An interesting study, by UCLA’s Matthew Lieberman (Matthew Lieberman et al., “Putting Feelings into Words: Affect Labelling Disrupts Amygdala Activity in Response to Affective Stimuli”, 2007), found that decreased activation of the amygdala occurs when feelings are labelled with words.

It can be a challenge to name our feelings. By focusing attention on where in the body the feeling sits, and then guessing at words to describe the feelings, we can get clarity and a sense of relief when we find the word that corresponds to the feeling.

Marshall Rosenberg, from the Centre for Non-Violent Communication, has developed a list of universal feelings we have when our needs are met, and those we have when those needs are not met.

In addition to this, he has developed a list of universal needs, which are very useful for the development of self responsibility.

When Needs are Fulfilled

  • Amazed, Fulfilled, Joyous, Stimulated
  • Comfortable, Glad, Moved, Surprised
  • Confident, Hopeful, Optimistic, Thankful
  • Eager, Inspired, Proud, Touched
  • Energetic, Intrigued, Relieved, Trustful

When Needs are Not Fulfilled

  • Angry, Discouraged, Hopeless, Overwhelmed
  • Annoyed, Distressed, Impatient, Puzzled
  • Concerned, Embarrassed, Irritated, Reluctant
  • Confused, Frustrated, Lonely, Sad
  • Disappointed, Helpless, Nervous, Uncomfortable


  • Choosing dreams/goals/value
  • Choosing plans for the fulfilling one’s dreams, goals and values


  • Celebrating the creation of life and dreams fulfilled
  • Celebrating losses: loved ones, dreams, etc. (Mourning)


  • Authenticity, Creativity
  • Meaning, Self Worth


  • Acceptance, Appreciation, Closeness, Community
  • Consideration, Contribution to the enrichment of life
  • Emotional Safety, Empathy, Honesty, Love
  • Reassurance, Respect, Support, Trust, Understanding

Physical Nurturance:

  • Air, Food, Movement, Exercise
  • Protection from life threatening forms of life: viruses, bacteria, insects, predatory animals
  • Rest, Sexual Expression
  • Shelter, Touch, Water


  • Fun, Laughter

Spiritual Communion:

  • Beauty, Harmony
  • Inspiration, Order, Peace