Emotions are natural human reactions. Everyone experiences joy and anger, sadness and fear, love and happiness. Are emotions different from feelings, and why do they matter? They are effectively two sides of a coin, but there are distinct differences. Gaining an understanding of this will help you change your unhealthy behaviors and achieve peace.
Emotions Versus Feelings
The best way to differentiate the two is to think of your emotions as a physical response and feelings as a mental response. You feel your emotions throughout your body; those emotions cause physical sensations. Your feelings play out in your mind as the mental experience of emotions. Your mind assigns meaning to the emotions roiling around your physical body.
Your emotions are fleeting, but these temporary moments contribute to feelings you accumulate and often carry through life. If you don't take any action to deal with this, you will be locked into a vicious cycle. Your emotions create subconscious feelings, and those feelings trigger a storm of new emotions and so on.
The Subjectiveness of Feelings
Emotions are a universal human experience, and they are instinctual. However, the significance your emotions take on is shaped by your experience and personality. Everyone has different lived experiences; everyone has their own unique personality so, your response to your feelings is dependent on those. They guide your actions, whether it's helpful or not. They guide your engagement with others and influence your thoughts as well.
Understanding this will be key to making changes, as you recognize the outdated perception your feelings are working with. As you build self-awareness, you can easily identify those emotions and feelings, understand where they're coming from. Once you determine their origin, you can acknowledge them and take back control. When you're back in control, you can make a conscious decision to change your life and improve your behavior.
The Purpose of Emotions
The reason we stuff our emotions is simple – it's because they can be uncomfortable. It's something you're taught at a very young age. When you experience a negative emotion you should avoid it. But, positive emotions should be embraced. How many times has a parent or person in a position of power turned around, and told you to improve your attitude? We stuff our emotions because we're taught that it's the only thing to do with those negative emotions we experience. Or, being told not to cry about something when your natural reaction is to cry about it. Emotions aren't just uncomfortable for you; they can also be uncomfortable for the people around you. Sadly, that has created this habit of pushing everything down to ignore it.
Humans want to feel pleasure, so we tend to gravitate towards the things that bring happiness and joy. On the flip side, we despise feeling uncomfortable. We want to avoid pain, and our emotions are a great example of this. You feel a negative emotion, and it triggers a wave of feelings, and you hate feeling it. You don't want to feel that way. However, avoiding your emotions, stuffing them down, disconnects you from what those emotions are trying to tell you. By missing their purpose, you miss out on their value.
Let's look at the possible purpose of certain emotions. If you are feeling sadness, you may withdraw from others, and the purpose of this feeling is to tell you to heal after experiencing a loss. When you feel anxiety or fear, you want to avoid it, you're being told there's a threat and you need to find safety. If you're feeling angry you might want to attack, you feel the need to draw a boundary because somebody is trying to take advantage of you. Feeling shame? You want to withdraw and hide because you seek social acceptance, but you feel as though something is wrong or off with you.
Your emotions are an important function as to what you value. Safety and belonging are two of the biggest feelings humans feel because it's evolutionary. It's how we connect to others, and those are universal.
If you resist it, it will persist. So, acknowledge your emotions, allow them their moment, and work at understanding your feelings. If you need help, schedule a session for yourself or with your partner online at https://www.relationshipsmatterintl.com or call 301-643-5484 today.