Understanding Emotions

Emotions, often the silent architects of our decisions and interactions, hold the key to a harmonious and successful life. By unraveling the complexities within, we empower ourselves to navigate the diverse spectrum of feelings, fostering resilience, empathy, and a profound connection with the world around us. As such, embarking on the journey of understanding emotions is crucial to unveiling the intricate tapestry that shapes our daily experiences.


  • Emotions are complex experiences involving feelings, physical reactions, and behaviors. Understanding them requires recognizing the inner states of yourself and others – as well as developing healthy ways to manage them.
  • Our emotions are made up of physiological, behavioral, and cognitive aspects; additionally, they are influenced by factors such as biology, social learning, and culture. No matter the type, they all play a crucial role in signaling needs, driving communication, influencing decision-making, and shaping our experiences.
  • The complex interplay of our internal makeup (EQ, past experiences, mindfulness) and external factors (social norms, isolation) makes understanding emotions challenging. However, we can overcome this issue through self-awareness practices and attentiveness to others’ cues.

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What are Emotions?

Emotions are complex psychological states that encompass a multidimensional combination of subjective experiences, physiological reactions, and behavioral manifestations. They are triggered by a multitude of circumstances, and each of them may vary in terms of intensity, duration, and expression.

Emotions are not isolated phenomena; they form an integral part of the human experience, shaping our interactions, relationships, and decision-making processes. Acknowledging their complexity invites us to dig deep into the intricate interplay between cognition, physiology, and behavior that defines the human emotional landscape.

Emotions vs Moods, Thoughts, and Feelings

Emotions, moods, thoughts, and feelings are related, yet distinct concepts that affect our mental and emotional state. Below is a brief overview of each term and how they differ from each other:

  • Emotions are swift physiological reactions triggered by specific stimuli, be it events, situations, or memories. These responses manifest in observable changes like altered heart rate, breathing, muscle tension, or facial expressions. Remarkably, emotions are universal and innate; in other words, they are generally shared and recognized across cultures.
  • Moods, in contrast, embody a broader and enduring mental state, not tethered to a particular stimulus. They are formed by a multitude of factors, including emotions, thoughts, feelings, personality, environment, and hormonal influences. Moods wield a pervasive influence, coloring how we perceive, interpret, and respond to our emotions and surroundings.
  • Thoughts serve as the cognitive underpinnings of our mental processes, encompassing cognition, perception, reasoning, and memory. Steered by emotions, moods, feelings, beliefs, values, and goals, thoughts act as catalysts or modifiers, triggering changes in our states.
  • Feelings are the subjective tapestry of our conscious awareness and interpretation, weaving together emotions, moods, and thoughts. Shaped by a complex interplay of factors including beliefs, values, and goals, feelings hold the power to reciprocally influence our emotions, moods, and thoughts.
DurationShort-lived (minutes/hours)Long-lasting (hours/days/weeks)Fleeting/persistent
Physical ResponsesPronounced and immediate (heart rate, breathing, muscle tension)Subtle and diffuseNone
Can involve bodily sensations & changes
MotivationStrong, drives actionWeak, influences overall energy and behaviorNone
Can guide or influence actions
SubjectivityHighly subjectiveModerately subjectiveHighly subjective
Highly subjective
ExamplesJoy, anger, sadness, fear, surpriseCheerful, gloomy, sluggish, energeticBeliefs, judgments, interpretations, memories
Loved, overwhelmed, frustrated, nostalgic
Relationship to Other ConceptsCause: Thoughts, triggers/fuels emotionsInfluenced by: Various factors (sleep, diet, hormones, etc.)Trigger: Emotions, situations, events
Composed of: Emotions, thoughts, bodily sensations
Role in Our ExperienceDrive immediate reactions and responsesShape overall outlook and influence interpretationsShape and interpret emotions
Combine to create subjective and personal experiences

What Does It Mean to Understand Emotions?

Understanding emotions goes beyond merely recognizing ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ labels; it involves a multifaceted grasp of your own and others’ feelings and employing effective ways to navigate them. Here’s a breakdown of what it means:

Recognizing your own emotions

  • Identifying it: This involves labeling the emotion you’re experiencing, whether it be joy, anger, frustration, or something else. It is recommended that you make use of a diverse vocabulary beyond basic terms to accurately capture the nuances of what’s going on in you.
  • Pinpointing the triggers: What situations, thoughts, or interactions elicited this emotion? Understanding the triggers is crucial for you to anticipate similar situations and manage your emotions proactively.
  • Bodily sensations: Quite often, emotions manifest in physical ways – through bodily cues like a racing heart, tense muscles, or changes in breathing. Realizing these signals will enable timely responses before you get overwhelmed.

Understanding the meaning of emotions

  • Function: Each emotion serves a purpose. For instance, fear prompts caution, anger signals injustice, and sadness invites reflection. As such, interpreting the message your emotions are sending empowers you to respond more constructively.
  • Intensity and duration: Identifying fluctuations in intensity and duration allows you to determine appropriate coping mechanisms.
  • Personal context: Recognizing personal context, shaped by past experiences and cultural influences, aids in managing emotions within a unique situation.

Understanding emotions in others

  • Empathy: Being empathetic is not merely about recognizing – but about feeling others’ emotions alongside them, sharing their joy, supporting them in sadness, and offering comfort during challenging times.
  • Nonverbal cues: People often communicate through body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Being aware of these cues enhances your ability to accurately interpret how others are feeling, even if they haven’t explicitly expressed it.
  • Perspective-taking: Putting yourself in another person’s shoes enables you to see the situation from their viewpoint – hence realizing why they might be feeling a certain way. This fosters compassion and prevents passing judgment.

Managing emotions effectively

  • Healthy coping mechanisms: This is about developing healthy ways to deal with difficult feelings, such as exercise, journaling, talking to a friend, or practicing relaxation techniques – instead of resorting to unhealthy ones like voracious eating or substance abuse.
  • Regulation strategies: Knowing how to calm down after an anger outburst or how to boost your mood when feeling down allows you to maintain emotional balance.
  • Accepting all emotions: All emotions are valid and serve a purpose. As such, understanding them means letting go of the urge to judge yourself or others for their feelings – which is crucial for overall well-being.

Read more: Understanding Yourself – Roadmap to a Deeper YOU

Importance of Understanding Emotions

Understanding emotions is an ongoing journey, yet it is incredibly important. By investing in emotional literacy, you reap benefits across various aspects of life:

Personal well-being

  • Self-awareness: Recognizing your emotions allows you to figure out what makes you feel good and what doesn’t. As such, you are better equipped to make healthy choices, set boundaries, and prioritize self-care.
  • Enhanced decision-making: Emotions, while sometimes seemingly irrational, may actually provide valuable information for coming up with more balanced and informed choices.
  • Stability & resilience: Awareness of strong emotions empowers you to manage them constructively, and to adopt healthy coping mechanisms that help stabilize yourself and deal with stress, anxiety, and anger.


  • Empathy and connection: Understanding emotions sharpens your ability to read social cues, respond sensitively, and forge deeper connections. As such, you become better equipped to build stronger relationships – and to provide support to others when needed.
  • Effective communication: Additionally, the ability to interpret emotions – both yours and others’ – facilitates clear expression and communication, while averting misunderstandings and conflicts.
  • Conflict resolution: When disagreements arise, being able to comprehend your own and others’ emotions is key to constructive communication and conflict resolution.

Overall success

  • Emotional intelligence: EQ – the ability to understand, manage, and respond to emotions effectively – is a cornerstone of success in various fields, including leadership, teamwork, negotiation, and problem-solving.
  • Self-discovery and growth: The process of reflecting and delving into one’s emotions offers insights into their values, personality, and what truly matters to them. As such, it is crucial to fostering personal development and bringing about a more fulfilling life.
  • Motivation and drive: Positive emotions like joy, hope, and excitement fuel one’s desire to strive for improvements. As such, understanding the triggers of these emotions will help guide your goal-setting process and ignite the “fire” to pursue your passions.
  • Mental health: Emotional awareness is a linchpin for maintaining good mental health and overall well-being. Specifically, being able to recognize and address challenging emotions serves as a preventive measure against issues like anxiety and depression.

understanding emotions

When Do We Need to Understand Emotions?

Emotions influence how we think, behave, communicate, and relate to others. As such, they help us to cope with challenges, achieve our goals, and enhance our well-being. Understanding emotions is not just about recognizing labels; it’s a critical skill that empowers you to navigate your inner world, build stronger relationships, achieve success in various aspects of life, and lead a more fulfilling and healthy existence.

Here are some specific scenarios where emotional awareness becomes crucial:

  • When negative feelings/ uncertainties take a toll on our well-being. In such cases, delving into emotional understanding equips us with the tools necessary to navigate these turbulent moments, address the problem’s root causes, and work toward restoring balance.
  • When you need to make decisions, especially in high-pressure situations. As mentioned, emotions carry valuable information that, when comprehended, aids in coming up with thoughtful choices.
  • When you are struggling with self-esteem and confidence. By recognizing and comprehending the emotional undercurrents, one may be better equipped to address self-doubt and foster a more positive self-image.
  • When you are pursuing goals and need an extra push to maintain the momentum. Identifying the positive feelings that drive motivation, such as joy and excitement, is the first step to harnessing that energy and staying focused on objectives.
  • When you need to enhance interpersonal skills. In the realm of interpersonal interaction, emotional understanding is a cornerstone for effective communication and conflict resolution. It enables us to navigate social dynamics with empathy, fostering stronger connections and preventing misunderstandings.
  • When you wish to improve your leadership capabilities. Leaders who grasp their own emotions and those of others are equipped to navigate team dynamics, inspire confidence, and cultivate an inspiring positive workplace.

The Psychology of Emotions


Emotions are complex phenomena, and defining them precisely often proves challenging due to their multifaceted nature. However, here are some key aspects to consider:

1. Subjective experiences: Emotions are primarily subjective experiences, meaning they are felt and interpreted differently by each individual. What might trigger joy in one person could instead incite anger in another.

2. Multifaceted responses: Emotions involve a blend of several aspects:

  • Cognitive component: This refers to the thoughts, interpretations, and judgments associated with the emotion. For example, feeling angry might be accompanied by thoughts like “That person was unfair!” or “They don’t respect me.”
  • Physiological component: Emotions trigger physical changes in the body, such as increased heart rate, muscle tension, sweating, or changes in breathing.
  • Behavioral component: In terms of behaviors, we might express anger through yelling or arguing, respond to sadness by withdrawing, or celebrate happiness with laughter and excitement.

3. Diversity and range: There is a vast array of emotions, some basic (joy, sadness, anger, fear) and others more complex (guilt, pride, awe, anticipation). This diversity equips us to respond to the nuanced tapestry of life’s experiences, allowing for richer personal stories.


Where do emotions come from? The answer is not simple – it involves an interplay of factors as follows:

  • Biological and neurological processes: Emotions find their roots in the intricate network of structures constituting the limbic system within the brain. This network orchestrates the generation and regulation of feelings, with specialized regions like the amygdala and prefrontal cortex actively playing a role in processing emotional stimuli and crafting responses. In essence, our brain serves as the conductor orchestrating the symphony of emotions.
  • Social learning: Various events or situations, including stimuli, memories, thoughts, expectations, and social cues, act as potential triggers for emotions. The lessons we glean from our social environment, the behaviors we observe, and the experiences we undergo all contribute to the emotional palette that colors our responses to the world around us.
  • Cultural factors: Our social background molds the lens through which we express and interpret emotions. Different cultures harbor distinct norms and expectations regarding emotional expression, shaping the way individuals from those cultures navigate and articulate their experiences.

Role & Purpose

Emotions are not simply random occurrences; they serve important functions in our lives:

  • Signal our needs and motivations: Fear prompts us to avoid danger, sadness encourages reflection and support, and joy motivates us to connect and pursue our goals.
  • Facilitate communication: Through facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice, we provide cues for others to get a peek into our internal state – thereby laying the foundation for social interaction.
  • Influence decision-making: Emotions add a subjective element to our reasoning – which may prompt us to come up with better/ worse choices depending on the specific situation.
  • Shape our experiences: Finally, they color our perception of the world and impact how we remember/ interpret life events.


How many emotions are there? Up to now, there is no single, definitive answer to this question. One of the most influential perspectives is the basic or primary emotions theory, which suggests that there are 6 universal and innate emotions recognized across cultures. These include joy, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise – which form the fundamental building blocks of our emotional experiences, serving as the common language of feelings shared by people worldwide.

However, some propose a more streamlined approach, highlighting four primary emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, and anger. Others argue for a broader spectrum, acknowledging countless nuances and combinations of emotions. Specifically, emotions are not confined to a rigid set – but can manifest in intricate variations and blends.

Additionally, some theories introduce the concept of secondary or complex emotions – which are derived from mixtures of primary/ basic emotions. Examples include sentiments like envy, pride, or remorse.

Stages in the process of emotions

Generally, the process of emotional reactions can be divided into 4 main stages:

  • Stimulus: This marks the starting point, triggered by an event or situation – a snake slithering nearby, a lottery win, or the loss of a friend. The stimulus acts as the spark that sets the emotional process into motion.
  • Appraisal: Next, our cognitive faculties come into play as we evaluate and interpret the stimulus. We assign meaning to the situation – determining if it’s harmful or beneficial, expected or unexpected, controllable or uncontrollable. This assessment serves as the foundation, shaping the type and intensity of the ensuing emotion, whether it be fear, joy, sadness, or another.
  • Response: The Response stage is where the outcome of the emotion manifests in three distinct components: physiological, subjective, and expressive. Physiologically, our body reacts with changes in heart rate, breathing, muscle tension, and hormone levels based on the appraisal. Subjectively, we experience the emotion itself, feeling the nuances of joy, sadness, anger, or any other ones tied to the appraisal and physiological response. Expressively, we communicate our emotions through facial expressions, body language, and actions. This comprehensive response creates a feedback loop, influencing future appraisals.
  • Regulation: Lastly, the process concludes with the Regulation stage. We attempt to manage the ebb and flow of the emotions – by employing coping mechanisms like relaxation techniques, seeking support, or altering our environment. In other words, we make a conscious effort to maintain balance, ensuring that our responses align with our goals and overall mental health.

Factors of emotions

Various factors may come into play in terms of shaping how we perceive, experience, and respond to the ever-changing landscape of feelings:

  • Health: The state of our physical well-being, encompassing elements like sleep, diet, and exercise, plays a pivotal role in influencing emotional well-being and our ability to handle stress. Mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, further impact how we navigate and manage emotions.
  • Personality: Our inherent traits and dispositions predispose us to certain emotional tendencies. Some people may find themselves more inclined toward either positive or negative feelings.
  • Past experiences: Trauma, stress, and previous life events all leave imprints on our emotional responses and coping mechanisms.
  • Culture and social norms: Cultural expectations and societal pressures also influence how we express and interpret emotions. Specifically, different cultures may encourage or discourage specific emotional expressions.

Responses to emotions – Approach vs Avoid

Our responses to emotions, the actions and behaviors we engage in when faced with our emotional states, can be classified into two distinct tendencies: Approach and Avoid.

  • Approach responses lead us closer to the source of triggers. This may involve seeking rewards, expressing affection, or confronting a threat. When we experience joy, for instance, an approach response motivates us to pursue positive experiences and share them with others. Similarly, anger compels us to assert our rights and correct injustices.
  • Avoidance responses move us away from the source of our emotions – by escaping danger, avoiding conflict, or withdrawing from pain. Fear, for example, prompts us to protect ourselves from harm and reduce uncertainty. On the other hand, feeling sad makes us likely to withdraw from loss and seek comfort.

However, the relationship between emotions and responses is not always straightforward. In other words, there are instances where we respond to an emotion in a way opposite to its natural tendency (e.g. approaching a fearful stimulus or avoiding a joyful one). This complexity is influenced by factors such as learning, personality, culture, context, or regulation. Some people may learn to approach their fears to overcome them, while others may learn to avoid joy to prevent disappointment. Additionally, some may deliberately change their responses as a form of emotion regulation, aligning their actions with specific goals and strategies.

Models for Understanding Emotions

Over time, several models have emerged to offer perspectives on understanding and explaining emotions. Here, let’s go over some of the most common ones:

  • The Evolutionary Model: A common framework among science communities, this one views emotions as innate and adaptive responses that have evolved to aid human survival and reproduction. Emotions are triggered by stimuli relevant to our well-being, such as threats, opportunities, or social cues. As such, they are the driving force behind behaviors such as fleeing, fighting, or cooperating.
  • The James-Lange Model: According to this model, emotions arise from our physiological reactions to stimuli. For instance, encountering a bear leads to increased heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing, which then generates the feeling of fear. Different emotions are linked to distinct patterns of physiological arousal.
  • The Cannon-Bard Model: In contrast, the Cannon-Bard framework argues that emotions and physiological reactions occur simultaneously and independently. When facing a bear, our brain processes the stimulus and signals both our body and emotional center simultaneously. As such, emotions are not caused by bodily reactions – but by cognitive appraisal of the stimulus.
  • The Schachter-Singer Model: This one integrates aspects of both the James-Lange and Cannon-Bard Models – it suggests that emotions result from both physiological arousal and cognitive interpretation. When encountering a bear, our body responds with arousal, and our brain labels the emotion based on context and expectations, leading to different responses from the same trigger.
  • The Cognitive Appraisal Model: Here, the emphasis is placed on the role of cognitive processes in emotion generation and regulation. How we appraise a situation, whether it is relevant, congruent, or controllable, influences our emotions. Additionally, our appraisal guides how we cope with emotions, including strategies like reappraisal, suppression, or expression. According to this framework, our beliefs, goals, and values do play an important part in shaping our emotions.
  • The Facial-Feedback Model: This one explores the role of facial expressions in emotional experience and communication. When facing a bear, our facial muscles form an expression of fear, intensifying the emotion. Conversely, smiling can lead to feelings of happiness and reduced fear.

understanding emotions

Why Do We Struggle With Understanding Emotions?

Our challenges in understanding emotions stem from a complex blend of internal and external factors. Here’s a closer look at some potential reasons:

  • Low emotional intelligence: One factor is low EQ, which involves recognizing, understanding, and managing emotions healthily and constructively. Those with lower EQ may struggle to identify their own and others’ feelings, express and regulate their emotions, and connect empathetically with those around them.
  • Cognitive biases: Our brain’s tendency to take shortcuts and employ biases when processing information may result in us misinterpreting emotional cues and attributing incorrect qualities to emotions.
  • Negative past experiences: Experiences in early childhood, such as neglect, abuse, or trauma, often lead to suppression or dissociation, making it challenging to connect with and process emotions later in life.
  • Lack of mindfulness: The absence of mindfulness, or being fully present in the moment, is what hinders many people’s ability to observe/ comprehend their emotions and those of others.
  • Social stigma: Social stigma, particularly surrounding negative emotions like anger or sadness, is another reason why many feel ashamed and hesitate to engage in open communication.
  • Social isolation: Limited interpersonal interaction and overreliance on digital communication may limit opportunities to observe and interpret emotional cues in others. For those in such a situation, they may find themselves unable to be empathetic/realize others’ expressions.
  • Emotional unavailability: People who are distant, aloof in relationships, and avoid topics that require openness often have trouble discussing/ understanding feelings, forming close bonds, and relating to others’ emotions.
  • Self-absorption: Excessive focus on one’s own needs and the desire to be “me” limits the capacity to appreciate and understand the emotions of others, resulting in difficulties in relating and demonstrating empathy.

Read more: Living in the Past – The Problem of Dwelling on What Was

How to Cultivate Emotional Awareness

Building emotional awareness, both within yourself and in others, is a valuable journey that has the potential to significantly enhance your life and relationships. Below are a few practical tips and strategies to help you on this enriching path:

Understanding your own emotions

  • Pay attention to your body: Your body often sends the first signals of emotions. Notice changes in heart rate, muscle tension, breathing, and energy levels. For instance, do you feel a knot in your stomach when anxious? A racing heart when excited?
  • Label your emotions: Once you recognize the physical changes, try to think of a word to name the emotion you’re experiencing. Go beyond simple labels like “good” or “bad” – instead, explore more specific terms like frustration, contentment, disappointment, or exhilaration.
  • Reflect on triggers: Identify situations, thoughts, or interactions that consistently evoke specific emotions. By recognizing the triggers, you become better equipped to anticipate and manage your reactions effectively.

  • Do not judge: Emotions are neither good nor bad; they just are. Avoid passing judgment on your feelings; rather, strive to understand and sympathize with them.
  • Seek support: If understanding or managing your emotions becomes too challenging, don’t hesitate to seek help from an experienced coach, mentor, or counselor. They are the ones most capable of providing guidance and support on your emotional awareness journey.

Understanding others’ emotions

  • Observe nonverbal cues: Facial expressions, body language, posture, and tone of voice convey emotions even before words are spoken. As such, make sure to pay close attention to these subtle cues to gain insight into how someone is feeling.
  • Practice active listening: Listen attentively to both the words spoken and the feelings behind them. Avoid interrupting; instead, ask clarifying questions to demonstrate your genuine interest in the other person’s story.
  • Learn to switch perspectives: Put yourself in others’ shoes – and imagine how they might be feeling based on their situation and perspective. Validate their emotions to let them know you sympathize with their experience.
  • Expand cultural awareness: Emotional expression varies across cultures. Therefore, be mindful of such differences when interpreting emotions; what may seem aloof in one culture could be considered passionate in another.
  • Strive for open communication: Foster open and honest communication about emotions in your relationships. Create a safe space for everyone to express their feelings without fear of judgment – this will lay the foundation for the establishment of a supportive environment for emotional understanding and growth.

Read more: How Listening Facilitates Success

Steps to Managing & Controlling Emotions

Learning to manage and control your emotions is a valuable skill that significantly improves your well-being and resilience. While achieving complete control may be challenging, adopting healthy strategies for dealing with both positive and negative triggers can make a positive impact on your emotional health:

  • Reappraisal: Look at a negative situation from a more positive or neutral perspective. For instance, if you fail a test, reframe your mind and see it as a chance to learn or a challenge to overcome.
  • Acceptance: Recognize and allow your emotions to exist without judgment or resistance. If you feel sad, accept it as a normal and temporary state – rather than trying to avoid or suppress it.
  • Savoring: Pay attention to positive feelings like joy, gratitude, or love. If you have a good day, savor it by recalling details, sharing it with others, or expressing appreciation.
  • Channeling: This is about redirecting positive emotions into constructive activities. Feeling energized? Channel it into productive tasks, creative pursuits, or helping others. If inspired, leverage that motivation to set goals and pursue your dreams.
  • Connecting: Positivity is meant to be shared. As such, connect with loved ones and spread joy to strengthen bonds and enrich relationships. Sharing positive experiences is an extremely great way to enhance the overall emotional well-being of both yourself and those around you.

Activities for Understanding Emotions

  • Journaling/ diary writing: Write down your emotions and experiences to delve deeper into understanding them. Ask yourself questions like, “What am I feeling? Why am I feeling this way? How does this emotion impact me and others?” Journaling can help reveal patterns in your emotional responses and provide insights into their origins.
  • Meditation: Practices like meditation train you to observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This creates space for understanding and accepting your feelings. Incorporate mindfulness into your routine through meditation, focused breathing, or any activity requiring your full attention.
  • Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery are all effective techniques to calm your body and mind during intense moments. They promote relaxation and contribute to better emotional regulation.
  • Practice emotional vocabulary: Try to expand your emotional vocabulary beyond basic terms – so as to better identify and express your feelings with greater precision. By doing so, you will become more adept at articulating and understanding the nuances of what’s going on inside you.
  • Read and learn: If possible, explore books and resources on emotional intelligence and understanding emotions. Learning from various perspectives should provide valuable insights into the complexities of emotions and how to navigate them effectively.

Toolkit for Understanding Emotions


We recommend you give this a try: 6 worksheets to help with expressing emotions – by Positive Psychology


  • How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett. This book challenges traditional views on emotions, by proposing a theory that emotions are constructed by our brains based on experiences, culture, and context. It explores how emotions are shaped by predictions, concepts, and goals, offering insights into shaping emotions for better health and happiness.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman. In his publication, Goleman explains its impact on personal and professional success – as well as discusses the importance of self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social competence as key components of EQ.
  • The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You by Karla McLaren. A practical guide to understanding emotions, in which the author delves into the functions and messages of each emotion – plus how listening to, honoring, and expressing emotions effectively contribute to developing emotional awareness, balance, and fluency.
  • The Book of Human Emotions: From Ambiguphobia to Umpty by Tiffany Watt Smith. This book highlights how emotions are influenced by history, culture, and context. It takes readers on a captivating journey through the world of emotions, showcasing their diverse expressions.
  • Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David. David presents a guide to dealing with emotions flexibly and adaptively, emphasizing their role in achieving goals and values. Her work introduces four key steps to emotional agility: showing up to emotions, stepping out of them, walking your why, and moving on, providing practical tips and exercises.
  • Understanding Emotions by Jennifer M. Jenkins and Keith Oatley. This engaging text covers the psychology of emotions from various perspectives, including evolutionary, cognitive, social, and cultural aspects. It offers practical applications of emotional research in clinical, educational, and everyday settings, incorporating the latest scientific findings.
  • The Leonard Personality Inventory by Dr. Leonard Yong. Focusing on measuring behavioral preferences, Dr. Yong’s book introduces the Leonard Personality Inventory based on dimensions like Openness, Neutral, Analytical, Relational, and Decisive. It explores applications in assessing and improving emotional intelligence, creativity, leadership, teamwork, and learning skills, offering case studies, exercises, and software for practical use.

Emotional Excellence at the Workplace Program – facilitated by Prof Dr. Leonard Yong at Menara Public Bank

Emotional Excellence at the Workplace by Prof Dr. Leonard Yong


  • LPI Emotional Excellence: Available for both iOS and Android devices, the app is based on the above-mentioned LEONARD Personality Inventory (LPI), a psychometric tool that measures people’s behavioral preferences. It aims to help users assess and improve their emotional intelligence, creativity, leadership, teamwork, and learning skills. The app also provides users with suggestions and recommendations for personal improvement, as well as chat, report, and mentor features.

Quotes on Understanding Emotions

I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.

Oscar Wilde

Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.

Elizabeth Gilbert

How you react emotionally is a choice in any situation.

Judith Orloff

It is a choice. No matter how frustrating or boring or constraining or painful or oppressive our experience, we can always choose how we respond.

Edith Eger

In the egoic state, your sense of self, your identity, is derived from your thinking mind – in other words, what your mind tells you about yourself: the storyline of you, the memories, the expectations, all the thoughts that go through your head continuously and the emotions that reflect those thoughts. All those things make up your sense of self.

Eckhart Tolle

We don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but no one can take away from you what you put in your own mind.

Edith Eger

understanding emotions

Final Thoughts

Embracing the richness of our feelings equips us with the tools to make informed choices, build resilient relationships, and carve a path toward personal and professional fulfillment. As we traverse the realm of understanding emotions, we not only enrich our own lives but contribute to a more compassionate and interconnected world.

Other resources you might be interested in:

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