Patient talking with his therapist

Understanding Emotions

While we are all wired differently, our emotions and the ways in which we feel and react make us unique. They allow us to assess what's important in our lives—from the people we care about to the opinions we hold. They may also give us a glimpse into patterns that have stemmed from our childhood experiences.

Learn where emotions originate, how they affect our behaviors and those of others around us, and why they manifest how they do.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many emotions are there?

    While it was previously identified that there are six basic emotions—happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise—that are universally experienced in all human cultures, researchers have now found that there are 27 different categories of emotions.

  • What causes emotions?

    Emotions are influenced by a network of interconnected structures in the brain that make up what is known as the limbic system. Key structures including the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the limbic cortex play a pivotal role in emotions and behavioral responses.

  • Can we control our emotions?

    As human beings, we have the ability to self-regulate, or manage our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions—allowing us to better handle stress, deal with conflict, and accomplish our goals. We can continue to develop our self-regulation skills through mindfulness strategies and exercises.

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