The Five Internal Emotions

The five internal emotions affecting our health.

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TCM believes that our mind and emotions play an important part in determining our wellness. They are the internal factors that affect the proper flow of energy and control internal harmony.




Anger covers a full range of emotions including resentment, irritability and frustration. Anger is found to affect the liver, resulting in the stagnation of liver function. It leads the liver energy to rise to the head, causing headaches and dizziness. Over a long period of time, it may cause high blood pressure and problems with the spleen system.





Joy refers to over excitement rather than the ordinary sense of happiness. When people are overexcited, their body temperature rises quickly, their heart beats faster and is stressed. Heart fire results in agitation, insomnia, palpitations and exerts undue pressure on the other organs. It certainly disturbs the internal harmony of yin and yang forces.



Worry comes from over thinking or too much mental and intellectual stimulation. Any such activities run the risk of upsetting peace of mind and internal harmony. The organ mostly affected is the spleen. It leads to loss of spleen energy, indigestion and loss of appetite. All these can intensify worry and result in fatigue, lethargy, and inability to concentrate and think clearly. When the digestive system is affected, it fails to nourish the other organs and results in organ malfunctions. If the problem is not rectified early, it can cause permanent damage.




Sadness and grief affect lungs. When sadness in not temporary and is chronic, it creates disharmony to the lungs and weakens its functions. This will manifest into insufficient energy to the whole body creating other levels of disharmony.





Fear is a normal and adaptive human emotion. But when fear is chronic, it leads to disharmony in the kidneys. In case of extreme fright, the kidney loses its ability to hold energy and may result in enuresis. This is quite common to children when they encounter fear. When kidney energy is deficient, a whole series of problems affecting the balance of body fluid will occur, affecting bones and marrow and in turn affecting the wellbeing of the brain.  


Mind and emotions have far-reaching impacts on our state of health. Most Chinese exercises like yoga, qigong and tai chi are to train the mind to be in the mindless state. By clearing the mind from thoughts and emotions, the body can reach a state of calmness so that the energies within it can control each other to achieve harmony and self-healing.

Meditation is a known painkiller. A new study has revealed that practicing mindfulness meditation for just four days affects pain responses in our brain. Brain activity decreases in areas devoted to monitoring a painful body part, and also in areas responsible for relaying sensory information.




“We should feel sorrow, but not sink under its oppression.”

- Confucius