7 Human Emotions

by Mark Ivar Myhre on July 2, 2008

While dozens of human emotions exist, each of us has one of seven root emotions.

(For a general list of all emotional states, go to this page.)


Please read this carefully!!!!  We have MANY emotional states – but only SEVEN ROOT EMOTIONS.  Please understand what I am saying here!!!!

I keep getting letters from people saying ‘why is love not on your list?’  or ‘why is so-and-so emotion not on your list?’



Our root emotion is the one emotion we keep returning to,  and the one we use to explain and justify ourselves and our world.  It holds us back from reaching our full potential.

In other words, it’s not a good thing.

Before I list the 7 human root emotions, it might be helpful to understand a little more about what the word ’emotion’ really means.

An emotion is a package of thoughts and feelings. Nothing more – nothing less.  You experience a never-ending flow of thoughts.  (No surprise there!) But you also have a never-ending flow of feelings.

Out of these two streams – the stream of thought and the stream of feeling – come the artificial labels we call ’emotions’.

Anger is a package of thoughts and feelings.  Fear, joy, happiness, sadness; they’re all labels we use to try to explain and understand our thoughts and feelings.  Emotions are labels we use in an attempt to gain some bit of control over what we’re feeling.

Obviously, labels have their place.  It’s good to be able to describe what we experience.  But it’s much more important to understand the streams of thought and feeling.

Let it in: a never-ending flow of thoughts and feelings constantly and continuously bubble up inside you

Now let’s look at those root emotions.

The 7 Human Root Emotions

The root emotions:


One of these seven is your root emotion.

It may be the one you feel the most, but it doesn’t have to be.

Your root emotion resembles an anchor.  It’s the one you ‘return to’ as you go through your trials and tribulations.

You use it to justify and rationalize and explain to yourself ‘why things are going the way they are’.

Oftentimes, it’s the emotion you ‘wallow’ in.  It’s the one you’re most comfortable with.  It’s the one that makes the most sense.

And usually it’s the one emotion you never question:

“Of course I’m angry! Look what they did!”

“Of course I’m scared! Look what might happen!”

“Of course I feel shame! Look at my childhood!”

“Of course I’m lonely! Look at…”

Obviously, all of the 7 human root emotions are felt by everyone at one time or another.  Because thoughts and feelings are a gift, as humans, we have the right to feel and think anything we want.  Nothing can take away that right because it’s a ‘human gift’.

But you’ve latched onto one of those emotions.  You’ve made it more than it was meant to be.

Start by going over the list of the 7 root emotions.  Let yourself feel each one – one at a time.  Like trying on a new outfit.  Give yourself permission to feel each one with reckless abandon.  Immerse yourself.  Fill yourself – fully and completely – with each one.  Let it absorb into your skin.  Imagine yourself as a sponge.

Now here’s the key point:

While a sponge will just sit there filled with water, you can channel that emotion right through you.

Imagine your alimentary canal.  You take food and water into your mouth, the nutritive value is extracted by your digestive system, and the waste passes right through you and leaves your body.

In a similar fashion, you can take in each emotion, extract power and energy from it, and release it.  When you ‘cleanly’ feel any emotion, you’ll always feel more alive.  And it always releases.

As you go through these 7 emotions, look for the one that seems a little too familiar, a little too strong, a little to deep.  Most likely, that’s your root emotion.

Remember – the root emotion is the one you always return to.  The problem is, it’s also the one that can clog up your streams of thoughts and feelings.

As I mention in my free e-book on emotional healing, you have a well-spring inside you.  The thoughts and feelings come through the well-spring.

Well, your root emotion is sort of like a layer of rocks that impede the flow of those streams.  By learning about your root emotion -the ‘heaviest’ emotion you experience – you can work to alleviate its influence.


Will March 23, 2009 at 3:07 pm

… I havn't read you're whole article, although i'm sure it is very interesting, unfortunatly, you have distracted me from my research essay….
But I believe there are also positive emotions?!? I know, crazy right?


Anonymous July 24, 2009 at 2:08 pm

I was thinking the SAME THING
I scrolled down to see if they were going to list any positive emotions ??!!**!!??

Karli November 4, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I ejoyed the to the point dictation of the way to get the emotional root in ones life under control. Identify it and you can change it. Therefore not allowing the clogging thing to clog up your life with the seemingly sticky emotions we all hold one to. Identify the source and you can clear it outta ur life….ye!!!

Withheld September 17, 2010 at 4:42 am

Well, here’s my attempt at looking on the positive side of each of these 7 root emotions. And I agree we all feel them from time to time. May we all do our best to live the majority of our lives on the “positive side of the continuum” for each of these 7 emotions:
Shame. Honor
Anger. Gratitude
Fear. Courage
Despair. Joy
Loneliness. Love
Hurt. Comfort
Pity. Respect

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