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Feelings You Never Knew You Had

Posted 12/14/2018 by Halle Bristow

Human emotions can be very difficult to understand, but this article can help by providing a language for ambiguous feelings you likely never knew you had. graphic by Halle Bristow

What are emotions? Why do we feel the way we do? What am I feeling? A person’s mental state can be a confusing place to navigate, but in reading this you’ll discover feelings you never knew you had.

Recent research suggests that there are only six to eight basic, universal emotions. But this article is in opposition to that argument which reduces the beautiful complexity of our lives through a few cardinal expressions. Understanding the infinite capacity of our emotions helps to uncover the tacit belief of what a ‘normal’ response would be. This article makes no attempt to be a comprehensive analysis of our emotions in order to identify some meaning behind our beautiful, convoluted lives. Instead, it is a small composition about certain substantial emotions that originate from cultures all around the world, and can be attributed to The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. These entries make no claims to be definitive, but are only expressing the vast expanse of our reactions purely for the act of giving it a name. By acknowledging that there are apparent obscure emotions, which are just as distinctive as any other basic human emotion, very simply implies that you are not alone in what you feel. Once there is a name for an experience, that experience becomes something that can be shared and expanded upon, which in its own way, is comforting.

Abhiman /ah-buh-ee-man/ (noun): The closest, direct meaning from Hindi to English is “self-pride.” It is a mixture of pain and anger when someone you love deeply hurts you. Sorrow and shock are the initial  experiences, however it later develops into a fierce sense of pride and a wounded dignity. It is an acceptable response to an extreme sense of betrayal after someone you love and trust breaks an unspoken contract of love and respect.


Exulansis /ex-yu-lan-sis/ (noun): Deriving from the Latin term exulan; to go into exile, this is the impulse to give up attempting to explain an experience or story because people are unable to understand. There is also a feeling of despair because others cannot relate through sympathy, pity, or through novelty. Then the feeling of the memory seems less important and foreign, out of place even, to the storyteller.


Jouska /jow-ska/ (noun): Imagining a hypothetical scenario that you impulsively play in your head. Whether it be an analysis, a distinctly new dialogue, or a better comeback to a previous conversation, you talk aloud as if it had actually taken place.


Kaukokaipuu /cow-co-kai-poo/ (noun): Sometimes when you are far away, you feel homesick for a familiar place. Kaipuu translates to “yearning,” however kauko translates to “far away.” This is closer to a feeling of wanderlust rather than being homesick, in the manner that you crave to go to a distant place you’ve never been. Sometimes that place is not defined; it is just a feeling of wanting to be anywhere but here.


Mauerbauer Traurigkeit /maau-er-bow-er trau-rig-keit/ (noun): When you are unable to discern whether or not an interaction was out of a polite obligation or a genuine sentiment, and therefore have a strong impulse to isolate yourself and push friends and family away. It is when you build a wall around yourself out of sorrow for your own inability to make a deep, impactful connection or relationship with others. Mauer is the German word for “wall,” while bauer means “farmer.” Traurig with the corresponding -keit also translates from German to “sad” and “-ness.”


Monachopsis /mon-ah-kop-sis/ (noun): With a Greek origin, monos translates to “solitary,” and opsis means “appearance.” It is an opposition to the feeling of being effortlessly and comfortably at home. Instead, you feel incredibly out of place, even when trying your hardest to fit in.


Occhiolism /oc-key-ooh-lism/ (noun): Although your personal experiences have their own distinct narratives, they seem out of control and only a small portion on the greater scale of life, leading to the sudden awareness and recognition of the narrow size of your own perspective due to the vast complexity of the world and everything unknown to you.


Sonder /son-der/ (noun): From the German term sundraz which means “ apart or without oneself” and the English word sunder for “separating,” sonder is the cognitive conclusion that the strangers you pass by have just as complicated and elaborate lives as you. The world is populated with many other separate stories that continue to evolve around you and apart from you inconspicuously.


Saudade /sou-day-dah/ (noun): From Portuguese to English, this word is directly translated to “missing.” It is similar to nostalgia in the sense that there is something profound missing for your life. Whether it is a loved one, an important object, or a virtue that you find yourself lacking, this is an emotional state of hopefulness for its appearance mixed with grief over its absence.


Whether or not you regard these words in actuality, the main purpose of this article is to bring awareness to particular experiences that come across as unexplainable. If any part of this resonated with you, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in what you feel, no matter how inexplicable it seems. Emotions have a complexity that can beguile us, but when the understanding of an experience become well-known, it can help us to express our mental state and allow others to connect through that.