Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


Dive Into a Year-End Emotional Inventory

Reviewing how you felt this year can help you move forward.

Key points

  • Taking a “personal inventory” of one's emotions can help shed light on certain thought patterns and behaviors.
  • Reviewing emotions helps one become more comfortable with them. With time, emotions become more manageable.
  • Allowing oneself to experience emotions eventually leads to more authenticity and better relationships.

An end-of-year review of your self-care and wellbeing can help you prioritize and give you insights into what you would like to change in the new year. Part of that review can include looking at the emotions you experienced.

It is crucial to take stock of your feelings during the continuing pandemic. You have experienced and felt things that were new to you. Doing a “personal inventory” of your emotions can help you analyze your thought patterns and behaviors. It can also help you make changes in the future. When we take a step back from what we have experienced, we can view it with less judgment.

Sometimes, we tend to think logically instead of focusing on our emotions. Looking at things logically can be safer for us. We don’t feel as many emotions when we are analyzing a situation. If you grew up in a family-of-origin where expressing feelings was not allowed or encouraged, diving into emotions can feel intimidating. You may even feel out of control when you experience intense emotions.

However, the more you sit with your emotions and do not push them away, the easier it is to accept them. With time, the emotions you feel may appear to be more manageable.

Take an Emotional Inventory

Find some quiet time and either write or dictate the answers to the following questions. It is perfectly normal to feel various emotions when answering these questions. It is best to answer these questions when your stress level is lower and you have time to do something kind and nurturing for yourself afterward.

What were the main feelings you experienced this year?

What losses did you experience this year?

What gains did you achieve this year?

What was your most significant learning experience?

What is something you wanted to do this year but weren’t able to accomplish?

What achievement were you proudest of this year?

What feelings did you try to avoid this year?

What’s an emotion you thought you would feel more of this year?

What’s an emotion you felt this year that surprised you?

What are the main feelings you would like to experience next year?

What can you do to embrace and accept your feelings next year?

Forget about using proper grammar or correct spelling. The most important thing is to get your words out on the page or over a voice recording. Notice any emotions this inventory brought up for you. Did you feel a sense of relief? Sadness? Hopefulness for the future? Write down your reactions to answering these questions.

In the future, you can adapt these questions for a daily inventory. Just replace “this year” with “today” and “next year” with “tomorrow.” You can also do a weekly or monthly inventory.

The more you write out your feelings and allow yourself to experience them, the easier it will be for you to be authentic in your daily life. Authenticity, or being able to truly be yourself, can help improve your relationship with yourself and with others.

If you are working with a mental health professional, consider sharing what you have discovered from this exercise. It may provide both of you greater insight into your experiences.

Copyright 2021 Sarkis Media LLC

To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

More from Stephanie A. Sarkis Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today