Principles of Emotions & Emotional Messages

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Controlling Emotions Through Self-Talk

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Emotions
  • 1:00 Obstacles to…
  • 2:24 Sharing Emotions
  • 3:51 Empathy
  • 4:33 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

Dealing with and communicating our emotions can be rather difficult. This lesson discusses some common obstacles to communication and presents some solutions, like the use of I-messages and empathy.


Talking about emotions can get pretty tricky. Unlike facts and figures, our feelings can't be so easily explained. Despite this, there are some general principles that can be followed when it comes to how we handle our emotions. Today we'll outline some of these principles as we discuss some of the obstacles we face in communicating emotions, how to express our emotions effectively, and how to show empathy for others' emotions.

The Cambridge Handbook of Personal Relationships defines emotions as the physiological, behavioral, or communicative reactions to stimuli that are cognitively processed and experienced. Stated simply, they're the way we feel, they're the way we often react, and they're the way we often communicate. Emotions are a huge part of our lives and our relationships, yet there are some pretty big obstacles that get in the way of us sending out effective emotional messages.

Obstacles to Communicating Emotions

When dealing with our emotions, many of us refuse to give our emotions validity or attention. To use a familiar saying, we just 'sweep them under the rug,' figuring if we ignore them they'll go away. Unfortunately, emotions don't really work this way, so treating them as though they are invalid usually causes more harm than good. Buried emotions can lead to a host of physical problems, from ulcers to high blood pressure and even cardiac arrest.

No, our emotions shouldn't run the show, but they do serve a purpose. As the saying goes, 'Emotions are like kids. You don't let them drive the car, but you don't stick them in the trunk either!' After all, emotions let us know that something is amiss. They also offer a way to communicate to others what is going on within ourselves.

Another obstacle people face when it comes to emotions is we have a hard time naming and diagnosing them. This is partly due to the fact that we don't take the time to really understand what's going on in our hearts and our minds. For instance, suppose you feel like you are being ignored by your closest friend. With this, you decide you are angry. However, is this really what's going on? Could it be that you are actually feeling rejected and lonely? Could it be your anger is really just a mask for your hurt? The ability to properly diagnosis your feelings is key to communicating them.

Sharing Emotions

Having a strong emotional vocabulary will also help you effectively communicate your emotions. But what do we mean by emotional vocabulary?

For this one, let's go back to our friend example. You feel like your very best friend has been ignoring you, and you are really hurt. She is important to you, so the first thing you must do is open up the lines of communication. Like an elementary school teacher would say, 'you must use your words'. However, don't just use generic words, dive into your emotional vocabulary and use words that express the depth of your emotion. Rather than saying, 'I would be sad to lose you,' perhaps try, 'I would be heartbroken to lose you.' In using this stronger adjective, you create a much better picture for your listener.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account