What types of emotions exist?

There are different authors and theories, but we can consider that these are the basic emotions: anger, sadness, fear, joy, love and surprise.


“Your basic emotions and your body”

Starting from those six basic emotions, add another three that belong to the same family or group. Look for words that represent the meaning of each emotion, that will help you recognize them in your day-to-day life. 

The next step is to locate where you feel them, where in your body you live each of those emotions. It’s a very interesting exercise. We start with an example, continue with your own list and indicate where you feel them:

  1. Angry: anger, _________, ________, where do you feel them? _______
  2. Sadness: pity, _________, _______, where do you feel them? _______
  3. Fear: panic, _________, _______, where do you feel them? _____
  4. Joy: enthusiasm, ________, ________, where do you feel them? _____
  5. Love: tenderness, _________, ________, where do you feel them? ______
  6. Surprise: embarrassment, _________, ________, where do you feel them? _______

We already know the basic emotions, now we will go deeper. Greenberg classifies emotions as primary, secondary and instrumental.

Primary emotions

They respond to our most basic needs but not always inform us properly. They can be adaptive or maladaptive:

  • Adaptive and healthy sadness: as a result of a loss or something that ends.
  • Maladaptive sadness: a present situation makes us relive a deep sense of abandonment and helplessness that caused us a past situation that has not closed properly.

Secondary emotions

They hide our true emotions to make us feel good with our beliefs, values ​​and with our own self-image.

  • Angry: moves away other emotions from our conscience, hide them because they are more painful, for example sadness, helplessness, fear or pain.
  • Fear and anxiety: they arise when you fear that your feelings of anger, sadness or weakness may harm your relationships, and therefore avoid feeling them. But the consequence is that you feel anxious and vulnerable.

Instrumental emotions

We use them to achieve a goal consciously or unconsciously. We intend that people around us react in a certain way when we show those emotions:

  • Tension: showing tension can achieve a lower level of demand from others.

“My other emotions”

Make a list. Search your day to day emotions that meet the criteria set out above. 

  • My primary emotions from today:
    • Adaptive:
    • Non-adaptive: _____________
  • My secondary emotions from today: __________________
  • My instrumental emotions from today: __________________

In any case we must be aware that, whatever they are, emotions indicate needs. It is very important to know what those needs are to give them an adequate response, or to review them.

Do the exercise “My emotional record” to get to know your emotions better.

Do you know your own emotions?

Get to know yourself better to build new ways of perceiving, feeling and acting.

Being able to generate positive emotions to better face life’s challenges.