What is your emotion

Understanding Your Emotions (for Teens)

How Emotions Help Us

What are you feeling, right now, as you start to read this? Are you curious? Hopeful that you'll learn something about yourself? Bored because this is something you have to do for school and you're not really into it — or happy because it's a school project you enjoy? Perhaps you're distracted by something else, like feeling excited about your weekend plans or sad because you just went through a breakup.

Emotions like these are part of human nature. They give us information about what we're experiencing and help us know how to react.

We sense our emotions from the time we're babies. Infants and young children react to their emotions with facial expressions or with actions like laughing, cuddling, or crying. They feel and show emotions, but they don't yet have the ability to name the emotion or say why they feel that way.

As we grow up, we become more skilled in understanding emotions. Instead of just reacting like little kids do, we can identify what we feel and put it into words. With time and practice, we get better at knowing what we are feeling and why. This skill is called emotional awareness.

Emotional awareness helps us know what we need and want (or don't want!). It helps us build better relationships. That's because being aware of our emotions can help us talk about feelings more clearly, avoid or resolve conflicts better, and move past difficult feelings more easily.

Some people are naturally more in touch with their emotions than others. The good news is, everyone can be more aware of their emotions. It just takes practice. But it's worth the effort: Emotional awareness is the first step toward building emotional intelligence, a skill that can help people succeed in life.

Emotions 101

Here are a few basic things about emotions:

  • Emotions come and go. Most of us feel many different emotions throughout the day. Some last just a few seconds. Others might linger to become a mood.
  • Emotions can be mild, intense, or anywhere in between. The intensity of an emotion can depend on the situation and on the person.
  • There are no good or bad emotions, but there are good and bad ways of expressing (or acting on) emotions. Learning how to express emotions in acceptable ways is a separate skill — managing emotions — that is built on a foundation of being able to understand emotions.

It's All Good

Some emotions feel positive — like feeling happy, loving, confident, inspired, cheerful, interested, grateful, or included. Other emotions can seem more negative — like feeling angry, resentful, afraid, ashamed, guilty, sad, or worried. Both positive and negative emotions are normal.

All emotions tell us something about ourselves and our situation. But sometimes we find it hard to accept what we feel. We might judge ourselves for feeling a certain way, like if we feel jealous, for example. But instead of thinking we shouldn't feel that way, it's better to notice how we actually feel.

Avoiding negative feelings or pretending we don't feel the way we do can backfire. It's harder to move past difficult feelings and allow them to fade if we don't face them and try to understand why we feel that way. You don't have to dwell on your emotions or constantly talk about how you feel. Emotional awareness simply means recognizing, respecting, and accepting your feelings as they happen.

Building Emotional Awareness

Emotional awareness helps us know and accept ourselves. So how can you become more aware of your emotions? Start with these three simple steps:

  1. Make a habit of tuning in to how you feel in different situations throughout the day. You might notice that you feel excited after making plans to go somewhere with a friend. Or that you feel nervous before an exam. You might be relaxed when listening to music, inspired by an art exhibit, or pleased when a friend gives you a compliment. Simply notice whatever emotion you feel, then name that emotion in your mind. It only takes a second to do this, but it's great practice. Notice that each emotion passes and makes room for the next experience.
  2. Rate how strong the feeling is. After you notice and name an emotion, take it a step further: Rate how strongly you feel the emotion on a scale of 1–10, with 1 being the mildest feeling and 10 the most intense.
  3. Share your feelings with the people closest to you. This is the best way to practice putting emotions into words, a skill that helps us feel closer to friends, boyfriends or girlfriends, parents, coaches — anyone. Make it a daily practice to share feelings with a friend or family member. You could share something that's quite personal or something that's simply an everyday emotion.

Just like anything else in life, when it comes to emotions, practice makes perfect! Remind yourself there are no good or bad emotions. Don't judge your feelings — just keep noticing and naming them.

Connecting How you Feel with What it Means

Understanding emotions can help elevate your relationships and change how you relate to the world.

It’s not always easy to recognize a feeling. You might label it anger on the surface, but what is it deep down? Is it frustration, resentment, or maybe annoyance?

Emotions are rarely one-dimensional, and it’s natural to know you’re feeling something but cannot put it into words.

However, understanding your emotions can help you identify them in other people and may enhance how you interact with everyone you meet.

Emotions are complex. A 2017 research review suggests they’re a combination of:

  • physiological responses
  • subjective impressions
  • personal expression

What’s “happy” for one person can be vastly different from what’s “happy” for another, even in the same situation.

What emotion is for you depends on your:

  • perception
  • resilience
  • coping mechanisms

While emotions may be conscious, individual experiences of feeling come from specialized neural activations in several regions of the brain’s cerebral cortex.

In a 2021 review on the brain’s role in emotions, researchers note these experiences occur from the amygdala constantly taking in and evaluating sensory information.

The brain assesses these sensory inputs for complexity, intensity, and other variables that help it assign an emotion.

For example, if your emotional state is “unhappy” at work, something has given your brain that sensory input, whether it’s:

  • pressure from deadlines
  • comments from a co-worker
  • a combination of lifestyle factors like lack of sleep and not eating enough

Understanding emotions fully involves knowing why emotions are a part of life.

There’s a reason why you have both positive and negative feelings.

Experiencing an emotion is your body’s way of relaying information to your consciousness. If you’re afraid, for example, the sensory inputs around you might translate as harmful, and your brain may want you to take action.

This experience of feeling then causes a cascade of other important processes that help you grow, learn, and ultimately survive.

A 2017 review evaluated the importance of emotion from an evolutionary standpoint. The research identified emotion as essential for cognitive processes, such as:

  • perception
  • attention
  • memory
  • reasoning
  • problem-solving
  • learning

These processes are linked to personal growth and the broader concept of learning.

You feel afraid, for example, so you:

  • become focused on a threat (perception/attention)
  • identify the threat for future avoidance (memory)
  • brainstorm about how to escape (problem-solve)
  • contemplate how the threat is dangerous (reasoning)
  • understand consequences and why you’re in danger (learning)

Emotional awareness

Emotional awareness is the ability to identify emotions in yourself and in others.

“Emotional awareness is multifaceted,” explains Dr. Danielle McGraw, a clinical psychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona. “It is knowing that emotions are a physical sensation and knowing where in your body you feel specific emotions.

She adds that most people only use a variation of “happy,” “sad,” or “mad” to describe their emotions, but actual emotions extend far beyond these basic constructs.

Part of developing emotional awareness is learning other ways emotions can present themselves.

“It’s difficult to understand our emotions when we do not have the language to describe them,” she says.

If you feel out of touch with your emotions, there are several reasons this might be the case.

Attachment style

Attachment theory suggests how closely you bonded to your primary caretakers in childhood can dictate your emotional availability as an adult.

“Emotionally distant, unavailable, and rejecting attachment figures throughout childhood is often a common experience for people who find identifying and discussing their emotions challenging,” says Gabrielle Montana, a licensed professional counselor in Fitchburg, Wisconsin.

If your caregivers were emotionally apathetic or withholding, it’s natural you might learn to model that in adulthood.


Roma Williams, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Houston, indicates trauma can prevent emotional awareness by causing someone to shut down emotionally.

This self-protective state can prevent you from feeling emotions or recognizing them in others.

Mental health conditions

“There are certain mental health conditions that can cause someone to be emotionally unaware,” says Williams. “For example, people with borderline personality disorder may have difficulty regulating their emotions and understanding what they are feeling.”

Other mental health conditions that might hinder you in understanding emotions include:

  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • major depressive disorder
  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • substance use disorder

Emotions may have a basis in survival-oriented learning, but they also serve as an important tool for building relationships with others.

The phrase “relate to” indicates you can identify with someone else. Perhaps you recognize what they’re feeling because you’ve recognized it in yourself.

Understanding emotions can help you become more empathetic and can help you establish a sense of trust.

It’s a skill that can also benefit your own mental well-being.

Montana cautions that “When we cannot identify, attune to, or engage with our own emotions, this can lead to:

  • poor self-esteem
  • negative thoughts about self
  • looking for outlets to find some sort of relief

“This ultimately leads to negative feedback loops and keeps us feeling stuck.”

There are a number of ways you can work toward understanding emotions.

Body scanning

When you’re feeling an emotion, linking it to a body sensation can help you understand it.

“Begin with noticing the sensation in your body while watching a movie or hearing a song that you know causes sadness, joy or upset,” suggests Celeste Labadie, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Boulder, Colorado.

Once you’ve identified the sensations, you can ask yourself what they’re trying to tell you.

“Then just listen for something very simple to arise,” says Labadie. “Another way to approach this is, ‘If I were a dog, what would rumbling in my belly be telling me?’ This will really simplify it and get you out of your logical thinking brain.”

Using an emotional wheel

Understanding emotions may be easier if you have a premade list of ones to pick from.

Montana recommends using an emotional wheel, created by yourself or found online, that lists different emotions and their accompanying sensations.

“It may not be that you don’t have emotional awareness, but that instead, you don’t have access to the language you need to describe your emotional experience,” she says.

Watching others

Labadie notes understanding emotions can be practiced by watching others. You can do this through media, like movies, or out in public.

“I recently sat on a bus and watched a woman’s face change dramatically at hearing a crying baby in a nearby row,” she says.

“I silently tracked her thinking, ‘she’s upset, her face is red, her eyes are tearing up, she’s having an emotional response, this baby is bringing up something inside of her, there’s some pain she’s feeling. …’”

Writing it out

It’s not always easy to corner free-floating thoughts in your mind. To help work through understanding emotions, you can use a journal to articulate your thoughts.

Williams explains journaling can help get out raw emotions in several ways:

  1. feels safer than telling someone else
  2. allows you to be judgment-free
  3. prevents thought rumination

“If you are feeling overwhelmed or even anxious, this can be a good indicator that you need to stop and process your emotions,” she says. “I always talk with my clients about the power of writing.”

Understanding emotions isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have words to put to what you’re feeling.

It’s natural to gravitate toward basic emotions like “happy” or “sad,” but most emotions are far more complex, and often have important foundations in everyday learning.

You can identify emotions in yourself and others by:

  • observing others
  • journaling
  • learning about emotions

If you feel as if you’re unable to get in touch with emotions, working with a mental health professional can help you identify underlying challenges like attachment style and trauma.

With professional guidance, you can cultivate new ways to identify and express your emotions that support positive relationships in your life.

You and your emotions: who wins? | Psychology

Firstly, there are bad emotions and there are good ones. Fear, anger, anger, resentment, irritation are, of course, bad emotions. Joy, interest are good. Feeling good emotions is good, possible and necessary. Experiencing bad things is bad and in no case should be.

Secondly, only children openly express emotions (even positive ones). It doesn't suit adults. A distinctive feature of an adult is calmness and equanimity. In extreme cases, an image of joy, enjoyment of life, a positive attitude are encouraged. What is going on inside you, no one cares. The people around you don’t really want to know how you really feel, they offer to calm down (preferably quickly), forget about all the troubles. And if you smile more, then everything will improve by itself! nine0003

Thirdly, negative emotions, if possible, should be shown only to close people. And usually it looks rather unpleasant - a husband, wife, child, girlfriend literally “dump” all the accumulated anger, pain, anger on you. “Well, I still can’t be myself with my relatives?!” is a typical response.

And also this hysterical one: “Emotions literally overwhelmed me, I can't help myself!!! How can I calmly answer if I am overwhelmed with emotions !!! It does not depend on me!!!" nine0003

When I hear this, I get the feeling that emotions, especially negative ones, are such parasites that live with us (or in us), but by themselves. And we really can't do anything about them. And they will die with us.

Well, of course, one can object that emotions are such a complex phenomenon that comes to us from time immemorial... nine0003

And also this: “Once you start to control your emotions, you will turn into an inanimate being, because the natural manifestation of emotions is a sign of a living person.”

So we suffer from loved ones "alive" ...

In fact, everything is simpler and more complicated at the same time. nine0003

First of all, you shouldn't divide emotions so unequivocally into good and bad. After all, if we understand that, for example, anger gives us strength and determination to resist obstacles on the way to the goal, mobilizes strength, reduces fear in the presence of danger, then we no longer have such a negative attitude towards the very possibility of experiencing anger.

Secondly, regular non-expression, ignoring disapproved emotions, in addition to losing ourselves and the well-known psychosomatics, also leads to the fact that we lose the ability to understand them, and then manage them. It's funny - we hold back emotions, supposedly controlling them, but in fact we are going to lose all power over them at all. nine0003

Thirdly, of course, the most important (and problematic) thing is to adequately express your emotions and not scare people with them, including those close to you. The mechanism of taming emotions is quite simple in theory, but in practice it can be mastered. Briefly, it looks like this.

First stage - understanding of the situation . This is the most important point. Here, consciously or not, we choose our attitude, which is transformed into emotion. This is where we can choose the angle from which we look at the situation. "It's raining - that's good because..." or "It's raining - bad because...". Emotions appear different. This stage lasts only a few seconds, and sometimes less. This is its complexity. So, as Pollyanna, the heroine of the famous story Eleanor Porter, taught, every time you ask yourself the question: “What is good about the situation in which I find myself?” Thus, we train by constantly playing the game "This is good for me, because ..." nine0003

At the second stage the emotion unwinds , and here we either give ourselves the right to live it, or we begin to actively slow it down.

At the third stage, the experience of emotion goes on, and it is already difficult to do something with it.

And at the last stage - fading of emotion - all we can do is say to ourselves: "Soon and so it will all be over." And indeed, it will end.

So start from the beginning.

And, of course, the control of one's emotions, the regulation of emotions does not at all mean control over their external manifestation. It is by no means a repression, suppression or elimination. nine0003

Managing your emotions is like driving a car - hard to learn, but what a thrill to drive!

Emotions are always someone else's - yours, mine, his or hers. You are the source of your emotion. Because emotion is a reflection of your attitude to the world. nine0003

Be friends with your emotions!

Tags: introspection, personality psychology, emotions, psychological problems, the senses, negative emotions, positive emotions

Recognize your emotions.

Why is it important to talk about how we feel

Olesya Akhmedzhanova

Emotion recognition is an important skill that helps you cope with any situation. Why is it important? And how can you learn to notice your emotions on your own? We chose advice from the book "Emotional Balance". They will help you understand yourself.

Why it is important to be able to recognize emotions

The ability to identify the primary emotion in a stressful situation will help you cope with the avalanche of secondary emotions covering your head. This may seem obvious or simple, but it usually isn't—especially when emotions come up quickly and unexpectedly. Emotion recognition will help you get to the source of an emotional situation and master it. nine0003

You need to be as honest with yourself as possible. Your goal is to find out what emotions you experienced (both primary and secondary), and then determine how exactly these emotions influenced your actions and feelings in the future.

Emotional balance

Example: Lin's story

Lin returned home from work one evening to find her husband drunk again and lying on the couch. Lin immediately got angry and started yelling at her husband, whom she called a "useless drunk." But he just lay on the sofa, not answering or moving. She wanted to hit him, but didn't. nine0003

A few minutes later, Lin felt hopeless and ashamed. She tried everything to help her husband, but nothing worked. He refused psychotherapy and did not consider himself an alcoholic, and therefore was not going to go to meetings of the Association of Alcoholics Anonymous. Lin felt that she could no longer remain in this marriage if nothing changed, but she did not recognize divorce as a way out of the situation.

Lin went to the bathroom and locked herself in there. She thought about committing suicide and thereby stop experiencing this pain. Instead, she took a razor and started cutting her leg, just to make it bleed. That night, still on edge, she forgot to set her alarm and the next day she was several hours late for work, for which she was scolded by her manager. nine0057

Choose a situation that you clearly remember. Then write the following questions as headings on the blank pages of your diary.

Six Questions

Using Lin's story, here's a six-step sequence to help you recognize your emotions.

1. What happened?

Describe the situation that led you to your emotions. Write down what happened, when and where, who was involved, and so on. Lin could have written, “I returned home to find my husband drunk again. He refuses to accept help and discuss his problem." nine0003

2. Why do you think this happened?

Determine the likely causes of this situation. This step is important: the meaning you give to an event often determines your emotional response. For example, if you believe that someone intentionally hurt you, you will react in a completely different way than if you believed that someone hurt you by mistake.

Lin believes that her husband is an alcoholic, he hates her and regrets that he married her, and that is why he simply put an end to his life and drinks only to hurt her. nine0003

3. How did you feel emotionally and physically about this situation?

Learning to identify your emotions takes practice, but it will be worth the effort. Try, if you can, to identify both primary emotions (provoked by the situation itself) and secondary emotions (provoked by primary emotions). Try to articulate how you felt physically. Emotions and physical sensations, especially muscle tension, are closely related.

Lin's primary emotion is anger when she sees her husband drunk. She then experiences the secondary emotions of hopelessness and shame. Physically, she notices that all the muscles of her face and arms have become very tense, and she feels sick.


4. What did you want to do as a result of your feelings?

This question defines your aspirations. When a person is overwhelmed with emotions, there is a need to say or do something harsh, painful or dangerous. However, a person does not always do this; sometimes it remains only thoughts and impulses. If you can control some impulses, then there is a high probability that you will be able to control others. nine0003

Lin had two impulses that could be very dangerous, even deadly: hit her husband and kill herself to stop her pain. Fortunately, she did neither, which gave her hope that she could control other desires as well.

5. What did you do and say?

Here you must determine what you really did under the influence of emotions. Lin locked herself in the bathroom and started cutting herself. She also yelled at her husband and called him a "worthless drunk." nine0003

6. How did your emotions and actions affect you later?

Identify the long-term consequences of how you felt and what you

did. Lin slept through work the next morning because she forgot to set her alarm and was chastised by her boss, which put her in danger of losing her job altogether.

Say out loud how you feel

To make it easier to recognize your emotions, you can say out loud how you feel, defining each emotion. It may seem silly at first, but this action will capture your emotions and help you pay extra attention to what you are experiencing. nine0003

Describing one's emotions aloud, especially overwhelming ones, can also help relieve emotional distress.

The more you talk about your feelings, the less impulse you will have to do something about it.

You don't have to shout about your feelings. It will be enough that you quietly say about them to yourself. Just find the way that works best for you personally. Tell yourself: “Right now I feel ...” And remember that you need to pay attention to your pleasant, joyful emotions. The more you recognize these feelings and speak about them out loud, the more you will be able to enjoy them. To consolidate this experience, write down your emotions in a diary. nine0003

Coping strategies

People dealing with overwhelming emotions often try to deal with their pain in unhealthy, self-defeating ways because they don't know what else they can do. However, some coping strategies only exacerbate our problems.


Check if the following strategies are in your arsenal:

- I spend a lot of time thinking about past pain, mistakes and problems. nine0057 - I am nervous and worried about possible future pain, mistakes and problems.
- I isolate myself from other people to avoid stressful situations.
- I try to drown out my emotions with alcohol or drugs.
- I take out my feelings on other people, getting too angry at them or trying to control them.
- I engage in potentially dangerous behavior such as cutting, hitting, scratching, pinching, burning myself, or pulling out my hair.
- I abuse unsafe sex, such as having sex with strangers or having frequent unprotected sex. nine0057 - I don't deal with the causes of my problems, such as violent or unhealthy relationships.
- I use food as punishment or self-control, such as eating too much, not eating at all, or making myself vomit to vomit everything I eat.

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