From pronoia to awumbuk: 10 emotions you have experienced without realizing it

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Robert Maurer
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Have you ever experienced the incredible feeling that everything is going so well that the stars seem to have aligned in your favor? Have you ever felt the sudden and irrepressible need to destroy something? These emotions and feelings have a name, but not in our language, because they represent complex emotional states that are difficult to express in the words we know.

However, Tiffany Watt Smith, a psychologist at Queen Mary University's Center for the History of Emotions, analyzed 154 words in different languages ​​that are used to indicate very specific emotions and feelings that most of us have experienced at least once, but without knowing its name.



When the emotional life is richer than the vocabulary

Our emotional field is extremely broad. But if we don't pay enough attention to our emotions, sensations and feelings, they end up "disappearing" and we will lose the wealth they can bring us. In fact, emotional granularity is a skill that very few people possess and refers to the ability to experience different emotional states while being aware of them. It does not mean feeling bad, in general, but being able to tell that we are feeling frustrated, nostalgic or angry.

Knowing the names of the different emotions, sensations and feelings we experience helps us expand our emotional range. In fact, when we manage to label them we experience these feelings more intensely, because we are telling our brains to focus on them.

Here are some of the "rare" emotions and sensations that you may have experienced at least once:

1. Amae

The word "amae" is Japanese and literally means "to behave like a spoiled child", but in the most positive sense of the word. In fact, in Japan it is used to refer to the good feeling that involves abandoning yourself, forgetting yourself and entrusting yourself to the care of a loved one, such as a partner or mother. This emotion is pleasant because it allows us to go back to childhood and relive the feeling of protection.



2. The call of the void

Has it ever happened to you to find yourself at the top of a building and want to throw yourself? Or while driving the car, did you feel the irrepressible desire to quickly turn the steering wheel and get off the road? The French call this sudden impulse "L'Appel du vide", which does not necessarily mean that there is a suicidal idea behind it or that the person will try to implement it. In fact, they believe that it is the "call of the void", a kind of force difficult to explain that encourages us to do dangerous things but basically serves to remind us that it is not always good to get carried away by instinct.

3. Awumbuk

This emotion is like our melancholy, but much more specific, as the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea use it to indicate the sense of emptiness we feel when a person who has recently visited us leaves. At that moment the house is empty and we feel deeply alone. To fill this void, the inhabitants of Baining, Papua New Guinea, perform a ritual: when the person leaves, they fill a bowl with water, which captures all negative energy. The next day they throw the water away with all the negative feelings, and life goes on.

4. Ilinx

It is a French word used to indicate the strange excitement we experience with the idea of ​​destroying something. It refers to the impulse we feel when we have a fragile object in our hands and are assailed by the idea of ​​throwing it to the ground and breaking it. This feeling comes from the desire to create chaos, which is perfectly understandable since we live in a society where everything is so well organized and labeled as to be overwhelming. In fact, this feeling usually occurs at times when we feel trapped.



5. Shame

“Malu” is a word used in Indonesia to indicate the feeling of feeling inferior to others. In fact, it is an annoying sensation in which different emotions and feelings such as shame, shyness and frustration are mixed. We can experience it when we are alone in the elevator with our boss and we don't feel comfortable. At that moment we suddenly lose confidence in ourselves and are assailed by shame. In fact, this feeling can become so strong that it psychologically blocks us. When the person disappears, we feel relief.

6. Pronoia

It's a good feeling you probably got without knowing what it was called. In fact, it's the exact opposite of paranoia, as it implies the feeling that everything is going in the right direction. It is a feeling that fills us with positive energy, as we feel that all the stars have finally aligned and we have been blessed with luck. At the same time, we feel protected and are confident that, at least in the foreseeable future, everything will work out well for us.

7. Gate closing panic

This German word is used to indicate the feeling that time passes very quickly. It is a feeling that we experience over the years, especially if we are not satisfied with what we have achieved in life. It also involves the feeling of feeling on the verge of missing the train, the fear of missing the opportunity of a lifetime. In fact, the literal translation of Torschlusspanik, would be something like "fear that the doors will close", includes worry about the passage of time and the feeling that we are not profiting enough.


8. Iktsuarpok

This Inuit word is used to refer to that feeling that almost everyone has experienced when we are waiting for someone with anxiety. It is the spasmodic waiting that forces us to stand at the window or at the door, to see if the person we are waiting for has arrived, even if we know that the time has not yet come. Iktsuarpok is the word for expectation which includes anxiety and impatience, but also hope and enthusiasm.


9. Mono no aware

It is a Japanese expression that indicates a particularly complex emotion in which sensitivity, emotion, surprise and sadness are mixed. We often experience this emotion in front of the beauty of things or ephemeral relationships, such as when we have visited a beautiful place that is about to be demolished or we appreciate a beautiful flower that will soon dry up, for example. This emotion tells us that we are enjoying something unique, which will soon cease to exist, so we feel joy, but also sadness. It is a very profound feeling, because, in a certain sense, it confronts us with our own mortality.

10. Conviviality

It is a Dutch word used to indicate a pleasant feeling of warmth and intimacy that makes us feel comfortable and protected. It is often used to indicate special moments of intimacy with friends or partner, but we can also experience this feeling in places that have a very warm and welcoming atmosphere that makes us feel safe and at home.

And if you are interested in knowing more, here you can find a complete list of emotions and feelings.

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