Sad: unhappy, depressed, gloomy, ashamed, discour¬aged, heavyhearted, disappointed, in the dumps, blah, dismal, melancholy, sullen, discontented, embarrassed, useless
Scared: afraid, timid, panicky, alarmed, insecure, anxious, worried, dismayed, threatened, petrified, shaky, terrified, cautious, frightened, mixed-up, uptight, abandoned
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Beware of what I call umbrella words. An umbrella word is a common word that is too general in meaning—Good, and bad are commonly used umbrella words. When you say them the person you are trying to communicate with might misinterpret both how you feel and what you think.
When Faye told her boyfriend Max that she felt bad when they were around his large family, he didn't know whether it meant that she was shy, unhappy or angry. She might be an introvert who was very shy in a crowd and had panic attacks with strangers. Maybe Faye was unhappy because Max didn't tell Faye that they were going to stay all day at his family gathering, and she expected that they would leave after an hour and go away by themselves. Perhaps she was angry with Max's sister who criticized what Faye was wearing the first time they met and was worried that his sister would embarrass her in front of the others again.
It turned out that Faye used bad to explain any intense unpleasant emotion. Once she curbed her use of that word and replaced it with more precise language to describe how she felt at different times, Max was able to understand her better, and they fought less often.
Take a piece of paper and complete the following sentence at least 10 times. Do 5 sets in which you use positive feelings and 5 that express negative emotions.
I feel __________________________________________
when you do or don't do/say _________________________________
because I am telling myself _____________________________.
When you learn to eliminate the phrase "I feel that_____" and replace the word that with the name of a positive or negative feeling you will gain more insight into what you need or want from your lover and be able to communicate it. Once your partner learns what thoughts are underlying your emotion he or she will understand you better. As a result you will both feel more confident and happier.
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