No emotion exists as a single psychological state. We experience many emotions at a time. Sadness can be accompanied by empathic pain, confusion, anxiety, and fear. Happiness can arouse admiration and adoration.
Even when we make a call to a single negative emotion in response to a situation, many come to overwhelm us. We simply cannot pick a particular single negative emotion to occur to us in a situation.
What are emotions?
“Emotions are a process, a particular kind of automatic appraisal influenced by our evolutionary and personal past, in which we sense that something important to our welfare is occurring, and a set of psychological changes and emotional behaviors begins to deal with the situation.” – Paul Ekman, PhD
Emotions keep us ready to deal with key events in our life. We experience them instantly, without having to think about them. Also, we do not get to pick the emotions we feel.
But the way we respond to those emotions creates a unique world for each of us. So, if we are to respond sensibly and rationally, and carve out a better world from our perceptions, we must first become more mindful of and familiar with our own emotional experiences.
Negative emotions can make us lose self-love, self-confidence, self-esteem, reduce our overall life satisfaction, and create friction in our relationships.
How many emotions are there?
According to Ekman, we have 7 basic emotions. According to Cowen and Keltner, we have 27 distinct categories of human emotion.
Experiences are the essential ingredients behind our emotions. We can use hundreds, if not thousands, of words to describe even our most fleeting experiences. Since each of us has countless shades of personal experiences, we also have a rich spectrum of emotional states.
According to Paul Ekman, a pioneer in the study of emotions and their relation to facial expressions, there are seven basic emotions. Around the 1970s, Ekman found that we all experience seven universal emotions out of all human emotions. Transcending language, regional, cultural, and ethnic differences, these basic 7 emotions are:
However, according to a 2017 study by Alan Cowen and Dacher Keltner, we experience many more basic emotions than Ekman thought. The researchers defined 27 distinct types of emotion in a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
1. Admiration, 2. Adoration, 3. Aesthetic Appreciation, 4. Amusement, 5. Anxiety, 6. Awe, 7. Awkwardness, 8. Boredom, 9. Calmness, 10. Confusion, 11. Craving, 12. Disgust, 13. Empathic Pain, 14. Entrancement, 15. Envy, 16. Excitement, 17. Fear, 18. Horror, 19. Interest, 20. Joy, 21. Nostalgia, 22. Romance, 23. Sadness, 24. Satisfaction, 25. Sexual Desire, 26. Sympathy, 27. Triumph
Is there a list of our negative emotions?
There are at least two lists of negative emotions, which are those feelings that take away our peace of mind and make us unhappy or even miserable. Here are two lists of negative emotions:
1. List of 5 Basic Negative Emotions
Of Ekman’s seven, at least 5 are basic negative emotions. That is if one counts surprise as “pleasant surprise,” not a rude or unpleasant one.
1. Anger, 2. Disgust, 3. Fear, 4. Contempt, 5. Sadness
2. List of 50+ Negative Emotions
Here is a list of some 50 negative emotions:
Annoyance, Anger, Rage, Fury, Unhappiness, Sadness, Grief, Miserableness, Melancholy, Disgust, Shame, Embarrassment, Fear, Discouragement, Pessimism, Doubtfulness, Hopelessness, Helplessness, Cheapness, Envy, Jealousy, Despondency, Resentment, Bitterness, Worthlessness, Disdain, Foolishness, Hurt, Violation, Miserableness, Loneliness, Disappointment, Neglect, Rejection, Setback, Abandonment, Anxiousness, Apprehensiveness, Hesitancy, Insecurity, Suspicion, Boredom, Confusion, Inadequacy, Frustration, Oppressiveness, Nervousness, Self-consciousness, Concerned, Flustered.
Negative emotions put us at unease. But we acquired them over millions of years of evolution on purpose.
So, we must not ignore the presence of our negative emotions or try to escape them. Instead, as science advises, we must learn to accept them and deal with them appropriately.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes popular science articles on happiness, positive psychology, and related topics.
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