Invent your own emotion

While I was preparing our Working with Emotions in Conflict online course, I came across a great exercise and I’m going to challenge you all to participate! It’s from Lisa Feldman Barrett‘s book How Emotions are Made (an essential book in this field). As you may know, the bigger vocabulary we have to describe our emotions, the better we will be at recognising them in all their nuances and at communicating them to others. Barrett gives many examples of emotions that are recognised in some cultures but unknown in others. She suggests that we should all engage in inventing our own emotions. Her example is “chiplessness” which she describes as the feeling of reaching into a bag of potato chips and discovering that the previous chip you ate was the last one. You feel disappointed that the bag is empty, relieved that you won’t be ingesting any more calories, slightly guilty that you ate the entire bag, and yet hungry for another chip. Let’s all invent our own emotion concept! 

Here are my new emotions:

  • spillease – it’s the feeling you get when you have had your car cleaned immaculately and then your child spills their icecream all over the back seat. It’s a combination of feeling annoyed at your child, disappointed that your car is no longer clean, but also kind of relieved that the inevitable accidental spillage has occurred because now you don’t have to be so vigilant in trying to maintain the pristine cleanliness of your car any more.
  • bodtrayed – it’s that feeling when you have done every thing right, eaten healthy foods, exercised, worn sunscreen, got good sleep, and yet your body fails you – you find out you’ve got cancer, you are injured right before the big race, you get Covid two days before your wedding…. You feel betrayed by your body. It’s more than just disappointment. It’s personal.

And here are the emotions that everyone invented:


  • catified – to be helpless to feline wishes. To become a cat pillow. To feel relief that no chores or other tasks can be done. Enjoying furry warmth with healing cat frequencies between 25 and 150 Hertz. Various investigators have shown that sound frequencies in this range can improve bone density and promote healing.


  • exergised or exergenic – feeling motivated and/or joyful following exercise; 
  • bepuddled – feeling of uncertainty or confusion when approaching a body of water and trying to determine whether you can safely access it; 
  • launthetic – feeling of apathy completing each stage of washing, drying, folding and/or ironing clothes;
  • gullagry – feeling anger or frustration when seagulls collectively mob you in pursuit of your food;
  • slidehensive – feeling apprehension when tentatively using playground equipment on a hot day.


  • outseasoned – the feeling you get when you are engrossed/binge watching a particular series that you’re really enjoying and you watch the last episode of the last season only to realise it has been discontinued and there won’t be any more EVER!!


  • publovehaty – this moment when you are annoyed with your kid into their puberty, but still love them to the moon.


  • melancauliflower – the sadness I felt today when I realised that the only edible thing left in the house was a cauliflower and that I’d either have to a) eat cauliflower for dinner or b) go grocery shopping.

 Rosanne (Rosie)

  • futureless – when multiple major life changing events occur within a close timeframe, evolving into a perception that one has no future.


  • scruticrise – I do not scrutinise and criticise
  • frustpatient – that moment when I am feeling so frustrated about something (usually at myself) then I realise how unreasonable I am being and patience appears and pushes frustration off the cliff.


  • gigglecry – when you’re out for lunch after a 7 day close contact quarantine and you’ve had a drink and you didn’t catch covid.


  • dragabout – when you have been living ground hog day for an extended period of time and you have lost passion for life and you are just going through the motions but you need to drag this carcass that has become you from meeting to meeting in hopes that something please God anything will be different about this day. Meanwhile, the world around you seems to be tossed on its head and you are trapped in this never ending day. There is a sense of fatigue, helplessness and sheer frustration with it all. Yet, hope looms large because this carcass that you are dragging you now liken it to a hermit crab shell and you hope to one day inhabit it again.


  • lingerlonger – those moments when the world seems perfect and you want to loiter in that spot

 Laura May

  • confelicity – happiness at someone else’s happiness. It’s like schadenfreude’s friendly cousin.


  • singlesunflowerness – when you follow the light, the ratio, the knowledge and you know actually things but you live among others who just look at one single point, a single version, a taken for granted ufficial truth. You are in a crowded place and feel different, unaccepted and delegitimated although you know you are right. At the same time you feel right, a little proud but also sorry for the others who cannot raise their head and see the sunny truth. Another name could be Out-of-Plato-caveness.

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