I don’t feel it

A conversation about emotions in the climate crisis

Brief description

The participants expand their view of the psycho-social effects of the climate crisis and global injustice through a guided meditation and reflections with emotion cards.

Working Material to Download

Emotion Cards

Guided Meditation

Learning objectives

The participants…

  •  broaden their view of the psycho-social effects of the climate crisis and global injustice
  • find (initial) access to their own emotions regarding the climate crisis and other social challenges
  • discover a connection with themselves and the world around them and feel strengthened in their ability to act



From a scientific perspective, there is clear evidence that emotion and cognition (i.e. feeling and understanding) are deeply intertwined and influence each other. People experience everything in an emotional-cognitive way. Even if emotions are not consciously perceived, they have a major influence on how people evaluate situations and how they behave. Emotions are psychophysical movements that are triggered by a situation. A conscious awareness of our emotions can provide us with information about our behaviour and the underlying needs.

Emotions also play a central role in the context of the climate crisis, global inequality and sustainability. For example, young people experience fear, helplessness, sadness, frustration and anger regarding the global present and future. At the same time, feelings such as hope and confidence are an important prerequisite for sustainable action. In educational work on these topics, it is therefore important on the one hand to give space to unpleasant emotions and to take them seriously instead of ignoring or pushing them away. On the other hand, it is also important to encourage positive emotions. These can promote the remodelling of synapse structures and thus learning processes, enable appreciative and complex relationships and inspire and stimulate sustainable, social action. Verbalising emotions can lead to a more conscious perception and a more reflective approach. It can also lead to the realisation that you are not alone with your own feelings.

This method is about enabling an initial approach to one’s own emotions in the context of the climate crisis and global contexts.

A mindful approach to oneself and the other participants is very important for the method. For the participants, this means paying attention to their own needs and only participating to the extent that they feel comfortable. It is important to remember that this is an educational event and not a therapeutic setting.


The facilitator familiarises themselves with the accompanying text for the meditation. The cards with the emotions (see material for download) are printed out and cut out. It is advisable to print out at least two copies of each card and then have them ready during the session so that all participants have the entire selection available to them.


1. (10 -15 minutes) Guided meditation

The facilitator briefly explains the context of the method and why it is important to deal with emotions in the context of the climate crisis and global inequality. They can refer to the information provided in the background. They then lead them through a short meditation with the help of the accompanying text (see material for download).

2. (10 minutes) Self-reflection

The cards with emotions are then laid out openly in the room and the participants can walk around and take a card.

The facilitator emphasises that people can carry different emotions in their bodies. These emotions can feel stronger or weaker and be more or less conscious. The next exercise is about focussing on the emotion on the card. If the participants do not want to focus on the emotion on the card at the moment, they can put the card back and take another one. As soon as everyone has a card, the participants have a short time to focus on the emotion on their card. How do you recognise the emotion? How does it feel in the body? Where can you feel it?

3. (30 minutes) Open sentences

Then the participants come together in pairs and sit opposite each other for a dialogue exercise. They decide which of the two will begin to speak in the exercise.

The person has 12 minutes to answer the following questions (3 minutes per question).

  • When you think about the world, the society you live in and the natural environment (you can include topics that have been dealt with in previous units, e.g. current crises and challenges, opportunities and processes of change): What are issues, situations or processes that appeal to this emotion (on your card) in you?
  • How do you sense this emotion (on your card)? Where and how do you perceive it? What influences it?
  • How do you deal with it? What do you do when you feel this emotion?
  • What other emotions are you currently experiencing? Where and how do you feel them?

Notes on how to conduct the conversation:

The questions are read out one after the other by the person leading the discussion. The first question is read out first and answered directly. After 3 minutes, the next question is read out and answered, and so on. The roles are then swapped. The person who listened first now answers the questions and the other person listens. There is no „right“ or „wrong“ here. It can help to remember the meditation exercise from the beginning so that you don’t just focus on your head when answering, but also involve your whole body. You can also pause or remain silent for a moment.

The other person listens attentively and focusses their attention on the person speaking. They treat the person speaking with openness and appreciation, do not interrupt them and do not share their own assessment, judgement or opinion. If desired, questions can be asked.

Finally, the participants have 5 minutes to reflect in pairs:

  • How did you feel while speaking? How easy or difficult was it for you to empathise with the emotion?
  • How did you feel when listening? What was challenging? What was pleasant?
  • What did you find interesting?

4. (10-15 minutes) Evaluation

  • Then everyone comes back together and the facilitator asks the following questions: What emotions often come up when talking about the climate crisis and social injustice?
  • Which emotions are easier/ more difficult to access?
  • How do you deal with these emotions?
  • What impact do our emotions have on how we talk about the world and how we act?
  • What opportunities, but also challenges, can arise when emotions are given greater attention in dealing with social and ecological crises?


An abbreviated version of this method is also suitable as an introduction to other methods on the climate crisis and global justice. The emotion cards are laid out in the room and the facilitator asks „When I think about the current situation in the world / the future of the world, what emotions do I feel?“. The participants can stand by the card that applies most and briefly discuss with other participants why they are standing here.

Digital version

The method can be carried out digitally with the following small adjustments:

  • 1. Guided meditation: For the meditation, the participants can find a comfortable place in their respective location, possibly out of sight of the camera.
  • 2. Self-reflection: The emotion cards can be sent to everyone as a document or visualised on an online whiteboard.
  • 3. Open sentences: These take place in breakout rooms of 2 people each. The questions are shared beforehand via the chat. The person listening keeps an eye on the time and asks the questions from the chat one after the other. They then switch independently. In the online format, this exercise requires a higher degree of self-organisation on the part of the participants. For less experienced groups, it is advisable to meet briefly in the main room when changing the person speaking and before reflecting in pairs, to clarify any questions or uncertainties and then return to the breakout rooms.

The tips and notes for facilitators should be followed with care when using the digital version of the method. Here too, a certain level of trust between the participants and the facilitator is a prerequisite for the method. The digital space can feel less trusting for some participants. The atmosphere in the digital space can be more difficult for the facilitator to grasp. At the same time, the digital space offers low-threshold opportunities for participants to take care of themselves and, if necessary, withdraw from the exercise.

Tips and notes for facilitators

This exercise requires the participants to trust the group and the facilitator. Depending on the target group, it is possible that participants may not have consciously dealt with their own emotions before. It is therefore important to briefly explain beforehand what will happen during the exercise and to emphasise that the participants should participate to the extent that they feel comfortable.

The guided meditation offers an opportunity to strengthen the participants‘ awareness of themselves and the world around them. The accompanying text (see material for download) can be individually changed or adapted by the facilitator. There should be enough time between each sentence for breathing and awareness.

For some target groups, it can be challenging to talk about their own emotions for a longer period of time. If necessary, the questions can be reduced in point 3. of the method. Open sentences and the time per person limited to a total of 5 minutes.


  • Own adaptation based on the „Open sentences“ method, in: Macy, Joanna; Chris Johnstone, Chris: Hoffnung durch Handeln: Dem Chaos standhalten, ohne verrückt zu werden. Paderborn: Junfermann, S. 72
  • Blum, J. (2021): Transformatives Lernen durch Engagement. Ein Handbuch für Kooperationsprojekte zwischen Schulen und außerschulischen Akteur*innen im Kontext von Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung. Umweltbundesamt. https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/1410/publikationen/final_hauptdok_uba_handbuch_transformatives_lernen_bfrei.pdf (14.01.24)

  • Grund, J. / Brock, A. (2019): Why We Should Empty Pandora’s Box to Create a Sustainable Future: Hope, Sustainability and its Implications for Education. Sustainability, 11, 893.

  • van Bronswijk, K. / Hausmann, C. (Hrsg.) ( 2022): Climate Emotions. Klimakrise und Psychische Gesundheit. Gießen: Psycho-Sozial Verlag

  • Waldow-Meier, S. (2022): Zwischen Zukunftsangst und Zukunftsmut. Zur Rolle von Emotionen in der Auseinandersetzung mit gegenwärtigen Krisen und antizipierter Unsicherheit von Zukunft, Gerhard de Haan Verlag.