Paint your emotions colorfully

Paint your emotions colorfully

Emotions play a significant role in our lives, and thus in interpersonal communication because in this way other people get information about our inner state and how we might behave. The often asked question is “how are you?” which (again often) leads to the answer “good, and you?” But what do we really feel? What emotion is currently prevalent in our body? Below we will explain what emotions are and how to recognize them.

Emotions are more complex than they seem at first. At first glance, we all know emotions as feelings. However, just as the nose is only part of the face, so feelings are only part of emotions. Emotions are multidimensional, they connect through the body’s reactions to events that are important for its needs, goals or survival. They are subjective because they make us feel a certain way, e.g., angry or joyful. They include biological reactions, responses that mobilize energy to prepare the body to adapt to any situation we need to face. They have a purpose or function, e.g., anger creates a motivational desire to do something we would not otherwise do, such as protest against injustice. And finally, emotions are a social phenomenon. When we experience emotions, we send recognizable facial, bodily, and vocal signals that tell others about the type and strength of our emotions (e.g., eyebrow movements, tone of voice) (Reeve, 2005). Emotion is a psychological construct that unites and coordinates these four aspects of experience into a harmonious pattern.

Recognizing emotions

The emotions we experience can sometimes be unpleasant and sometimes pleasant, so the challenge is to find a way to regulate our own emotions in order to retain their beneficial features while limiting the harmful aspect. The term emotion regulation refers to a number of different processes that regulate emotions themselves. To begin with, it is important to recognize how you feel, that is, to name the emotion. The following guidelines can help you with this:

  • Try to observe the emotion in your body. Sometimes it is difficult to name an emotion, but the path to it can be the experience that a particular emotion has. Where on the body do you feel emotion? What change do you feel? How would you describe the experience in the body?
  • Involve the cognitive part, ie. what goes through your head. What does the situation you are in tell you? If, for example, you think that your “legs have been cut off”, then you have probably felt fear.
  • Try to take the other person’s perspective. What would the other person tell you how she feels? Sometimes we can lose our guiding thought because emotions have overwhelmed reason. While perceiving from another perspective facilitates insight because we separate ourselves from the sensations in our body.
  • Enrich the range of emotions. The basic emotions according to the principle of innateness, the same circumstances, universality and a predictable physiological response are fear, anger, joy, sadness, surprise and disgust. From them arise many other emotions that make up the emotional circle. (Notice the image below.)

Since emotions are an indispensable part of our lives, getting to know them seems very helpful. One way to practice experiencing, recognizing, and expressing emotions is through the media. The movie Inside-Out has prompted many viewers to look inside themselves and look back at their emotions. The plot of the movie includes an insight into the emotions of an eleven-year-old girl with which she manages her world. One of the essential lessons of the movie is that it is better to embrace emotions than to suppress them. We encourage you to watch this movie and to make it an introduction to recognizing your inner world. You can store motivational statements from the movie in the NAOMI application to be your guiding thought for the future.

C:\Users\tonym\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\Emotion Wheel v9.JPG Retrieved from


Reeve, J. (2005). Understanding motivation and emotions. NY: Wiley.


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