The Difference Between Feelings and Emotions
People use the words emotions and feelings interchangeably. In a very general sense
you can use them as synonyms. However, there is a clear difference between them,
which is very difficult to understand unless you pay close attention. Emotions and
feelings are the same in a very limited sense. We use both of them to make sense
of the world and our experience, but in different ways. If you read the literature
available on the subject to know the difference, most likely you will "feel" confused
and suffer from disturbing "emotions."
Traditionally, the word feeling is associated with the sense of touch. Just as you
smell good or bad smells, or hear good music, you feel the warmth of the sun or
the coolness of the air. In a broader sense, it denotes any physical sensation you
experience in your body like numbness in your body, or dryness, and sourness in
Finally, it also denotes any mental sensation, impression or effect, you may feel
in your mind, in response to an event inside you or outside you. It is In this respect
feelings come closer to emotions in meaning and significance, and create the confusion.
Emotions denote strong mental states created in your mind or awareness in response
to the conditions that exist in your environment. They arise in response to events
to elicit in you specific behavior or prepare you for them. Emotions help you deal
with the world and direct your relationship with it.
If you are not already confused, let me confuse you further and explain what they
really mean in the real world, or what I understood as their main difference. Feeling
is a physical or mental experience. Emotion is a state of awareness about you or
your environment. In other words, you feel different sensations when you come into
contact with different objects. In the same manner, you also feel emotions in response
to events such cool air, humid conditions, or a dangerous and life threatening situation.
Thus, you may feel good or bad about yourself, someone or something. You may also
feel angry, happy, fearful, sad, depressed, disinterested, uninteresting, unhappy
and so on. In this, you are the subject, your feeling is the mental process, and
your emotion is the conclusion you draw about your relationship with the event.
In other words, your feelings make you aware of your emotions and through emotions
you interpret your experience and perceptions. For example, "I saw an injustice
on television. I felt bad about it. Hence, I was angry, sad, and disturbed." Thus
what you feel about the world or situation can produce in you strong emotions and
let you know how you should respond to them.
However, feelings can also be used as a noun using emotions and mental states to
qualify them. For example, you can experience angry feelings, fearful feelings,
unhappy feelings, happy feelings, sad feelings, disturbing feelings, and so on.
Here, you are using feelings in the same sense as emotions. It is probably the frequent
use of this approach, which makes people believe that feelings and emotions are
the same. As we have seen, they are the same only in a limited sense. You can effectively
use this distinction in daily life to sense your feelings, identify your emotions,
identify the conditions and thoughts that produce them, and use such knowledge to
change your thoughts and control your emotions. Any further explanation, may confuse
you and make you feel angry, annoyed, or perplexed.
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