What Are Feelings?

According to American Heritage Dictionary Feelings are:
An affective state of consciousness, such as that resulting from emotions, sentiments, or desires.

Our feelings in themselves are not good or bad. They just are. You shouldn’t ever let anyone tell you how you should feel about any given circumstance.

Each person reacts to any given situation based on their past experiences. Our emotions are directly related to adaptive behavior and are designed to increase our survival instinct.

According to American psychologist Robert Plutchik every feeling we have is derived from the following eight primary emotions …

Acceptance – the feeling of being liked/loved just as you are. Giving credence to your thoughts, actions and beliefs.

Anger – a feeling that is oriented toward some real or supposed grievance

Anticipation – a feeling of pleasure (and sometimes anxiety) in considering some expected or longed-for good event, or irritation at having to wait.

Disgust – typically associated with things that are perceived as unclean, inedible or infectious.

Fear – a powerful, unpleasant feeling of risk or danger, either real or imagined.

Joy – a feeling of pleasure; a source of happiness.

Sadness – a state of unhappiness and hopelessness.

Surprise – a feeling of shock due to something perceived as unexpected. (Can be pleasant or unpleasant).

You may note that the eight primary emotions are four pairs of opposites;

Acceptance / Disgust; Fear / Anger; Joy / Sadness; Surprise / Anticipation

These eight emotions can be blended in numerous ways for instance blending joy and acceptance gives us the feeling of love.

Even though we cannot experience opposite emotions at the same time, positive and negative emotions can be blended. Acceptance and Fear leads to submissiveness.


  1. Wes says

    I very much disagree with you that feelings “just are.” We are not born with feelings, they are developed over our lifetime based on events and experiences.
    These experiences develop our attitudes and feelings both consciously and sub consciously. There are always reasons behind every feeling. There are many unhealthy feelings that finding the reason for them can aid in overcoming those feelings.

  2. Cindy says

    Thanks for your comment Wes. I agree that feelings are developed over our lifetime. However we all experience the same feelings at different times in our lives. My point of the article, was that feelings are not good or bad – it’s what we do with those feelings. If I am angry at my husband for not taking out the trash, the actual feeling of being angry is neither good nor bad. However my actions and attitude towards him may be positive or negative. If I yell,it will breed more negative feelings. If I say, “Honey, I noticed you didn’t take out the trash. Is there a reason why?” I will have a different reaction. My attitude and the way I handle my anger will have two different outcomes. Being angry is not bad – it just is. But what I do with that anger is a whole other story.