This year Mark and I have been reading a wonderful book:  How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich.  The book has given us great insights into ourselves and each other.  Not only that, but it has changed our parenting, as well.

One way that it has changed us is that we are more intentionally tuning into the emotional needs of our kids.  We’re slowing down, listening, and helping our kids figure out what they are feeling (this is no small feat with 16 and 18-year-old boys!) and then tending to those feelings.  We’re doing the same for ourselves.

158877315 (2)The Yerkovich’s offer a “Soul Words” list that helps you identify what you are feeling. When one of our boys is struggling, we’ll print out the list and ask them to circle the words that describe what they are feeling.  This helps us move from dealing with “moodiness” to what’s really at the heart of their struggle.

Here are some soul words you can use for your family:


Cheerful, delighted, elated, encouraged, glad, gratified, joyful, lighthearted, overjoyed, pleased, relieved, satisfied, thrilled, secure.


Affectionate, cozy, passionate, romantic, sexy, warm, tender, responsive, thankful, appreciative, refreshed, pleased


Energetic, enthusiastic, excited, playful, rejuvenated, talkative, pumped, motivated, driven, determined, obsessed


Stunned, surprised, shocked, jolted


Uneasy, embarrassed, frustrated, nauseated, ashamed, nervous, restless, worried, stressed


Positive, secure, self-assured, assertive


At ease, calm, comforted, cool, relaxed, serene


Scared, anxious, apprehensive, boxed in, burdened, confused, distressed, fearful, frightened, guarded, hard pressed, overwhelmed, panicky, paralyzed, tense, terrified, worried, insecure


Shocked, disturbed, injured, damaged


Annoyed, controlled, manipulated, furious, grouchy, grumpy, irritated, provoked, frustrated


Beaten down, exhausted, tired, weak, listless, depressed, detached, withdrawn, indifferent, apathetic


Avoidant, lonely, abandoned, deserted, forlorn, isolated, cut off, detached


Unhappy, crushed, dejected, depressed, desperate, despondent, grieved, heartbroken, heavy, weepy


Deceived, fooled, duped, tricked


Baffled, perplexed, mystified, bewildered


Guilty, mortified, humiliated, embarrassed, exposed

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