10 Core Emotions – Explained

Emotions are complex, complicated and extremely powerful.  They affect our moods and affect the choices we make all the time. Feeling and Understanding our 10 Core Emotions leads us mindfulness and care for ourselves.

What are Emotions?

Our emotions are our feelings and they can be complicated and confusing for us to understand, especially when two or more are felt at the same time.  They can come in the physical sensations in the form of body tingles, hot spots, shallow or deep breathing, a lump in the throat or muscular tension and are often triggered by a subconscious reaction to something that is said, happens or thought about or a situation.

Emotions are an essential part of survival, they tell us who we are and show us how we feel about things, it is what makes us choose the things we do and that influence how we act and behave.  But we are also capable of choosing to repress or inhibit our emotions as a way of protecting ourselves to cover how we are really feeling.  The key to life is controlling our emotions so we live the life we want.

How many Emotions are there?​Face of baby girl

Although it is not really known how many emotions there really is,  we have focussed on 10 Core Emotions, sometimes referred to as 10 universal emotions.  These emotions can be multi-faceted, they can blend together, be complex and confusing, especially when we don’t understand why we are feeling the way we are and we need to process these feelings.

The animated movie, Inside Out, explains emotions brilliantly as it describes 5 different emotions giving each a different character to represent an emotion.  Joy was happiness, and there was Anger, Sadness, Disgust and Fear who all represented the emotions in the mind of a young girl named Riley. For children and adults alike this movie provides valuable insights into what it is to be human.

Some of us have experienced ‘black spaces’ in the past. Many will discover these feelings for the first time during the isolation of COVID-19 lockdowns or restrictions. Now is the time to learn and practice mindfulness and self-care on a daily basis. No-one wants to visit, even briefly, the destructive thoughts and feelings of ‘black spaces’. I  understand and acknowledge that I will experience a range of feelings and thoughts.   Living alone during COVID-19 restrictions is the exact time that I need to take care of my mental health and  prioritize doing things for me.

10 Core Emotions Explained

1.  Happiness

One of our earliest emotions is often happiness as our parents give us security and safety, they feed us and provide for our basic needs making us feel happy because we feel loved and cared for, we associate this feeling with contentment and connection with our family.  Happiness can also be described as joy, pleasure, cheerfulness, bliss, delight, gladness, glee, exhilaration and ecstasy.  Thinking about what makes us the happiest shows us what we want in our lives and what we value most.

2.  Anger

Anger is an interesting emotion, it is often misunderstood, when not controlled it’s looked upon as bad, not encouraged and sometimes internalised to cover up the anger felt.  Anger releases our frustrations, it teaches us to fight against injustices and problems we face, it sets boundaries stopping others from treating us badly and allows us to stand up, act and fight for ourselves.  Without anger you allow others to walk all over you.  Anger shows itself as shouting, clenching fists, muscle tension, feet stomping or even breaking things, it can be described as annoyance, irritation, fury, rage, incense.

3.  Sadness

Sadness helps us process grief and disappointment of the loss of something important to us giving us sorrow, unhappiness, melancholy, gloom, misery and can lead to long term depression.  It’s a very complex emotion that can manifest in various ways.  If we look at our sadness in a positive way.  The positive effect off sadness.  Sadness, once controlled, allows us to look deep within to work out the cause of the pain so we can learn from the events.

4.  LonelinessRelaxed woman thinking and drinking coffee

Loneliness happens when we are isolated and in seclusion, being alone makes us feel disconnected from those we love, friends, acquaintances and relatives.  We all have a need of connection with others and when we are isolated, it is loneliness that is meant to encourage us to rekindle relationships with those that mean the most to us.

5.  Fear

Fear is a primal instinct that is a survival tool which is meant to keep us safe.  Fear triggers the fight or flight impulse when we are in danger, feeling physically or emotionally threatened.  We can also feel fear when our subconscious believes something bad is about to happen causing us pain or harm, it also stops us making decisions that could have an element of risk, could challenge us and have the potential for failure and stops us trying new things.  You could feel fear at the thought of bungee jumping, or starting a new business stopping us from trying these.

6.  Anticipation

Anticipation can be described as a state where you are eager, anxious or excited about the expectancy of something to come in the near future, or the preparation for something to happen.  It is about thinking about something before it has happened to be better prepared ahead of time.

7.  Jealousy

Jealousy is an emotion we are know, it’s the way we feeling when someone else has something that we want.  It’s the envy and resentment we feel when we think others are more fortunate than we are.  Jealousy sometimes shows us the insecurity we feel when we think we aren’t good enough or don’t deserve to have what we want.  Jealousy can also shows us what is missing in our life, so we needs to pay attention to this emotion.

8.  Surprise

Surprise is how we feel when the unexpected happens, it can intensify the emotion that is to come.  Surprises can change our perspective on things and make us more curious or alert.  Surprises don’t have to be positive, they can have negative consequences as we are surprised about situations or other people.

9.  Disgust

Disgust is the sickening feeling we feel about something, it is the repulsion that something isn’t how we would like it to be.  It is an intense feeling of dislike or and aversion towards things that aren’t up to our standards.

10. Trust

Trust is the faith, firm belief or conviction we feel in something or someone, it is built on our life experiences and how we see the world.  Debatably trust could be seen as a choice, but as the other emotions, you can feel trust even though you don’t really know the thing it’s ability, or other person.   It is the feeling that keeps us safe, if we can’t trust something we will turn away from it and when we do trust then we can go forward believing everything will be ok.


Understanding our emotions, knowing when they are being triggered and what to do when they need controlling is very important for all of us.  We need to make sure we are actually feeling thing and not internalizing them or covering them up to mask what is really happening in our reality.


I’m Lorene Roberts, a Holistic Counselor, Root Cause Therapist, trauma-informed advocate, and transformation mentor. As the author of “Crazy Stupid Love,” I’m passionate about helping individuals overcome trauma and rediscover themselves. Drawing from my personal experiences with trauma and abuse, I’ve gained a deep understanding of their profound impact on our bodies and minds.

Through extensive studies, I’ve acquired valuable tools and insights that can help you bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Together, we can confront the past, harness the right tools, and cultivate the mindset and support needed for success in life. Join me on a journey of healing, self-discovery, and positive change.


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