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Managing our emotions

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OPINION: Can you name the nine major human emotions*? Comparative psychology tells us these emotions are almost universal across the human race, but most people can name maybe four or five of them – perhaps six on a good day.

We experience all these emotions throughout the course of our lives, so why do we struggle to name them so easily? And how does this lack of knowledge about emotions affect our lives?

Growing up in Aotearoa New Zealand we're never explicitly taught about our emotional states, what to do when we experience unwanted feelings, or how to increase the amount of positive emotions in our lives. It's assumed that we'll somehow pick these up as we go along, but that's not always the case – and there can be serious consequences for those who don't learn how to successfully manage their emotions.

In an ideal world we would learn how to recognise and manage our feelings from those around us. As young children the early attachment relationship with our primary caregiver should provide an arena for us to express our feelings and have these responded to appropriately, thus giving us the basics of our emotional education. But if most........

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