As a clinical therapist, I meet with a variety of clients who experience stress and are motivated to decrease the tension in their lives. Most state, “I know this should’ve stress me out, but…” This invalidates the fact they have the feelings that are present. I very often find myself explaining some basic tenets of feelings, including how we can identify them and recognize that how we express emotion is individual to our own experiences.

We are all born wired with eight primary emotions: anger, sadness, fear, joy, interest, surprise, disgust and shame or guilt. We have hundreds of secondary emotions that help us specify the nature of the feeling. Some are taught to us by our parents, our teachers or our friends, and others are learned from experiences.

Judy Wallace, M.AC, LAT, PPC, is employed with Volunteers of America Northern Rockies.

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