How many emotions do we have

Our emotional world: correctly assess basic human emotions

The anticipation of a vacation trip, fear of an exam or sadness after a breakup - feelings are a very elementary part of our lives. But while they are so central, many of us have problems with them. It is difficult for us to consciously perceive feelings, to accept them or to find a good way to deal with them.

The meaning often becomes blurred in everyday word usage. For example, we say "I feel stressed.", "I feel bored.", "I feel exhausted." But are these really feelings?

I feel ... Yes, how actually?

There are many different models in psychology that try to explain emotions and feelings. There are different views when it comes to our “basic emotions”. These are emotions that are virtually “naturally” present in almost everyone, regardless of time or culture. Even if one or the other is included, these are usually represented:

  • joy
  • Anger
  • anxiety
  • disgust
  • surprise
  • sadness

So the statement “I feel overwhelmed” would not be entirely correct. One could ask: What emotion is behind the excessive demands? Are you annoyed and angry by this? Or do you feel scared and worried? Or maybe it makes you sad and depressed? Or are there many emotions at the same time?

Without practice, many people find it difficult to make this distinction. It can be helpful to consciously “save” the word “feel” for emotions in order to train the perception. Then you could say, for example: “I'm overwhelmed at the moment. It makes me feel angry and scared. " Gradually, a more precise feeling for feelings can develop.

What is the whole emotional chaos good for?

Research assumes that all basic emotions have evolutionary reasons and are therefore an integral part of us:

  • They are an expression of our needs.
  • They enable us to communicate with other people.
  • They give us feedback about our physical and psychological well-being.

So emotions have a clear meaning and purpose. For example, fear can be an expression of the need for security and integrity. If we are sad and crying, it can show other people that we are doing badly and motivate them to comfort us. This communication takes place without the need for words. We often feel angry when our limits are exceeded or when we are injured, physically or psychologically. The anger then motivates us to fight back or protect ourselves.

How does depression affect emotional life?

Since a depressive episode primarily affects our emotional world, it is counted among the “affect disorders” (= disorders of mood and emotional states).

During a depressive episode, certain feelings are very common, for example very strong sadness and dejection, increased anxiety, but also feelings of guilt and shame. Also, many people are quicker to become irritable and angry when they experience depression. Other people, on the other hand, describe a kind of inner emptiness, they feel “numb” and cannot feel either joy or real sadness.

Due to the lack of pleasant feelings, the world often appears colorless and dreary or completely unreal during a depression. Many people describe then feeling like an alien in the world and no longer feeling a real connection to others.

And what do I do now with all the feelings?

Even if all feelings have a purpose - hardly anyone likes to experience strong fear, anger or sadness. Almost all of us strive for joy and would like to be always in a good mood. Therefore, we often fight unpleasant feelings with all means: We distract ourselves, swallow the feelings or try to convince ourselves that we are not angry or sad at all. Most of the time, these strategies only have a short-term effect and feelings boil up again at some point, often stronger than before.

Even if it sounds a bit paradoxical: Often the better strategy for difficult feelings is not to do anything against them. If we allow these feelings to be named, and try to look at them with benevolence and curiosity instead of pushing them away, we can often find that they roll over us at first, but then naturally become smaller.

If we listen to our feelings in this way, we also have the chance to understand the needs and impulses behind them. This helps us to see what is really going on and can protect us from doing or saying anything careless that we may regret later. If we keep pushing feelings away, we miss this chance to get to know each other better.

Understand your emotional world better with Moodpath

If you use Moodpath, you can also get to the bottom of your feelings. On the one hand, you will regularly receive questions about this, on the other hand, you can also select feelings in your entries at any time and also save possible triggers in the notes.
The courses “This is how you perceive feelings correctly” and “Understand your feelings better” provide you with additional knowledge from psychology and show you step by step with mindful listening exercises how you can give your feelings more space and perceive them better.

Here's a little insight into what that might look like: