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A Journey To Understanding Basic Emotional States

by Mindvalley April 22, 2019

What is an emotion? When it comes to the emotions vs feelings debate, you may have found yourself asking this question.

In psychology, emotions are mental and physical reactions to a particular stimulus. Something happens and your brain interprets it by sending signals that cause your body to react.

It’s not uncommon for two or more emotions to happen at the same time. And sometimes these feelings are so strong that you are not sure what to do about them.

Here’s how to define and identify different emotional states.

What Is The Emotional State Of Mind?


Psychology defines an emotional state of mind as an effective state. An effective state is an experience of emotions that goes hand in hand with certain physiological changes.

Your mind and body are affected. For example, when you’re afraid, in addition to the psychological experience of fear, your heart will start pumping faster and your eyes grow wide.

It’s widely accepted that there are 6 common emotional states of mind: depressed, anxious, rational, rebellious, fearful, and angry.

And keep in mind that an emotional state is quite different than a cognitive state.

A cognitive state involves knowledge and perception. But an emotional state goes beyond the psychological. 

Emotional responses are instinctive and often include a subconscious component. This is precisely why emotions are so hard to hide and control. 

That said, there are things we can do to control our emotional states. In fact, dialectical-behavioral and cognitive-behavioral therapies suggest there are ways to consciously shape your thoughts to curb the negative impact of emotions.

Think of it like micromanaging your mind to avoid overwhelming emotions. 

The following tricks can help you better manage your emotional states:

  1. Evaluate your current emotional state on a scale of 1 to 10.
  2. Calm down whenever you feel a build-up of emotions. Breathing exercises are great for anxiety, for example.
  3. Figure out the source of the problem. Think carefully about the triggers that set off the emotion.
  4. Look for a solution. Devise a clear strategy that can put a stop to whatever has made you angry, anxious, or fearful. It can be as simple as talking to the person who’s responsible for your emotional state.

different emotional states

What Are The 8 Basic Emotions?


Each emotional state is associated with one or more emotions that you might experience at any time.

For this, it’s best to use psychologist Robert Plutchik’s wheel of emotions.

He classified the 8 core emotions into four pairs of opposing emotions:

  • joy-sadness
  • anger-fear
  • trust-distrust
  • surprise-anticipation

In addition, the wheel uses colors to label emotional intensity.

The best thing about this wheel is that it shows specific relations between two basic emotions. For example, the combination of sadness and disgust creates remorse. The combination of disgust and anger creates contempt.

With this in mind, you can the wheel of emotions to target specific emotions that bother you and find ways to better manage them.

Final thoughts

Emotional states are a normal part of everyday life. Fear, anxiety, and depression are sometimes unavoidable, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t something you can do. 

Practicing some of the tips in this article may help you overcome the emotional states that overwhelm you.

The first step is to be present and aware. From there, you can work on managing your emotional states.


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Are you often overwhelmed by your emotional states? Let us know in the comments below.

by Mindvalley
Mindvalley is creating a global school that delivers transformational education for all ages. Powered by community. Fueled by fun. We are dedicated to ensuring that humans live happier, healthier, and more fulfilled lives by plugging in the gaps that conventional education failed to teach us. We do this by organising real-world events around the world and producing world-class quality programmes in several areas of transformation, including mind, body, and performance.

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