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Feelings V Emotions: They’re linked but they’re not the same!

Feelings or Emotions: They’re linked but they’re not the same!

The terms “feelings” and “emotions” are often used interchangeably, but do you know there’s a subtle yet significant difference between the two? Understanding this distinction can be a game-changer for building healthier relationships and achieving Emotional Assertiveness. Let’s toss these terms about a little.


Emotions: The Spontaneous Response
Emotions are our immediate, automatic responses to external stimuli, as well as stimuli created by our internal imagination and thoughts. They emanate from our primitive brain and are central to the fight flight response. They are physiological reactions that occur in our brain and body and begin before we become consciously aware of them. Think of emotions as the raw data your brain processes when something happens. We have four core emotions: happiness, anger, sadness and fear.


Feelings: The Bodily Experience
Feelings, on the other hand, are the subjective physiological reactions to those emotions. They are shaped by our thoughts, beliefs, and past experiences. While emotions are more primal, feelings are how we consciously process and label those emotions. For example, the emotion of fear can lead to sensations and expressions of anxiety, while the emotion of happiness can lead to the bodily experience of contentment and calm.


Common Confusions
It’s easy to confuse feelings with emotions because they are intimately connected. However, recognising and descerning the two can help us understand and manage our responses to facilitate problem-solving. Emotions can be intense and fleeting, while feelings tend to be more enduring and can influence our behaviour and decisions over time.


How to Differentiate Them
Identify the Trigger: Emotions are often triggered by specific events or situations. Ask yourself, what just happened? This can help pinpoint the emotion.
Reflect on Your Thoughts: Take a moment to consider what thoughts and interpretations follow your initial emotional response. This reflection can help you identify your feelings.

Notice the Physical Sensations: Emotions generally prtoduce a physical component, like a racing heart or sweaty palms. Feelings are more about the mental and psychological experience and can help us refine our emotions and associated needs.

Using Emotions and Feelings for Healthy Relationships

Self-Awareness: Understanding your own emotions and feelings helps you respond more thoughtfully and with authenticity, rather than reacting impulsively and defensively.

Communication: Clearly expressing your feelings and needs can improve communication with your partner, friends, or family. Use “I feel” and “I want”cstatements to convey your feelings and needs without blame.

Empathy: Recognising the emotions and feelings of others can foster empathy and strengthen your relationships. Pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues from others. In any relationship, especially where there is conflict of needs, both parties will have feelings that need to be spoken and heard.

Remember, emotions are natural and unavoidable, but how we interpret and express them through our feelings is within our control; so practice self-regulation and self-management. By becoming more Emotionally Assertive, we can navigate our relationships with greater clarity, compassion, and confidence.


So let’s finish with a challenge…


Spend a few moments each day reflecting on a significant event and note your experience. What emotions did you feel, and what did they lead to? How did you respond and if the outcome was not satisfactory, what would you do differently next time?


With love

TEAM Emotion