Emotions Defined: A Closer Look at Our Emotions and Our Reactions to Them

A significant focus of the counseling process is understanding and becoming aware of one’s emotions. Particularly the ones that tend to influence relationship tension or individual distress.

Emotions can be challenging and confusing to understand especially when we feel different ones simultaneously.

If we lack the understanding or awareness of what is fueling our emotions, it can be difficult to effectively manage what we are experiencing. In the personal struggle of difficult emotions, relationships struggle too.

A great place to start in this explorative process is by identifying primary and secondary emotions. Primary emotions are emotional responses biologically hardwired in us. The most recognized primary emotions are:

  • Joy
  • Love
  • Anger
  • Interest
  • Sadness
  • Surprise
  • Fear
  • Disgust
  • Guilt 

Secondary emotions are complicated, non adaptive patterns in response to an emotion. Some examples of secondary emotions are:

  • Feeling angry about feeling angry
  • Feeling angry about feeling sad
  • Feeling shame for feeling fear 
  • Feeling anxious about feeling fear

Understanding the deeper feelings that influence secondary emotions help us create constructive and healthy ways to cope. With this awareness we can better communicate our needs with others and hopefully come to a place of acceptance rather than resistance or denial of what we are feeling. 

If you are ready to take a closer look at your emotions and challenge yourself to deal with them in a new way, contact GROW Counseling today.

Written by: Michelle Rathburn