesitant, Immobilized, Ambivalent, Torn
DisconnectedLonely, Isolated, Bored, Distant, Removed, Detached, Separate, Broken, Cold, Aloof, Numb, Withdrawn, Rejected, Out-of-place, Apathetic, Indifferent, Misunderstood, Abandoned, Alienated
DisgustAppalled, Horrified, Dislike, Loathing, Disturbed, Repugnant, Contempt, Spiteful, Animosity, Hostile, Bitter
DisorganizedDistracted, Disheveled, Bedraggled, Run-down, Confused, Discombobulated, Disjointed, Displaced, Jumbled, Out of sorts
EmbarrassmentAwkward, Self-conscious, Silly, Mortified, Humiliated, Flustered, Chagrined, Ashamed, Put down, Guilty, Disgraced
EnvyJealous, Rivalry, Competitive, Covetous, Resentful, Longing, Self-conscious, Insecure, Inadequate, Yearning, Nostalgic, Wistful
HelplessParalyzed, Weak, Defenseless, Powerless, Invalid, Abandoned, Alone, Incapable, Useless, Inferior, Vulnerable, Empty, Distressed
PainHurt, Remorseful, Regretful, Disappointed, Guilty, Grief, Bereaved, Miserable, Agony, Anguish, Bruised, Crushed, Wounded
SadnessHeartbroken, Disappointed, Hopeless, Regretful, Depressed, Pessimistic, Melancholy, Sorrowful, Morbid, Heavy-hearted, Low, Blue, Gloomy, Miserable, Despair
StressTension, Pressure, Overwhelmed, Frazzled, Strain, Imbalanced, Worried, Uneasy, Cranky, Distraught, Dissatisfied, Weighed down, Overworked, Pounded, Anxious, Shocked, Frustrated
TiredBored, Fatigued, Exhausted, Uninterested, Overworked, Worn out, Fed up, Drained, Weary, Burned out, Lethargic, Beat, Sleepy, Depleted
VulnerableInsecure, Shaky, Open, Unsure, Exposed, Unguarded, Sensitive, Unsafe, Inferior, Raw, Weak, Judged, Inadequate

Feelings list (positive emotions)

Basic emotion:Let’s go deeper!
AdmirationAdoration, Affection, Appreciation, Delight, Fondness, Pleasure, Wonder, Regard, Amazed, Amused
AffectionateCaring, Friendly, Loving, Sympathetic, Warm, Doting, Soft, Tender, Attached, Compassionate
ConfidentBold, Courageous, Positive, Sure, Fearless, Optimistic, Encouraged, Safe, Powerful, Proud, Satisfied, Trusting, Secure, Brave, Empowered
ExcitedEnthusiastic, Delighted, Amazed, Passionate, Amused, Aroused, Alert, Piqued, Astonished, Dazzled, Energetic, Awakened, Eager, Charged
ExhilaratedBlissful, Ecstatic, Elated, Enthralled, Exuberant, Radiant, Rapturous, Thrilled
GratitudeThankful, Grateful, Moved, Touched, Appreciative, Graceful, Responsive, Recognized, Indebtedness
IncludedEngaged, Understood, Appreciated, Accepted, Acknowledged, Affirmed, Recognized, Welcomed, Connected, Supported, Belonging, Heard, Respected, Involved
IntriguedAbsorbed, Fascinated, Interested, Charmed, Entertained, Captivated, Engaged, Engrossed, Curious, Surprised
JoyfulCheerful, Festive, Heartening, Lighthearted, Upbeat, Glad, Merry, Elated, Enjoyable, Euphoria, Delighted, Jubilant, Hopeful, Tickled, Pleased
PeacefulCalm, Quiet, Trusting, Fulfilled, Harmonious, Steady, Collected, Composed, Comfortable, Centered, Content, Relieved, Constant, Mellow, Level, Restful, Still, At ease, Satisfied, Relaxed, Clear, Reassured
RefreshedStimulated, Replenished, Exhilarated, Reinvigorated, Revived, Enlivened, Restored, Liberated, Lively, Passionate, Vibrant, Rested

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