It’s intriguing to look into what makes up tick as humans and why.   I always have had a desire to learn more about so many different and complex things and this topic is just one of them.  With all the studies and views into what are feelings and emotions are all about, even though they can uniquely personal thing, it helps us to learn more about ourselves and what we can learn from history and ancestors on how they dealt with them and if the past has any impact on the present..

We as human beings are complex creatures.  Ones thoughts, feelings and emotions are all tied to each other and impacted by things like physical sensations and memories. No one just feels or just thinks. You feel about what you think and you think about what you feel. Feelings and emotions are very similar, but they are not exactly the same and both of them are separate, but tied to, your own unique and complex thought processes. If we humans lacked feelings and emotions, we would be akin to being a foreign inanimate object or maybe a robot devoid of any emotion, feeling and so forth.

Feelings are triggered by external stimuli, whereas emotions come from your mind and soul.  Feelings can include physical sensations as well as mental state, but emotions always come from your mind.  Feelings are considered temporary and subside once the stimulus is no longer present whereas emotions will stay with you for years because they are seated in your mind.  Emotions and feelings are both sensations experienced by humans.

Feelings vs Emotions

Human beings are naturally emotive creatures. We often talk about how we are feeling. Over the course of our lifetimes we will experience millions of different sensations. Even over the course of a day we will not be untouched by feelings and emotions. Often, these two terms are used interchangeably, but there are differences between feelings and emotions that, if known, can help us to understand what’s going on inside a little better.

Feeling(s) could be defined as:  an experience as a result of outside stimuli reacting with one of your five senses or someone’s sensibilities, attitude, or emotional perception (but there so many variations on the best definition of feelings.    Feelings can come from the outside world reacting with any of   our five senses:  warmth, cold, hot, dry, dusty, and drenched.   It can from a physical sensation:  hungry, thirsty, hurt, ticklish, itchy, and tingly.  Or it can come from the result of an emotion:  sad, happy, excited, nervous, disgusted, scared or overjoyed.

Emotion(s) could be defined as:  a state of consciousness in which various internal sensations are experienced. Emotion can be produced by a thought, memory, or external motivator and can often change our physical state.  Because of this, you could say that the biggest difference between feelings and emotions is that feelings have to be triggered by an external motivating factor whereas emotions can be completely internalized.    Emotions, to some, are categorized by degree.   An example would be disgust can be classed as a lesser degree of hatred. However, several emotional theories state that there are five emotions that are similar to all cultures: love, hate, joy, sorrow, and fear.      It has also been said that emotions are long-term states. If you are in love, that emotion will usually last years. Sorrow too, takes a long time to go away. Because emotions are internal you have to change your mind set to change your emotion and this process takes time.

Feelings mean anything that can be experienced via touch, smell, sight or any other sensory organ.   Emotion is used to describe psychophysiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states.       Feelings and emotions are two related concepts that are often confused due to them being similar in nature. Many people use these words interchangeable and they may not be wrong as in many cases these words can be used interchangeably. For example: A person could have happy feelings but this could also be their emotions.

The word ‘feeling’ is derived from the verb ‘to feel’ and means anything that can be experienced via touch, smell, see or any other sensory organ. It then broadened to describe experiences that were not limited to physical sensations. This meant that it could now also be used to explain any type of experience that happens beyond physical, i.e. the feeling of warmth, cold, etc. APA Dictionary of Psychology states that this word is reserved for the conscious subjective experience of emotion in psychology. It simply means that the emotions that are being realized by the individual. Psychotherapy, sympathy and empathy depend on people realizing and understanding another person’s feelings. Feelings are believed to be a state of consciousness that arises from emotions, sentiments or desires. Feelings can be short-term or long-term depending on the type of feeling. For example, feelings of love are long-term, while happiness or sadness can be short-term.      The word ‘emotion’ is used as a generic term for subjective, conscious experience that is characterized primarily by psychophysiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states.  It is often associated with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation. Many branches of science state that emotions are often caused by the release of hormones and neurotransmitters, which then convert this emotion into feelings. Hormones and neurotransmitters include dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin, oxytocin and cortisol. Hence it can be said that all of the emotions stem from the brain, which then sends for hormones and neurotransmitters to make the body realize these emotions, which are then converted into feelings; these feelings are often short-lived. Emotions are considered to long-lived and are believed to be often the driving force behind motivation.   Examples of emotions include affection, lust, hurt, jealousy, etc.

Feelings are often immediate and transient things; we feel before we think. Sometimes the feeling remains, sometimes it doesn’t. You can feel emotions, and you can also feel sensations. You feel cold or hot; you feel uncomfortable or nervous. Discomfort is not really an emotion, it’s just a feeling. You can have feelings about things without having an emotional reaction to them. On the other hand, a feeling can be a complex mix of emotions. The way you feel about your Uncle Tom, for instance. You may feel love, but you may also feel anger or resentment or embarrassment, or a combination of them. Feelings are intensely personal and always near the surface of our consciousness.

Emotion can also be defined as:  an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness;  Any of the feelings of joy, sorrow, fear, hate, love, etc.;  . Feelings are experienced via physical means as well as mental states. However, emotions are often considered to stem from mental states. Emotions are also believed to be scientifically related and go deeper to a person’s mental state and how an individual’s brain works, while feelings are only what a person experiences on the surface. Feelings can also trigger emotions, such as a certain smell (i.e. pie) could take a person back to good memories which can help the brain release hormones making the person feel strong emotions of happiness or sadness. Also feelings are easier to subside, while emotions need to be worked out. If emotions are constantly bottled up they can cause a person to have an emotional breakdown.

Emotions can be described as intensely felt feelings; they are tied to our thoughts, but often war against them. When you are in the grip of strong emotions—a fit of rage or a bout of weeping, for instance—you will have little ability to think clearly. Emotions are powerful things, and may remain deeply seated in our consciousness. Thoughts very often generate emotions. The thought that your partner/significant other has cheated on you generates emotions like anger and hurt. Emotions do not always generate thoughts, though. It is possible to have emotions you are not aware of or cannot explain.

There are those that emotions are closely linked to an arousal of the nervous system with various states and strengths of arousal relating, apparently, to particular emotions. Although those acting primarily on emotion may seem as if they are not thinking, cognition is an important aspect of emotion, particularly the interpretation of events. For example, the experience of fear usually occurs in response to a threat. The cognition of danger and subsequent arousal of the nervous system (e.g. rapid heartbeat and breathing, sweating, muscle tension) is an integral component to the subsequent interpretation and labeling of that arousal as an emotional state. Emotion is also linked to behavioral tendency. Extroverted people are more likely to be social and express their emotions, while introverted people are more likely to be more socially withdrawn and conceal their emotions.  I wonder sometimes if it is possible for someone to be a combination of both an introvert as well as an extrovert.

The word “emotion” dates back to 1579, when it was adapted from the French word émouvoir, which means “to stir up”. However, the earliest precursors of the word likely date back to the very origins of language.   Emotions have been described as discrete and consistent responses to internal or external events which have a particular significance for the organism. Emotions have been described as biologically given and a result of evolution because they provided good solutions to ancient and recurring problems that faced our ancestors.

Kathy Kiefer

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