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Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW


Feeling Pensive: A Guide to Your Emotions

PUBLISHED May 11th, 2021 & UPDATED ON Nov 28th, 2022

Pensive isn’t an emotion we talk about very often. If someone asks you how you’re feeling, have you ever responded with, “Ya know, I’m feelin’ pensive today”? Uhh…chances are, you haven’t. If you HAVE, then hats off to you. ‘Cause your vocab is clearly off the charts (and/or you’re super introspective). 

Feeling pensive is similar to feeling thoughtful, but there are some key differences too. So let’s dive thru feeling pensive, how it relates to our mental wellbeing, and some coping strategies to deal with this emotion!

A Deeper Look at Feeling Pensive

First of all…what does pensive even mean? Let’s take a look at a definition, just to be sure. According to Dictionary.com, the word pensive means: “adj. dreamily or wistfully thoughtful; expressing or revealing thoughtfulness, usually marked by some sadness.” Oooh, wistful. That’s another word we maybe don’t use that often to describe how we’re feeling. It’s defined as: “characterized by melancholy or longing.”

Hmm, this really sheds some light on this emotion. It’s not just about feeling thoughtful. It’s about thoughtfulness AND longing. Maybe you’re reflecting on your childhood and where you grew up, and you really miss how simple those times were in your life. Or you might be thinking of a really fun trip you had and all of those great memories. You wish you could relive those moments, but they’re just frozen in time now. 

If you’re an HP reader then you might remember Dumbledore’s Pensieve. It was a magical instrument that was used to view memories. We can kinda look at this emotion like that magical tool that takes us back into our memories and how they made us feel. It can make us really introspective! We might reflect on why a certain event in our lives made us feel a certain way at the time, how we feel about it now, and how it has shaped us into the person we are today. But, you don’t always have to be remembering something specific in order to feel pensive. Sometimes we just do a lot of thinkin’ and get lost in our own thoughts. That’s all just a part of being, ya know, a human being. Go us!

How Feeling Pensive Shows Up Mentally

As far as mental signs go for feeling pensive, it can be kind of a mixed bag of emotions. Here are some of the symptoms you might notice when you’re deep in pensive thought:

  • Nostalgia
  • Reflection
  • Longing
  • Sadness
  • Grief
  • Regret
  • Introspection
  • Missing someone or something

Again, you could be feeling alllll of these things and maybe not really understand why. Listening to certain songs or watching old movies can bring this feeling out of us, just as much as when we look at old photographs. 

How Feeling Pensive Shows Up Physically

When it comes to the physical signs of feeling pensive, they can also vary from person to person. If you’re reflecting on something that makes you feel kinda sad, down or longing, it can look like this:

  • Tearfulness
  • Low energy
  • A pit in your stomach
  • Emptiness
  • Numbness
  • Appetite-loss
  • Difficulty sleeping

Again, emotions are part of being human. But if you’re constantly feeling down or can’t seem to let go of things, it could be a sign of a mental health issue that you need help with. Don’t ever feel ashamed for seeking help from a professional — their job is to guide you through all the things you’re feeling!

5 Ways to Cope with Feeling Pensive

Feeling pensive can really put us in the feeeeels. Whenever you’re in one of these thoughtful, melancholic moods, don’t worry! There are some simple ways you can work through this emotion. Try ‘em out for yourself:

1. Engage in Something Soothing/Comforting

Spend time cuddling your pet. Touch something comforting like your fave cozy blanket. Brew some tea. Find whatever is right for you in the moment that makes your heart feel like a warm lil’ cinnamon bun!

2. Meditate

Meditation is a method that’s been used to relieve stress and improve mental clarity since, like…forever. This practice allows us to slowww down and shift our mindset, which is great when you’re feeling pensive and wanna dig a lil’ deeper. If you’re not sure how to meditate, follow a guided practice on YouTube to get you started!

3. Journal

We’re big fans of journaling here at DiveThru. Any practice that allows us to explore our feels is a practice we love! So, try writing out exactly how you’re feeling and what made you feel this way. Expressing your feelings can give you clarity and feels really great, so jot it all down in detail! Your hand might start to cramp, but hey…SO worth it!

4. Engage in Compassionate Self-Talk

Feeling pensive and reflective can make us rather insightful, but it can also put us in our sad feels at the same time. If that’s the case for you, try these compassionate self-talk phrases. I can’t change my past, but I have control of the present moment. My feelings are always valid. I can get through this feeling.

5. Get Creative

Getting creative is a great method for unwinding and channelling our emotions. Try your hand at drawing, sketching, calligraphy or painting. Write poems or stories. Practice an instrument, sing, dance! There are so many ways to get creative, so choose whatever feels right for you.

That’s it, that’s all we’ve got for you on this emotion. Thanks for diving thru it with us, friend!


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