Mynlo | The Difference between Emotions and Feelings.

The Difference between Emotions and Feelings

Updated: 02/08/2019

What most of us think about emotions & feelings

The majority of us tends to use the words "emotions" and "feelings" interchangeably to mean the same thing. Yet, if you dissect them more in detail, you will find a few differences between the two. Emotions and feelings are comparable but distinct, just like two sides of the same coin.

After initially going into this topic I assumed they are all the same thing. I had to read many articles to better understand the differences those two have and then I tried to present my new gained knowledge in a simpler language to you.

In a few words. What is the difference?

A big differentiator between, emotions, feelings and mood is time. In the beginning, an emotion emerges attracted by one desire. When the intensity of the emotion and the desire is big enough you dedicate time to think about it. An emotion mixed up with thoughts is a feeling. Your thoughts work with your overall experiences you gathered in your lifetime. This could be culture, history, assumptions, knowledge, bias, etc. This is the reason why two people with the same emotional experience a different feeling. When time passes and you collect more emotions and feelings, a mood is created.

Your body can't think, and therefore your body does not have any concept of time. What is, is just what is. The mind thinks and in this manner lives within duality (a word cannot exist without its opposite), and that includes past, present and future. Feelings are viewpoints whereas emotions are experiences. "Feelings" are mental constructs. Essentially they are ideas, and ideas can last a whole lifetime.

How does the scientific community distinct between those two?

In the scientific community, the conservative definition of an emotion is a facial expression. Happiness, sadness, disgust, anger, excitement, surprise: these and the other basic emotions can be seen easily on the face. This is the viewpoint I used to write my article: List of Emotions.

You will discover that to your surprise this isn't the same list I used to create the emotional tags in Mynlo. This is because, when you decide to write upon your emotions they shift towards the state of feelings. Feelings are emotions which have thoughts attached to it.

Mynlo's list of emotions consists of Happy, Sad, Worry, Anger, Love, Hope, Fear.

They are closer to be feelings than emotions and I will explain further down, why it is so.

Feelings are things, physical or mental that you can sometimes talk about. Emotions are something you've got to sit on all day until you settle down to sleep then they hit you like big wavesand sometimes they REALLY REALLY hurt
Pauline Fife

The Emotion / Feeling pathway

A short descriptive process cycle of emotion and feeling in a human being would be like this:

Emotionally evocative stimulus > Emotion > Feeling > Naming > Questioning the emotion > Acting on the information the emotion provides OR deciding not to act because the stimulus is invalid.

Emotions pass through you all the time, 24/7. Emotions are meant to attract certain desires within you. When you notice them or sense them in your consciousness, this means you gave one of these emotions some kind of importance. The intensity of the emotion is directly proportional to the intensity of the desire. When you give an emotion importance, then this is called a feeling or thought. So in basically, you are feeling an emotion.


What is Emotion?

Emotions originate from the most primitive part of the brain. They are an immediate physiological response to a perceived stimulus. Emotions are the main alarm and motivation system we're born with. Once we understand what has happened and why we feel one way or another, we refer to feelings and not emotions. Emotions don't last very long, on the contrary feeling can last forever.

Why do we have Emotions?

Emotions continuously regulate every living cell to adapt to emerging threats and opportunities. They provide raw data about the world around us that is essential to our functioning.


What is Feeling?

Feelings, on the other hand, play out in our heads. They are mental associations and responses to an emotion that are personal and obtained through experience. There are more than 4,000 feelings recorded in the English language. The vast majority of people can recognize at least 500 of those, however, when requested to list them they could come up with five to ten. The emotion comes first and is universal. What kind of feeling(s) it will then become varies enormously from person to person and from situation to situation because feelings are shaped by individual temperament and experience. Two people can feel the same emotion but label it under different names.

Why do we have Feelings?

Feelings are how we begin to make meaning of emotion; they cause us to pay attention and react to the perceived threats or opportunities. We're acting on emotional data.

The differences in one table

Feelings tell us "how to live."Emotions tell us what we "like" and "dislike."
Feelings state: "There is a right and wrong way to be."Emotions state: "There are good and bad actions."
Feelings state: "Your emotions matter."Emotions state: "The external world matters."
Feelings establish our long term attitude toward reality.Emotions establish our initial attitude toward reality.
Feelings alert us to anticipated dangers and prepares us for action.Emotion alert us to immediate dangers and prepares us for action
Feelings ensure long-term survival of self. (body and mind.)Emotions ensure immediate survival of self. (body and mind.)
Feelings are low-key but sustainable.Emotions are intense but temporary.
Feelings develop little by little.Emotions are instant.

Attribution for the table (made some small changes) to Source: Laughter Online University and the author Sebastian Gendry.

Benefit of understanding your feelings

The secret to knowing who you are and living well begins with knowing the difference between sustained feelings and temporary emotions. Being able to identify how you are feeling has been shown to reduce the intensity of experience because it re-engages your rational mind.

Emotions signal something is happening and the stronger the signal, the more one needs to think about if and how to act.

Self-soothing exercises like writing in a journal, control the rush to act. Strong feelings or emotions, if you prefer, want quick action and specific actions. Fear wants you to run, anger wants you to fight, guilt wants you to stop. Sometimes (more often than not) it's better to think first, decide if you need to act and how to act wisely.

At last, because there are differences between emotions and feelings, there are also various approaches to deal with these experiences. While emotions require separation (for instance, to avoid increasing anger and losing control), feelings need to be heard and redirected.

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Other blog posts:

List of Emotions and their definitions

Emoji Journal. Add the Cute Pictographs to Your Entries.

The Vent Journal

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