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Understanding Emotions

Emotions, or feelings, are your spontaneous physiological responses to your interpretation of whatever your senses are taking in. (Often referred to as sensory data, this is the information you absorb with your sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch.)

Emotions occur within you.

We experience changes in our body when emotions are active. This can be reflected by a change in heart rate, blood flow, and hormonal activity.

Six Basic Emotions

Across cultures we recognize six basic emotions:

  1. Happiness

  2. Sadness

  3. Anger

  4. Fear

  5. Disgust

  6. Surprise

Other emotions include:

  • Annoyance

  • Anxious

  • Ashamed

  • Blissful

  • Calm

  • Cautious

  • Comfortable

  • Connected

  • Content

  • Disappointed

  • Discouraged

  • Eager

  • Elated

  • Embarrassed

  • Encouraged

  • Enthusiastic

  • Envious

  • Excited

  • Frightened

  • Frustrated

  • Glad

  • Guilty

  • Hurt

  • Irritated

  • Jealous

  • Joyful

  • Numb

  • Peaceful

  • Pleased

  • Proud

  • Relieved

  • Resentful

  • Satisfied

  • Scared

  • Terrified

  • Uneasy

In healthy people, emotions don’t just appear for no reason. They are indicators attempting to get your attention and send you a message. When we take in sensory data that we interpret as negative or threatening; we most likely will feel “triggered” into an emotional response that is unpleasant. If we interpret the data of a situation as positive; you most likely will experience positive and pleasant emotions.

For healthy individuals, emotions are a reflection of experience, usually rational, and often predictable. Additionally, as long as your emotions are not distorted by alcohol or drugs, they will function as an accurate gauge of situations.

The better you know your body, the better you will be at picking up the cues it is sending you. Most emotions are accompanied by internal sensations within the body. A well known example, is someone feeling a sensation in their stomach when he or she is afraid, excited, or exhilarated.

Emotions cannot be successfully controlled by ignoring or denying them. If you have unresolved or deeply rooted emotions that you have repressed or ignored, when triggered, they may signal within you like a strong loud alarm. This means your body is urging you to pay attention to this situation.

Recognizing emotions, for yourself and others, creates a safe environment for relationships, both personal and professional, to stabilize on trusting and fertile ground for constructive problem solving.


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