Identifying Emotions

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How do I feel?

“Feelings are just visitors. Let them come and go.”

Seeing as it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, I figured it’d be the perfect time to launch this portrait series on emotions and feelings. This portrait session was a personal project for me, designed to simply focus on raw human emotion (keeping the images in Black and White so that colors wouldn’t be distracting). I asked Kirsi to listen to each question I asked her, then to simply allow and sit with any feelings that came up. I’m not going to tell you the questions or answers from this session. Instead, I want you to view each image and see if you can identify the emotion or feeling evoked. Go beyond the common four (mad, glad, sad, and afraid).

When we visibly can see emotions on somebody else’s face or body language, it can be easier to name the feeling than it is identifying our own emotions. Often times when things are out of our control, we know we feel upset, but we don’t discern what emotion exactly it is that we’re feeling in that moment. Identifying our emotions helps us to better understand and deal with them.

Having a wide range of emotions is actually really healthy. Our mental, spiritual and physical bodies are all connected more than we know. Studies have proven that stuffing emotions down can lead to inflammation in the body and from there a spiral of illnesses, anxiety and depression. Guys, we’re allowed to feel how we feel! We need to let our feelings out. Don’t let anyone tell you differently!

Next time you’re having strong negative emotions, remember it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling. It’s okay to not be okay. Stop what you’re doing, breathe and focus on identifying the emotion. Sit with it. Label it. Journal. Talk it out. Work it out. Do what you need to do to understand it. Then thank that feeling for bringing you awareness and let it go.

Together, let’s bring to the table more conversations about feelings and emotions and break the stigma about mental health. I, like many of you, have lost a friend due to mental illness and don’t ever want to know a friend felt alone in their struggle again. Let’s feel and let’s make others feel heard.
You are so loved, friends.


To see more images from Kirsi’s studio portrait session on emotion, head here.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on mental health. If you need help, please seek professional advice.