Difficult emotions: translate them, express them

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Louise Hay
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Difficult emotions: translate them, express them

Last update: July 26, 2020

Le difficult emotions they combine sensations that seem contradictory. However, by specifying them and trying to express them, they favor communication with ourselves and with others.

When we talk about difficult emotions, we are referring to those that do not manifest themselves in their pure state, that is, most. Like when we feel love and hate at the same time (which almost always happens), or when compassion mixes with anger or anger with sadness.



Sometimes everything manifests itself globally as malaise, but it is not possible to specify which emotions cause a certain emotional state.

In some cases, especially if we are not used to it, an arduous job has to be done to clarify them, translate them into thought and express them aloud. Each of these steps becomes very complex at times, even if it is the way out of an unwanted emotional state.

Strictly speaking, there are not enough or exact words to express difficult emotions. Perhaps this is precisely why poetry exists, a polysemic language that reflects the characteristic imprecision of the feelings and emotions that involve us.

Beyond the artistic manifestations, sometimes we have to, in one way or another, find a way to communicate.

"Intelligence can be confused, but feelings never lie."

-Roger Ebert-

Difficult emotions and their expressions

We find a reflection of how complicated the process of calibrating and expressing these emotions can be untranslatable words from one language to another.

There is no way to translate the meaning from one language to another, precisely because they are complex or related to a certain social context.


Let's look at some examples:


  • leisure stress. A German word for stress experienced when engaging in activities just to fill free time.
  • Literally. Czech word that indicates the feeling that arises when we realize that we are miserable and this seems irremediable.
  • gigil. A Filipino term that means wanting to "hold" or "cling" to something, for the tenderness it infuses us.
  • Sukha. An expression in Sanskrit that defines the type of happiness not felt as passing. A deeply happy and lasting happiness.

On several occasions, in the translation exercise, we do not find a way to transfer foreign terms from one language to another without losing some nuances of meaning.

We do not find ways to identify, nor to make or express difficult emotions. We do not know the word that manages to specify them. This discourages us because the possibility of naming something is what allows us to face it.

The way to identify emotions

We are generally used to classifying emotions into five basic groups: happiness, sadness, anger, fear and disgust. Sometimes, actually, what we feel corresponds to one of these basic emotions.

However, there are also times when all of these emotions are too general for us to be specific. Our fear is disgusted or anger is frightened.

What characterizes this type of emotions is the fusion with other emotions, apparently very different from each other. In order to identify them, the first ability that comes into play is to make our thinking more flexible. To understand that we cannot find a categorical form to name them, since they do not correspond to categorical feelings.


We must also free ourselves from the temptation to evaluate emotions from an ethical level: there are no good or bad emotions. In fact, potentially, with respect to the consequences, an emotion can be very good or very bad.


Ultimately, it is the management of emotion and associated energy that decides. In other words, an emotion cannot be a precedent for our actions, but neither can justify them.


On the other hand, it is important abandon the idea of ​​reconciling the irreconcilable. Sad joy is sad joy and it is not mandatory that one of the two predominate over the other.

The importance of defining and expressing

Free expression, like its opposite, limits and stresses. Expressing what we feel in words enriches communication with others, also improving the quality of our inner dialogue. Furthermore, it promotes understanding, availability, empathy and peace, internal and external.

To give voice to these emotions, an exercise is needed analysis that allows us to separate the emotions that induced the general state, as well as the influence of each.

If we are talking about angry cheerfulness, then we are talking about cheerfulness and anger. When it comes to disgusted and fearful sadness, three basic emotions are involved.


Surely each of these concepts can be better specified. Anger can be irritation, anger, annoyance, and a thousand other shades. The important thing is to find the word that best suits what we feel.

An exercise that helps complete this process of identifying, translating and expressing emotions is the following.

  • Try building a sentence starting with "I feel ... when ..."
  • Try to associate the sentence with all the emotions involved.
  • At the end make a summary of what you have written and try to integrate it.

An interesting exercise that sometimes results in poetry and always in a better understanding of the emotional state.

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