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What is Emotional Expression?

Our bodies are hardwired to feel emotions – whether we express them or not is our choice. Feeling sadness, anger or joy are natural responses to all the events our brains process every day. Throughout history, emotions have played a big role in human evolution. Going back millions of years, our brains developed emotions to pass along responses to certain events to help preserve the species. It's why seeing a predator naturally makes us feel fear – so we know we need to run to save our lives. Emotional expression is simply the acknowledgement of these emotions we are built to feel. Healthy expression allows us to understand the emotions, truly feel them and move on.

There are six basic emotions humans are born with that we should all be able to recognize:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Disgust
  • Surprise
  • Joy

We need to have awareness of these emotions as they happen. Awareness starts with understanding how they make us feel. It is also important to recognize situations that make them happen. This helps process emotions and let them go in a healthy and productive way. For example, venting or dumping strong feelings isn't always helpful. It can actually cause more harm than we intend.

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