Color Me Obsessive, part 2

You’ve probably dumped the contents of your junk drawer or its equivalent out on a table and gone through the items. You know the joy of finding forgotten objects, the surprise at some of the debris you’ve accumulated, and the lost objects you retrieve. You know the satisfaction of putting the “keepers” back in nice tidy order.

After finishing the list of emotions that I wrote about last post, I feel somewhat as if I took my heart, turned it upside down over a sheet of paper, and shook out the contents for exploration. I was amazed at the quantity and variety of emotion words it holds. I sorted the initial tumble of words into alphabetical order to check for duplications and added others as Sarabelle sent them along. What I have right now is a basic array. Soon I’ll start sorting and clustering, and perhaps I’ll discover that there are only a dozen piles and that most of the words are other ways of saying similar things.

The resulting list will be a gold mine as a thesaurus for precise and varied terminology in stories, but as this project has unfolded, I’ve discovered unexpected additional benefits. I’ve become keenly aware of the wide range of feelings I experience, and the huge variety of nuances within clusters. As I derived the list, I envisioned all sorts of events and circumstances in my life, both positive, negative and neutral, and payed close attention to the feelings I experienced as I remembered. I’ve been through the gamut from terror to rapture, revulsion to attraction, apathy (omigosh — I do not have apathy on my list! It may never be totally complete) to engagement, and everything in between.

As I conclude the experience, I’m more aware than ever that I generally have a choice about how I view or feel about things. Having examined all these options, I’m determined to place optimism, kindness, compassion, gratitude and other “positive” emotions in the forefront for easy access. I won’t do away with the less savory ones, like envy or avoidance. I’m still human! But I can recognize them for what they are and perhaps temper them.

In the post that sparked this quest, Ybonesy mentioned Emotional Intelligence. Perhaps it’s time to read Daniel Goleman’s book by that name as a wrap-up.

The golden nugget I have discovered the last few days is that a five-minute writing exercise can turn into a potentially life-changing event. Exploration and review of one small area may ripple out into your whole life or way of thinking.

You may notice that I have not mentioned the the word count for my list. There is a reason for that. It isn’t about quantity. It’s about insight, and that’s very personal. I urge everyone reading this post to devote a least an hour to making your own list if you haven't already done so. Once you start the list, you may find additional words come spurting in over the next few days, so always have a scrap of paper and pencil available to capture the flashes, because these inspirations melt like snowflakes on a salty sidewalk.

If you are adventurous, I invite you to share your list. I’ll respond immediately with my list to anyone who e-mails a list to me at Ritergal @ (without the spaces). On November 19, a week from this Monday, I’ll take whatever lists I have and compile them into a master document of several hundred terms. I’ll also share that with you. So, what are you waiting for? Grab those pencils and let the ideas fly!

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal


ybonesy said...

I made my list, what, two days ago?, and I'm in that space now where it's floating in my consciousness. I think, Did I included "excited"? I wonder why so many of my "words" were two or three or four words strung together.

When I got into long spurts of throwing out negative or disturbed emotions, I wondered, Why so many of those? Then I'd try to stay on the positive side for a while.

It truly was so much more impactful an exercise than I ever imagined it would be! Thanks for sharing your experience. I might not have taken it as far as I did without your prompting and encouragement.

Ritergal said...

I also noticed an early preponderance of words like revolted, irate, etc. Perhaps these strong, overwhelming emotions overshadow the gentler ones, as jalepeño overwhelms thyme.

Like you, I worked on the uplifting, happy ones, and only felt "finished" when rapturous finally surfaced.

Thanks for sharing. I'm hopeful that others have lists fermenting and more group input will result in a truly comprehensive list.