We all have them, we all carry them, and sometimes we just do not know what to do with them! Emotions are complicated parts of ourselves that can cause great happiness and complete despair! By naming and understanding our emotions it may unlock an awareness from within and provide an inner calmness. Quite frankly who does not want that!
Over the years much research has been carried out about our emotions. Some researchers argue that there are 8 main emotions, others say 6 but I am going to go that extra mile and go with 5. There are 5 core emotions that we carry as human beings. The rest have just become extended versions of these 5.
So What are Our Main Emotions?
The concept of core or “primary” emotions is not a new one. It is based on the premise that we, as humans, are “hardwired” with a defined set of basic emotions that have evolved in response to basic survival needs. However nothing is ever that simple is it? We are complex beings and therefore our emotions have inherently become complex too.
Now lets turn that 5 into over 100 hundred different emotions ‘Woah what’ I hear you say… There are three main factors which contribute to the complexity of labelling our emotions:
(1) The intensity in which we feel a core emotion can vary
(2) We can combine two or more core emotions at once
(3) We can mix core different emotions of varying intensities.
We can feel any of the core emotions with differing levels of intensity, and the intensity in which we feel any one of the five core emotions in and of itself establishes a new emotion. When emotional intensity is factored into the equation of labelling how we feel, we quickly expand beyond 5 core emotions into a spectrum of hundreds of emotions.
We rarely feel just one emotion at a time that would make life far too easy! Instead, our emotional experiences are typically made up of feeling a combination of emotions simultaneously. When this happens, the combined emotions establish a new emotion, with its own label.
For example using the diagram above, a feeling of angry and disgust results in feelings of contempt, or a feeling of joy and fear results in feelings of surprise.
Emotions Are Complex – So Find a Simple Way to Describe Them
The problem with simplifying our experiences to only one of the 5 core emotions is that it often negates the intensity or complexity of how we really feel. With the range of emotions growing exponentially due to intensity and our ability to combine and mix emotions, the complexities in communicating to others how we feel also increases.
This is why it is so important to teach our young children about emotions, how complex they can be and how to label them appropriately.. Only when we understand how we use our 5 core emotions can we teach children so they can find the right label to best communicate what they truly really feel. The Disney Pixar movie Inside Out demonstrated the 5 core embodied emotions perfectly!
So How Do We Capture Our Emotions ?
- Try to talk to those closest to you about what you are feeling/thinking.
- Try to write them down in a notebook or a journal.
- Try to capture them in the moment as they appear the negative ones too: sad, fearful, angry. We are taught as young children to repress our negative emotions. It then can make us feel guilty/shamed when we do use them!
- Accept your emotions all of them it makes you more comfortable with them.
- Try to embrace them as they come in and go with what you are feeling.
- Try to not supress them as this will lead to more complex deep rooted emotions.
- Give yourself some space by being kind to yourself. Time to adjust to what you are feeling.
- If your feeling it say so, people always prefer an honest approach. ‘I can’t come to the cinema tonight as i’m feeling really sad because my cat died (own it!)
- Knowing when to express your emotions- self regulation is the key. There is a time and place for everything. Shouting your head off in the middle of Waterloo Station is perhaps not the best way to express your emotions.
- Look at the stressors in your life, the more stressed we become the more havoc stress plays on our emotions.
- Wave goodbye to toxic friends and family, quite frankly if they make you feel less than then its time to get rid of the emotional baggage they leave you with! You are truly worth so much more.
Thanks for reading this blog hopefully it explained a bit about those complicated things called emotions!