Expressing Emotions in Healthy Ways

Understanding Your Emotions

Have you every seen a movie that made you feel happy, sad, or even scared? These feelings are examples of emotions, signals that tell your mind and body how to react.

Emotions are responses to life situations that involve your mind, body, and behavior.

Primary and Learned Emotions

Primary emotions are the basic emotions we’re born with.

  • Happiness is an emotion you feel when you experience pleasant events in life. For example, you do well in school, engage in a favorite activity, or receive a nice gift.
  • Sadness is an emotion you feel when you go through difficult events in life. For example, you get a poor grade in school, you experience a loss, or you have family problems.
  • Anger is an emotion you feel when you are physically or psychologically hurt or feel frustrated and helpless.
  • Fear is an emotion you feel when you sense a threat to your safety or security. You may feel fear if your bicycle starts to skid on a gravel road or someone threatens to hit you. When fearful, you experience a racing heartbeat and rapid breathing, and you may become cold or sweaty.

Learned emotions are a person’s social environment shapes how he or she expresses learned emotions. Examples include love, guilt, and shame.

  • Love is a deep feeling of affection and concern. People can feel love for a person, such as a family member or a girlfriend or boyfriend; for a place, such as their country or a favorite park; or even for an object, such as a bike or a book.
  • Realizing that you have done something wrong can make you feel guilt.
  • Shame is different from guilt because, in shame, a person focuses on the self rather than the action. Feeling guilty can make you think, “I did a bad thing.” Feeling ashamed can make you think, “I am a bad person.”