Quiz: What’s Your Emotional Body Type?

Via Dr. John Douillard
on May 3, 2012
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Emotions courtesy of Mc Knoell
Mc Knoell

 Have you ever wondered why we do the same dumb things again and again in our lives?

Perhaps you are repeatedly attracted to the same kind of partner, or get triggered by your spouse or kids in the same way, over and over again.

According to Ayurveda, we create these reactive emotional responses in our minds in order to feel safe and secure, and to avoid hurt feelings.

Making deep transformational change is a challenge that involves a series of steps, and according to the Ayurvedic model, it starts by knowing your emotional body type.

Join me in the first step of changing old emotional patterns by taking this simple Emotional Body Type Quiz.

Three Principles in Nature

According to Ayurveda, there are three principles in nature that govern the mind and its emotions: sattwa, rajas, and tamas. These three principles are known as the gunas, which means “to bind.” When the gunas are out of balance, they can “bind”—or inhibit—spiritual growth, contentment and joy.

Let me explain the nature of the gunas, and how they affect you when they get out of balance.

1. Sattwa: At Peace

Sattwa is the first of these gunas, or principles. It refers to the inherent nature of the mind to be intelligent, virtuous, loving, joyful, kind and giving for no reason. This is the state children are born in. They do not have a care in the world. They live totally in the moment and function with awe-inspiring enthusiasm, which is why adults are so drawn to them. It is the aspiration of human life to experience more sattwa, as sattwa denotes the fullness of the heart and the freedom of the mind.

2. Rajas: Stimulated

Rajas refers to the qualities of action and drive, movement, stimulation of the senses and emotions.

As children grow up, they are quick to realize that the outside world is not as safe as the one at home. Hurt feelings at the playground or in pre-school can result in our receiving the message that the delicate and fragile experience of being sattwa is unsafe. The mind’s reaction is often to shield itself by engaging in rajasic activities. The child realizes that if they become a good athlete, a straight-A student or the “class clown,” they can feel safe again. Unlike the sattwic experience, this rajasic experience of safety is dependent on an outside influence, namely the attention of others.

In this way, the initial sattwic experience of a full heart and a free mind is replaced by the drive for accomplishment and acknowledgement. As children grow into adults, the dependence on stimulation often leads to a mind that cannot be still and is unsatisfied unless it is buying something new, making more money, falling in love, being praised, or otherwise engaged in sensory stimulation.

Most of us live here, in the world of rajas, continually seeking satisfaction through our senses.

3. Tamas: Withdrawn

Cocoon courtesy of Amin Nasr
Amin Nasr

Tamas, the third mental principle, refers to the qualities of dullness, laziness, and protection.

In an attempt to become satisfied through rajasic activities and drive, the mind burns out. Without the energy to forge on as before, gleaning temporary satisfactions through the senses, we retreat into a safe protective cocoon.

The tamas principle is dull, fatalistic, judgmental, jealous, dark and depressed. It is a retreat into an extreme mindset of safety in which we blame others and the world for our own problems. The mind becomes rigid in its beliefs, creating isolation and dissociation from others. On this trajectory, we can become lonely, bitter, angry and often seek drugs, alcohol or other addictions to maintain the illusion of the safe cocoon.

Once here, it is difficult to climb out and requires the addition of sattwa to offer a glimpse of  the  long lost experience of truth, joy and happiness, and also of rajas, to provide the energy needed for action and change.

* All three gunas have a place in nature, but in our Western culture, we have become so separated from the sattwic principle, that the goal for most of us is to move away from rajas and tamas, towards sattwa.

Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas in Everyday Life

We all have sattwic, rajasic and tamasic moments—this is natural. This questionnaire below will offer some feedback to see if you are drifting away from sattwa and becoming more rajasic or tamasic, as is so common in our culture. If you notice that drift, use your findings, and this moment of honest self-reflection, to inspire a shift back to the joy and love within.

Please take the questionnaire and tally up your scores. Remember, the gunas are always changing and, as such, this questionnaire is not intended to provide a static diagnosis. The idea is simply to bring awareness to the places where we tend to go out of balance. I will then try to offer some strategies to navigate our way back to a more sattwic experience of life.

Your Emotional Body Type Quiz

Circle the answer that best applies to your current experience. Tally the answers to determine your Emotional Body Type.

Sattwa Rajas Tamas
Diet Vegetarian – Fresh Some meat,  processed foods, or comfort foods Excess meat, processed foods, or comfort foods
Drinking or Drugs Never Some Frequent
Sleep Little Moderate Lots
Sex  Drive Low Medium High
Control of Senses Good Moderate Weak
Speech Calm – soft Agitated Dull
Cleanliness High Moderate Low
Work Selfless Personal Lazy
Anger Rare Some Frequent
Desire Little Some Much
Pride Modest Ego Vain
Depression Never Some Frequent
Love Gives Takes Needs
Violent Never Sometimes Frequently
Attached  to $$$ No Somewhat Very
Contentment Yes Sometimes Never
Forgiveness Easily With Effort Holds Grudge
Concentration Good Moderate Poor
Memory Good Moderate Poor
Willpower Strong Variable Weak
Service Frequent Some Rare
Honesty Always Mostly Rare
Peace of Mind Yes Occasional Rare
Spiritual Study Daily Occasional Rare
Meditation Daily Occasional Rare
Expresses Joy Always Sometimes Rarely

*This questionnaire has been excerpted from David Frawely’s book, Ayurveda and the Mind


Sattwa is when there is no need for the mind to provide protection; you are free to be yourself fully. Rajas is that first attempt of the mind to protect and offer sensory or emotional stimulation, creating a temporary experience of satisfaction. Tamas is a more aggressive, emotional attempt to be safe and secure.

•    Sattwa: If your Emotional Body Type is predominately sattwa, then life is good. Remember, one can always chip away at changing some of the rajasic and tamasic qualities that exist.  Remember, being 100% sattwa is the profile of a saint, and not necessarily the goal.

•    Rajas: Excess rajas indicates the risk of burning out, or chasing love and satisfaction with activities that may never deliver what you truly seek.

•    Tamas: Excess tamas usually means you have drifted into a protective cocoon that your mind has convinced you is the safest place to be.

Once you have determined your Emotional Body Type, you can use this information to start moving away from some of those tamasic and rajasic qualities, towards sattwa.

Attachment to Money: Sattwic, Rajasic, and Tamasic Presentation

Welsh Coins courtesy of Community Friend
Community Friend

Money and wealth is a subject all of us have to relate with in our culture, so it poses a good lens for understanding the qualities of sattwa, rajas, and tamas.

Sattwa has no attachment to money because there is no fear. A feeling of total safety and security exists. A lot of money would not make a sattwic person happy, and the lack of it wouldn’t have the power to make them unhappy.

The rajasic mind is somewhat attached to money because the first layers of fear have settled in and the mind latches on to the need for money to ensure a feeling of safety and security, even though it is an illusion.

The tamasic mind is very attached to money—in fact, it is holding onto it for dear life! Feeling very unsafe, the mind holds on even tighter, drifting even farther away from sattwa where true safety, contentment and freedom reside.

In this case, we can ask a few self-inquiry questions to create some awareness around our patterns regarding money. It is interesting to see that, from the point of view of a rajasic or tamasic mindset, you can never have enough money. A sattwic mind has the clear vision to see that money is an illusion and will never make you happy, content or safe.

Self-Inquiry Practice—Ask Yourself:

1. If I let go of my attachment to money, what would I lose?

2. What if I started giving money to charity, even if it is just a little – would I feel better or worse?

3. What if I stopped driving myself to be successful and allowed myself to just enjoy my life – how would I feel?

4. On my death bed, what would I regret more: not making more money, or not playing more?

5. Sometimes, imagining the worst case scenario can help us realize that the reality of a feared situation is usually not as bad as the fear makes it seem.

Imagine, for instance, that you are homeless. As uncomfortable as that would be, you would find resources to help you survive, and ultimately to find your way out of that situation. Along the way, you have no bills or taxes to pay. No debt, no need to get up and work your butt off. You are off the grid. It’s possible to think about that as an opportunity to restart a life that is simple again, without all the stress and strain that come with our civilized culture.

While this is not something we would ever wish upon anybody, knowing that even the worst case scenario is still workable can help us to loosen our grip on the fear.

Moving Forward

This process of self-inquiry can be adapted to any or all of the rajasic or tamasic qualities you may be experiencing. This questionnaire provides the first step for change, which is the awareness that your mind has created this rajasic or tamasic illusion in the first place, in the name of safety and security.

Even issues like not being able to concentrate, poor memory, or that you cannot forgive someone, may be protective mental traits that can be changed. The mind uses these qualities to cover up mental clarity, a great memory, or a forgiving nature, because it has determined through a veil of illusion that you are safer without those qualities of clarity or forgiveness.

Your job—if you decide to do it—is to realize how your mind has hidden the experience of your true, joyful, happy, and most powerful self in the name of safety. It is time to take that risk of experiencing life fully by chipping away at the qualities that are serving you no longer—one step at a time.

A Yogi’s Healthy Diet Guide According to Ayurvedic Principles.
Ayurveda’s List of Incompatible Foods: Things that Don’t Go Together.


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Editor: Kate Bartolotta


About Dr. John Douillard

Dr. John Douillard, DC, CAP is a globally recognized leader in the fields of natural health, Ayurveda and sports medicine. Over the past 30 years, he’s helped over 100,000 patients repair their digestive system and eat wheat and dairy again. He is the creator of LifeSpa.com, a leading Ayurvedic health and wellness resource on the web with over 6 million views on YouTube. LifeSpa is evolving the way Ayurveda is understood around the world with over 1000 articles and videos proving ancient wisdom backed by modern science. Dr. John is the former Director of Player Development and nutrition advisor for the New Jersey Nets NBA team, author of six books, a repeat guest on the Dr. Oz show, and has been featured in Woman’s World Magazine, Yoga Journal, the Huffington Post and dozens of other publications. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Receive his valuable health reports in your inbox - sign up for free! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- For information on Dr. John's newest book, Eat Wheat, please visit eatwheat.lifespa.com, LifeSpa.com and connect with Dr. Douillard on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Eat Wheat is now available in bookstores. It can be ordered from Amazon, eatwheat.lifespa.com and all major booksellers.


15 Responses to “Quiz: What’s Your Emotional Body Type?”

  1. […] We blame others for making us react in unfavorable ways. Sometimes we can control our reaction so it is invisible to others, but the internal reaction is still there. No one likes to feel triggers and we certainly don’t like to react to them, but the experience of having them is as valuable as gold. […]

  2. […] A right brained person underestimates time, likes social activities, is spontaneous, wants to get a feeling for the situation and is comfortable wandering around in search of a solution. They may see the […]

  3. @TifanyLee says:

    This article's use of the quiz really helped me to be clear about where my focus has been aimed. I read the article and made a judgement about my emotional body type, but the quiz showed me that I am acting as another. The great detail that Dr. Douillard uses really helped me to refine my understanding of myself.

    Thank yOU!

  4. Linda says:

    So… low sex drive is the optimal state?

  5. priyanka says:

    fantastic article. thanks for sharing. am pretty sure the results of my quiz were quite accurate. fun too..

  6. dagaz says:

    This was and interesting and insightful article but as a former social worker I can tell you that being homeless is incredibly stressful to one's system. A homeless individual has a full-time job just to figure out meals, transportation, clothes, shower, shelter, restroom etc. I know the point was to think about "what if you had none of the responsibilities you have now?" but trust me, homelessness is the opposite of Sattwa. Other than that one thing the article was very cool though!

  7. NoFearOfAttachment says:

    What's with all the impugning of "Western culture"? The three states he describes mirror the Freudian Id, ego and superego. If websites and practitioners like these would cooperate with the science of western medicine rather than make it a bogeyman (for what I think is the purpose of taking an emotional shortcut to try and fortify their position) medicine would make great strides. Ayurvedic and holistic practitioners and champions often dismiss their critics as 'skeptics' but what is the motivation for alternative treatments other than a monolithic skepticism of all the progress and discoveries of conventional medicine?

  8. NotVeg-StillSattwic says:

    What I find trouble with this article, as well as many ayurvedic teachings, is the assumption that to be Sattwic, one must follow a vegetarian diet.

    Many individuals may feel and function best when eating an ancestral diet of fresh foods and meat. We westerners do not have the SAME ancestral makeup as the Indian ancestors who developed Ayurveda. Therefore, applying a mass generalization to all populations that to be Sattwic, one must eat a certain way is a gross assumption.

  9. NotVeg-StillSattwic says:

    Correction: "troublesome about", not "trouble with"

  10. Ashleigh Clark says:

    Becoming a vegan is necessary if you want to become more enlightened and moral, unless if you live a tribal or nomadic life where you don't have access to enough edible plants.

  11. Gopikrishna Kannan says:

    Money has no relative context with any of these Gunas. It is purely the conditioning of mind, influenced by its external factors.

  12. Elena G. says:

    Something interesting to think about when considering a vegetarian diet these days… If it isn't organic then it probably was harvested by underpaid workers who work like slaves and go home to barely anything at all. How is that promoting goodness and peace? Eating meat is natural. Look at nature. The lion does not hesitate to eat the lamb, the cat doesn't hesitate to eat the mouse, the bird and the worm, etc… There is nothing more peaceful than following nature's plan. If we weren't meant to eat it, we wouldn't.. Plenty of animals are herbivores. Now eating it in excess… that, to me, is the problem.

  13. Sayoni Nyakoon says:

    I agree. I don't see what's wrong with having a high libido and getting a decent amount of sleep.

  14. arnulfo elias says:

    i do not understand this type of doctrine: sorry, i am happy with my life these concepts does not apply to me!