Identifying Emotions

How are you feeling right this very moment? Do you know what how you are feeling is called? Are you curious, excited, happy, sad, or bored? And do you know why? Sometimes it can be very hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that you are feeling. Emotions come and go. They can be mild, intense, or anywhere in between.

Tons of Emotions

Researchers have argued for years over what the “primary emotions” are considered. The emotions highest on the list include: anger, sadness, fear, happiness, love, surprise, disgust, and shame. Even as simple as these sound, are you able to identify these emotions on an individual’s. 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,sad, or angry. 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. And to help you with that, you must use emotional awareness and simply recognize, respect, and accept your feelings as they happen.

How can you start identifying your emotions? Try some of these:
Make it your personal mission to realize how you feel when you are going throughout your day.

Check how you feel during different situations. You might be excited when you are able to see family or friends. Or maybe you realize its the date of a special occasion, like prom, that had to be cancelled and you are sad. You might be playing a video game or listening to music and feeling relaxed.

When you’re noticing these emotions, also notice how your body feels.

Everyone’s body has different responses to situations. Fear or anxiety may result in a tight chest or shoulders. Or, if you are sad you might have stomach tightness or pain. Embarrassment or happiness might have your face flushed and red.

No judgement.

When you are feeling a certain way, don’t judge yourself or try to make it stop. Feelings are just that, feelings and you can’t always just keep pushing them away and feeling bad that you have them. If you are sad, maybe its time to let some tears flow. Maybe you need to smile when everyone else around you is sad about something. Respectfully take that time for you to feel how you need to feel.

Just sit still.

Sometimes when you experience a feeling, you should sit still and just think through how you feel both emotionally and physically. Don’t jump up and move on to the next part of your day. Spend a few minutes taking deep breaths and just noticing how you feel.

Write it all out.

Create a journal to write down the things you realize in how you are feeling. Writing can help you to be able to process things even more. When you have to put pen to paper, it truly helps you better articulate things.

Share your feelings with someone close to you.

Find that one person that you trust. This can help you to practice putting emotions into words. And it can help you to identify other parts of the emotion that you may not have even realized. Additionally, it can also help you to feel closer to that individual.

Find an Emotion Wheel.

Robert Plutchik was a psychologist that identified a wheel of emotions to illustrate how they can relate to one another. The wheel of emotions identifies his version of primary emotions and shows how each has a polar opposite and how the mixes and intensity of emotions can result in emotions that are labeled differently. For more information, click here to view Plutchik’s wheel of emotions interpreted by Six Seconds: The Emotional Intelligence Network. Just seeing emotions listed out and described can help you to be better able to label how are you are feeling.

Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
Source: Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0



We all experience emotions in a very different way. In turn, we all respond and react differently to situations that bring about emotions. Understanding them and identifying them can help us to have a better relationship with others and help us to have better interactions with others. Download a printable copy of this here: Identifying Emotion Fact Sheet. Check our our video on YouTube with What are Emotions?


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Posted: May 4, 2020

Category: 4-H & Youth, Clubs & Volunteers, Curriculum, Relationships & Family, , Work & Life
Tags: 4-H, Emotions, Identification, Mindful, Mindfulness, Youth Development

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