Feelings and emotions are both vital parts of who we are and the way we process the world around us.
They are, however, not the same. Understanding the differences between an emotion and a feeling can help us handle them appropriately and know how to better care for ourselves.
Emotions are an instinctual reaction generated by the amygdala portion of our brains. They are fundamentally the same from person to person and are evoked as a direct response to our surroundings. Although experts differ as to what they consider to be emotions, most include love, joy, guilt, fear, and anger. The Emotion Code filters it down to 60 emotions, while other practices put hundreds of emotions together into a list of 9 fundamental emotions. They are long lasting, subjective, and can also be subconscious.
Feelings are the symptoms of our emotions—the way emotions express themselves as to the feeling your body responds with. It may be tears of joy or tight muscles with anger. Feelings are also the way we interpret the world around us through our senses. These are typically intense and episodic. Unlike emotions, they pass quickly and are an exclusively conscious experience.
Emotional experiences and the feelings that are generated, can be misunderstood, but cannot be ignored. Feelings are often tumultuous and obvious and can be very helpful in uncovering the less obvious emotions behind them.
Emotions can be repressed and ignored, which can cause problems later on. They are subjective and have the ability to show us what is important to us and why. It takes time and patience to uncover and understand them.
An example of emotions vs. feelings may help you visualize the difference:
The emotion of love for one’s child can express itself through fear for their safety, anger when they engage in unsafe behavior, sadness when they are ill or hurt, happiness for their success, and worry for their future. The feelings that may be generated from the emotions may include: tension from the fear and anger; tears from the sadness or hurt; or a smile for the happiness.
Both emotions and feelings can protect us and help us understand how we interact with the world around us. Emotions have been referred to as “E-nergy in Motion” and are supposed to pass as the experience ends. Many times they do not pass and can become stuck. It is important that we care for ourselves emotionally because unhealthy and misunderstood ‘stuck’ emotions can cause chaos in our body systems and prevent us from living full, healthy lives.
If you are struggling with identifying and expressing your emotions, contact me! I can help you determine the best course of action so that you can live your best life.