The Difference Between Emotions and Feelings

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Walking down a lonely jungle path you encounter a tiger. Your body reacts to the presence of this predator by producing in you the emotion of fear. Fear activates the adrenal glands and your body prepares for flight.

You have experienced the instinctual, physical bodily sensation that is defined as an emotion. This emotion is fear a, a response crucial to the survival of the species. The emotion triggers a behavioural response.

Human beings have a brain that stores and processes information. The human memory influences our response to stimuli. The complex mechanism that is our mind is a storehouse of knowledge, beliefs and memories, unique to each individual. This makes human response to emotion a subjective one. The aspect of emotion that involves the response is called feelings.

A person with no previous exposure to a tiger, either through physical contact or visual or aural experience, may experience a feeling of awesome wonder. Wild life enthusiast may feel wildly excited, but for the most part the emotion of fear is accompanied by the feeling of terror.

Though the terms are used interchangeably, there is a distinction between emotions and feelings.

Emotions are the conscious bodily sensation triggered by and event or state of affairs. Emotion precedes feeling. Feelings are the subconscious reaction to emotions that take place in the mind. They are influenced by personal experience, memories and belief.

Feelings are defined as a state of mind. They are closely related to emotions are reflect a person’s emotional state. They are the perceptions of events within the mind.

Emotions control thinking, reaction and behaviour. Emotions can be positive or negative, and the feelings that follow can also be either positive or negative. There is no clear demarcation between the two. Positive emotions and feelings of love, contentment and happiness release certain different chemicals in the body. Negative feelings and emotions release others. The physical well- being of a person is often influenced by the emotional state.

It is important to accept the emotional state brought on by an event or situation and deal with the feelings that are aroused. To express such feelings is to invite physical repercussions. Cancer, arthritis and other chronic illnesses are known to be linked to unresolved emotional issues.

Children who have experienced cruelty at the hands of an authoritative figure, experience fear in the presence of authority. This negative emotion affects their performance in adult life. They cower and close up. Instead of giving of their best, they become failures.

It is essential to understand the emotions that are triggered by a particular situation. Once this is done we can learn to manage our feelings. We respond rather than react. We become calm and confident human beings capable of pursuing our goals unhindered by negativity.

Drivers on busy city roads learn that when the respond the other ‘idiots out there’ calmly, they save a lot of energy that can be used to make their day much more productive.

The old adage of counting till ten before losing your cool is all about giving yourself time to understand your emotion and to manage the consequent feelings. It holds good today too, and make sound economic sense.

Think of all the money you’d save on doctors and psychiatrist bills!!!

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