What are Emotions?

-a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.

-instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.

– an emotion is a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a behavioral or expressive response.

These are a couple of definitions I found online. There are many different opinions on what are emotions. My thoughts, it is a feeling that arises from an event(that can be from an experience, a person, a situation). Emotions can be difficult to grasp and understand for some, if they try to suppress or avoid them.

What Kind of Emotions Are There?

Emotions permeate our lives. They are important to be aware of, understand and accept in our lives. There are known to be 6 basic emotions. Happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust and surprise. That seems to be a bit small. I am sure we express more? A study by Alan S. Cohen and Dacher Keltner, PHD recognized 27 different emotions, during their study.

  • Admiration
  • Adoration
  • Aesthetic Appreciation
  • Amusement
  • Anxiety
  • Awe
  • Awkwardness
  • Boredom
  • Calmness
  • Confusion
  • Craving
  • Disgust
  • Empathetic pain
  • Entrancement
  • Envy
  • Excitement
  • Fear
  • Horror
  • Interest
  • Joy
  • Nostalgia
  • Romance
  • Sadness
  • Satisfaction
  • Sexual desire
  • Sympathy
  • Triumph

Some notable ones are missing, like anger, or compassion, but here we get more of a variety of emotions, and some I never even considered, but I like this list. We are complex creatures. The first list seems too simplistic for me. But they are considered basic emotions, so I guess that makes sense, but I like to express that we as humans experience a plethora of emotions.

Emotions Just Are

As the lovely Psychologist and author of Emotional Agility Susan David states, ‘Emotions just are.’ I really love that statement. There are no positive or negative emotions, good or bad. It is all in the way we perceive these emotions that make it that way. We view positive emotions as comfortable and uplifting. We view negative emotions as uncomfortable and difficult. We put them in categories to make it easier for us, but doing so allows us to push away the “negative” or “bad” emotions, which isn’t helpful for us. Happiness/sadness, joy/anger, anxiety/calmness are all emotions that need to be felt. There is nothing wrong with any of these emotions. The way we cope and perceive these emotions is where the importance lies.

Dr. David Burns, a Cognitive Behavioral Psychologist, has an approach I found interesting and insightful. He first asks his patients to confront the difficult emotions, and then asked them to see how that emotions can be useful to them. I thought this was a beneficial approach. By looking at the emotion in a different way. It can help dial down the emotions to a manageable level. For example, stress/anxiety allows you to be alert, it helps protect you from future danger. Sadness shows that you are a caring individual, and you wish the best for yourself and others. Anger allows you to fight for what is valuable to you, it shows that you have standards, it shows there are things of importance to you. Once you look at it in this way. You realize these emotions have value as well. They are necessary as well. The problem is we use these emotions to hurt ourselves and others, instead of helping us, because we assume these emotions are “bad.”

We got to remember that emotions just are. They are here to tell you something. Nothing good or bad. They are there to guide you. To show you what you need to do next. You can use it to hurt you or help you, but it is all in your power. Emotions will never go away, so trying to do so will make it worse. Accept them, and recognize they aren’t there to harm you, they aren’t necessarily there to help you either. They just are, and it is up to you to choose what to do with it.




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