The Colorful World of Emotions
Color plays an important role in most of our lives - we dress in colors we feel comfortable in and decorate our homes in colors that we like. But our reactions to and preference of certain colors may not be arbitrary and meaningless. Some believe colors can affect our moods, our health, and our inclination to act a certain way.
The use of color to influence moods and thoughts is called color therapy or chromotherapy and was popularized in the first half of the 20th century by Dr. Max Lüscher, a Swiss scientist.
Dr. Lüscher researched colors and their effects on the human mind to create the Lüscher-Color-Diagnostic test in 1947. The theory behind the test is that color preferences are subjective and can reveal much about our true psychological state. The pre-determined test colors included in the test measure 23 personality traits, some of which lie outside the realm of the conscious.
The colors you choose to wear or the items you buy are reflective of your inner state and can reveal your current emotions, long term issues and personality traits. If you are feeling depressed on the day you take the Color Diagnostic test, it will show up on the results. If you take the test again on a happier day, certain results will vary accordingly and some will stay the same, revealing the primary color choices of your personality.
Beyond Dr. Lüscher's version of color therapy, there are many other forms of holistic color therapies using art, precious stones and other materials. A therapist trained in color therapy uses color to balance energy wherever our bodies are lacking, be it physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental. Some of the tools used in color therapy include gemstones, candles, wands, prisms, colored fabrics, bath treatments, and colored eye wear.
The main concept of color therapy is that a person faced with a color choice will unconsciously choose the color that will bring them emotional balance. For instance, if you are feeling lonely you may be more likely to choose red, a color that is identified with energy, passion and love.
Each color has been identified as having certain properties, although there continues to be debate on the true meaning of each color. Some blues are dark and calm while others are electric and exciting. The light that is shining on a color can also change its properties; incandescent lamps will cause a golden or sour affect and halogens flatten and neutralize colors. The direction of sunlight will also change colors; a southern exposure will brighten while a northern light will create a bluer, cooler tone. These facts are important to many interior designers, architects, Feng Shui experts and visual artists. Dr. Lüscher chose his patented colors carefully to find those shades that remain constant in varying shades and light intensity.
According to a chart based on Lüscher's studies, color therapy research, and Carl Jung's dream studies, the emotional properties of colors are:
- Red - needing intensity, wanting to be assertive or forceful, feeling lust, hunger, and desire, looking to stimulate creativity and motivation.
- Orange - feeling friendly, joyful, outgoing, and adventurous, trying to find the undiscovered and new, looking to overcome doubts and make new friends.
- Yellow- a need to feel alert, joyful, or courageous, looking for new solutions and hope, needing change and emotional strength.
- Green - looking for money, assurance from others, wanting to share opinions and be valued, searching for recognition, need to control the environment, looking to withdrawal or retreat into own center.
- Blue - feeling the need for peace, contentedness, and harmony, looking for rest, unity or peace.
- Violet - enjoying charming others, looking for mystic union, an intuitive understanding, intimacy, the erotic, fantasy and magic.
- Brown - searching for grounding and security, looking to satisfy physical needs, matters of the home or "roots", looking for the true self.
- Grey - looking for a shield from feelings, an observer, emotionally distant, wishing to remain uncommitted.
- Black - the unconscious, anxious without explanation, feeling the need for extreme action, fearful or intimidated by a situation.
- White - a new experience, awareness of new feelings, feeling pure, innocent, open, and accepting, cold or sterile.
While each individual's perception of each color may vary, these "definitions" have been generalized to fit most interpretations.
Next time you are looking through your wardrobe or picking out a color for your walls, it might be interesting to think about why you choose certain shades over others. In some cases, it could reveal something about your state of mind you were unaware of. While there is no scientific evidence proving the effectiveness of color therapy, many believe strongly in its powers of insight and healing.
Click here to try a color quiz to see how accurately it identifies your current mood!