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Not Sure How to Respond? Take These 5 Steps to Assess Your Feelings

Feelings are essential in our daily life. Unfortunately, many people shy away from their feelings, often out of fear of expressing them. While others end up giving their emotions free range and allowing them to rule their lives.

But feelings have an important function. They allow us to better understand our environment and our relationships. And research shows that emotions that were once deemed “bad,” such as anger and contempt, are not necessarily so.  

There are times when it’s necessary for you to express anger, such as when you observe an injustice. In fact, you actually do yourself more harm by bottling up these emotions. But this doesn’t mean you should go ahead and express anger and contempt all the time. It’s necessary to assess whether you’re having healthy emotional reactions.

Consider these steps in examining your emotional responses.

Examine your feeling

What are you feeling? Where in your body are you feeling it? Are you having any urges to suppress this feeling? Why? Do you think that something bad will happen if you allow this feeling? Why? What can you do to tolerate the emotional state that you’re currently in?

When thinking about your feelings, consider a variety of emotions instead of resorting to happy, sad or angry. There may be other emotions that more clearly define how you’re feeling, for example: grumpy, frustrated, annoyed, disappointe, regretful or pessimistic. Be as specific as you can.

Understand the why

Why are you feeling this emotion? If you’re angry, is it because someone cut you off while you were driving, or were you watching a political clip on Facebook? Are there any needs you have that aren’t being met? Has a boundary been violated? What’s your contribution to this? Are there other unrelated issues brought into this feeling? Take time to completely understand the why behind your feelings.

Assess the frequency of your feeling

Think about how often you’ve been having this feeling. Have you noticed that you’ve been feeling frustrated often at work and at home? It’s important to think about the frequency of the emotion. If you find that you’ve been having certain characteristically negative feelings quite often, you may want to thoroughly examine what’s occurring in your life that’s leading you to respond this way. Once you’re clear, decide what, if any, changes you’ll need to make.

Separate your feeling from your thoughts

Recognize that your feelings can impact your thoughts. They can blind you from reality, which is why it’s important for you to take time to process your feelings before responding to them.

Decide how you want to respond to your feeling

After you’ve examined your feeling, think about the best way to respond. If you find that you’re having difficulty processing, you may need some more time to separate your feelings from your thoughts in order to better understand the situation. Assess whether your feeling requires an immediate response, or if you can respond at a later time.

Being able to effectively manage our feelings is essential to the success of our relationships in our careers and our personal lives. So be sure to take steps to continue to develop this skill each day. And if you find that you’re struggling with managing your feelings, consider seeking professional support.  


Tamir, M., Schwartz, S. H., Oishi, S., & Kim, M. Y. (2017, August 14). The Secret to Happiness: Feeling Good or Feeling Right?. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication.

Not Sure How to Respond? Take These 5 Steps to Assess Your Feelings

Natalie Pizzolla, LMSW

Natalie Pizzolla, LMSW, is a Personal & Professional Relationship Coach at Finer Connections. She's passionate about helping people improve the relationships in their lives. In her 10 years of experience Natalie has counseled individuals and families, coached staff, worked in advocacy and managed programs and departments. In addition, Natalie married her husband 3 months after meeting him and is still married almost 6 years later. Natalie's writing comes from both her professional as well as personal experience. For more information: Find Natalie on Facebook & Twitter.

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APA Reference
Pizzolla, N. (2018). Not Sure How to Respond? Take These 5 Steps to Assess Your Feelings. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 4 Oct 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.