Difference between emotions and feelings

Most of us tend to use the words “emotions” and “feelings” interchangeably to mean the same thing. But if you analyse clearly, you will find a big difference between the two. Emotions and feelings are similar but distinct, just like two sides of the same coin.

An emotion is a physical response that is generated when one views a situation from his/her own egoic perspective. So pleasure and pain are emotions and can be further divided into thrill, excitement, lust, pride, attachment and fear, negativity, mistrust, disgust etc. Emotions are also called moods and flow in the body through the water element which comprises 70% of the body. They are generated in the Swathisthana chakra and are linked to planet Moon. I believe that negative emotions are the cause of most of the diseases.

Feelings, on the other hand are generated in the heart and are related to one’s higher truth or Dharma. It is due to feelings that one does certain actions that uphold his true nature. While emotions are egoic, feelings are something you can choose from the inner depths of your soul. Feelings are the inner compass that help develop intuition. They are related to the air element and associated with planet mercury.

Since emotions are physical in nature, they can be measured objectively by blood flow, brain activity, facial expressions and body stance. Because feelings originate from the heart, they cannot be measured precisely. Emotions are generally predictable and easily understood, while feelings are very subtle.

For the same situation, a group of people will have varying emotions, but the feelings would be same. So if you are watching a cricket match in a stadium, the people who are on the side of the winning team would be happy, thrilled, excited etc and those who are seeing their team losing would be unhappy, disappointed, disgusted etc. But all of them would be ultimately enjoying the match. So this feeling would be common to them and that would be the reason they are in the stadium.

There have been discussions on the difference between emotions and feelings among psychologists, psychiatrists and thinkers. Both of them are influenced by contact with different situations. Let us understand the differences between the two.

• Emotions arise in the physical body and are basically mental associations to a situation. They are subjective and are influenced by your personal experiences, belief systems and memories. They help you survive by producing quick reactions to danger, lust, reward, appreciation, surprise etc. So if a fly sits on your cheek, your response would be to squat it with your hand and if someone suddenly taps your shoulder in the middle of the night, you would jump up in fright.
• Emotions are physical, instinctual and measurable. They can be quantified by blood flow, heartbeat, brain activity, facial expressions and body movements.
• Feelings are created by the senses. Between an emotion you experience and the response you give to it from your higher truth which is feelings, lies your power of choice.
• Whether you are reacting or responding to people or situations makes you realise whether you are working with emotions or feelings.
• In the gap between emotions and feelings, you have the choice to perceive it as per your true empowered self and have the power to change your life for the better.
• As you learn to master your emotions and connect to feelings, you free your true self from the clutches of the lower emotions.

Learning to recognise and differentiate between your emotions and feelings is critical to developing Emotional Intelligence (EI) or Emotional Quotient (EQ). Even better, grasping this distinction will help you in channelizing your feelings, and puts you on the trail to understanding them. And with this, you will learn that while you don’t have a choice about your emotions, you can choose your feelings. Knowing this will empower you to change your mental makeup and change your life.

Meditation helps you work on your response to different situations and conquer your emotions. Once done, you will be able to connect to your feelings in the heart. When you come in the Now moment, there are no emotions, and you are left with only feelings.

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