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Difference Between Feelings and Emotions

emotionFeelings 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.

Definition of Feeling and Emotion
Feeling – has upwards of twenty different meanings, depending on which dictionary you consult. For our purposes, feeling can either refer to something experience as a result of outside stimuli reacting with one of your five senses or someone’s sensibilities, attitude, or emotional perception.
Emotion ‘“ is technically 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.

Examples of Feelings and Emotions
Feeling ‘“
can come from the outside world reacting with any of our five senses: warmth, cold, hot, dry, dusty, drenched
can come from a physical sensation ‘“ hungry, thirsty, hurt, ticklish, itchy, tingly
can come from the result of an emotion ‘“ sad, happy, excited, nervous, disgusted, scared, overjoyed
Emotion ‘“ can be categorized by degree. For example, 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.

Experiencing Feelings and Emotions
Feelings ‘“ are thought to be experienced for short periods of time. If you touch a stove it feels hot and you quickly remove your hand. Within minutes you are no longer feeling hot. If someone jumps out at you from around a corner you will feel startled, but that will soon pass. Feelings of excitement will subside after the awaited event is done.
Emotions ‘“ are often said to be 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.

Summary:
1.Emotions and feelings are both sensations experienced by humans.
2.Feelings are triggered by external stimuli whereas emotions come from your mind, and possibly, soul.
3.Feelings can include physical sensations as well as mental states, but emotions always come from your mind.
4.Feelings are often 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.


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22 Comments

  1. I take a slightly different view.

    Emotions are our immediate reactions to external stimuli.

    they can be described simply, easily and occur on a regular basis as we react to our environment.

    Circumstances do not create feelings. Circumstances create emotions.

    Feelings are sensations experienced first inside the body, we then add judgement and thought to interepret our feelings, we then use words to attempt to articulate our feelings.

    Feelings create circumstances.

    Feelings are very hard to explain, and are often a “once in a lifetime” experience unlike emotions which happen regularly as we “react” to our external environment and circumstances.

    Feelings > Thoughts > Words > Action

    Many people react to their circumstances negatively through their emotions, thus perpetuating how the respond, thus continue to create the circumstances they find themselves in.

    Emotions are an effect. Feelings are a cause.

    • May we be of some help?

      We are a Motivational Research & Development firm dedicated to understanding human motivation. The distinction between feelings and emotions are rarely addressed. In fact, writers most often interchange these terms to describe a single pathology. This feeds the confusion and incapacities meaningful dialog.

      We at Authentic Systems use Immanuel Kant’s interpretation of “feeling.” That is, a feeling is the manifestation of stable innate faculties associated with abstract sustained cognition. Whereas, “emotions” are the physically based catalysts that interpret immediate external phenomenon to be relayed to our “feelings,” only to be reassessed back into emotions (excluding autonomic reactions). Emotions are therefore transitory.

      For example, a parent is angry (emotional effect) at his or her child for running out into the street and not looking in both directions. What prompted this emotion of anger is the (causal feeling) love he or she has for their child. The feeling of love is the innate, stable capacity sustained over time whereas “anger’ is in the moment and regresses in intensity after a short period.

      Furthermore, according to Carl Jung, objects draw and invoke emotions. This is a natural phenomenon, and is essential for human survival. When you encounter an unknown, you may have a range of sensationally stimulated emotions such as: curiosity, fear, or even ambivalence. When you give that unknown a name, it becomes a significant symbol of meaning. It is through this process that emotions become attached to every object in the universe. When some object is given a name, it not only becomes a “thing”, it also becomes something of “meaning and soon we come to have a sustain “feeling” about the object.

      On a daily basis, these emotions can be as subtle as: “like”, “dislike” or “ambivalence”. Even a state of ambivalence is nevertheless a state of meaning. Therefore, to put it simply: Nothing, is ever meaningless and has some emotional impact designed to stabilize an inner “feeling.”

      Once this distinction is made a great deal is revealed, providing they stay separate in definition and application.

      See: http://www.authentic-systems.com/featured-articles/difference-between-emotions-and-feelings/

    • I do not agree with what you said. You cannot have a feeling without having a thought. Its been proven, that if you can control your thoughts you can control your feelings. Check out Dr. Arleene Taylor, a brain researcher for over 20 years. I like the way she explains it.

      • I am confused. One statement above ” You cannot have a feeling without having a thought.”

        I don’t understand this statement. For example, if you are cold, you don’t need to have the thought that you are cold. Or if you are in pain, a thought is not required to feel pain.

        I would propose the following: the mind(brain) consists of two minds: the aware mind that is always sensing and feeling the sensations, and the thinking mind which is sequencing thoughts. Sensations from the aware mind can be interpreted by the thinking mind and thoughts in the thinking mind can generate emotional states. Emotional states can be felt by the aware mind as well thus felt. For example, if someone thinks they have been wronged, this may lead to the emotion of anger which affects blood pressure, heart rate and is felt by the aware mind.

        • I would argue, all external physical actions are born in thougth, and all internal bio/physio actions creates the thoughts attaching itself to an emotion and feeling. This process will result in some physical response to be relieved of the presenting discomfort. Whatever stressors goes on in the outide, will allways manifest itself on the outside, because the body will always seek have homeostatisis.

          • Spin,

            “I would argue, all external physical actions are born in thought…”

            When you were a baby and devoid of thought, what caused your physical actions?

            “…and all internal bio/physio actions creates the thoughts attaching itself to an emotion and feeling. ”

            Bio/physio states do not create thoughts given that some people are born with only 5% of a normal brain yet can reach 129 IQ.

            “This process will result in some physical response to be relieved of the presenting discomfort. Whatever stressors goes on in the outside, will always manifest itself on the outside, because the body will always seek have homeostasis.”

            The body seeks homeostasis due to the enfolding symbiotic internal relational systems. But the thinking mind will outwardly manifest internal processes only through conscious singular intent.

        • Jack,
          I think that there is a confusion of terms.
          Feelings are expressions of thought _by definition_.
          When someone says “feeling cold”, this actually does not refer to a feeling but to a body sensation. It is our mastery of language as humans that allows us to have thoughts about it and name it, but it has nothing to do with feelings like in “feeling sad”.
          Unfortunately the language is not very strict on terms and confusion is easy.

      • TTania,

        “I do not agree with what you said. You cannot have a feeling without having a thought. Its been proven, that if you can control your thoughts you can control your feelings. Check out Dr. Arleene Taylor, a brain researcher for over 20 years. I like the way she explains it.”

        Emotions and Feelings are the forces that give energy to thought. It has been proven that you can control your emotions through your thoughts but not your deeper feelings.

        Brain research is not designed to assess inner feelings of the mind and can only detect emotions from neural tracking. This is the problem with western psychology always needing physical evidence.

        We may become very angry with someone but know that showing anger in a public setting in that moment, would not be appropriate. We would control our desire to express an emotional outburst but control this urge and say nothing. Nevertheless, the inner feelings that generated your anger is still with you, maybe in the form of contempt.

        The meaning of feeling in our context can be known through the following questions, “How do you feel about abortions? “How do you feel about patriotism? How do you feel about Santa Claus? “How do you feel about having a career in business? “How do you feel about opera?

        Notice that you first find your feelings then register these feelings through thought converted into language. This is done in the subconscious first then heard through speech. To prove this, we seldom need to rehearse our thoughts before we speak. We have feelings first that energize our cognitive capacities of thought that manifest as speech.

        So, feelings precede thought but neuroscience can only register the dynamics thought that function as the effect of these feelings.

        You should check out the European view of psychology and expand your understanding of the mind.

  2. FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE EXPERIENCING OF SENSATIONS BY THE MIND. WHEN SENSATIONS COMING FROM OUTSIDE WORLD AND TOUCHING OUR SENSES ARE EXPERIENCED CAN BE CALLED AS FEELINGS. AND WHEN SENSATIONS COMING FROM WITHIN ARE EXPERIENCED ARE CALLED FEELINGS. IT CAN BE SAID THAT SENSATIONS FROM EITHER OUTSIDE WORLD OR FROM WITHIN ARE EXPERIENCED IN THE CONSCIOUSNESS BY THE MIND ARE FEELINGS. MIND CAN NOT INTERPRET DIRECT SENSATIONS EITHER FROM OUTSIDE OR FROM WITHIN BUT WHEN INTERPRETED IT IS TRANSLATED INTO FEELINGS WHICH MIND CAN UNDERSTAND.

  3. I’m sorry to have to write this, but I’m afraid your article needs complete rewriting.
    First, trying to get some sense out of what was written, I can see that the meanings of the two terms emotions and feelings have been inverted in most of the article.
    Second, the definition of each is mostly incorrect. Emotions cannot be categorized by degree. They can be bland or intense, maybe this is what you meant. For example a door slamming can provoke a slight, momentaneous fear or total terror depending on the context (there are documented cases of death provoked by a too intense fear).
    Feelings (e.g. feeling depressed) and body sensations (itching) are totally different things and have different definitions. Body sensations do not belong here.
    Third, feelings/emotions are incorrectly described or compared. For example, hatred and disgust cannot be put on the same scale. Disgust is considered to be an emotion and is provoked by seeing or smelling something repulsive. Hatred is a feeling and does not get categorized in the same family as disgust. If you want to associate it to an emotion, then it would rather be put in the “anger” basket.
    About your list of emotions: although there is a general consensus on what an emotion is, there is no finalized list of emotions. Many attempts have been done at this by researchers (who spent years working on it trying to put together empirical data). And in most of these attempts, love is usually excluded as it cannot be considered an emotion. Hate is not an emotion either but is a feeling. You missed anger and disgust which are emotions. Many consider surprise and jealousy to be emotions, which you both forget to mention.

    • disgust is a synonym of hatred

    • Robelin

      “I can see that the meanings of the two terms emotions and feelings have been inverted in most of the article.”

      From an academic view this is true but this structure creates more problems than it solves.

      Disgust is considered to be an emotion and is provoked by seeing or smelling something repulsive. What if I just learned that my 60 year old friend is dating an 18 year old. For me that is disgusting. I have no immediate emotions about it. I find the concept disgusting.

      Cognitive disgust is similar in kind to what is vulgar as both can be formed by social class and custom.

      Feelings (e.g. feeling depressed) and body sensations (itching) are totally different things and have different definitions. Body sensations do not belong here.

      Depression triggered by events have been linked to body sensation as in psychogenic illness. Stress and anxiety which have a conceptual criteria, generate back-aches and neck pain etc.

      About your list of emotions: although there is a general consensus on what an emotion is, there is no finalized list of emotions.

      This was never designed to be an extensive list but rather a brief glimpse into some of the major issues. Actually, Gordon Allport claimed their were over 5,000 human expressions.

      I hope this clarified this issue for you.

  4. feelings and emotions can occur at the same tym but indipendendly

  5. Thanks for the lively discussion. What is thought? It is a reaction to either external stimuli or to memory.Reaction of what? Reaction of awareness.We see,hear,smell etc and we react.This reaction is thought.When we close our eyes the external stimuli are kept in abeyance and our memory(immediately prior or distant past) takes over; we react to the mental images.This reaction is also thought.Thought could be objective or subjective.Objective thoughts result in knowledge-useful or useless.Subjective thoughts occur due to our predilections. When subjective thoughts appear they result in some feeling or other.When the feeling is inconsequential they disappear in time.When the feeling is intense it results in emotion.

    • Kasturi,

      When the feeling is inconsequential they disappear in time.When the feeling is intense it results in emotion.

      My question to you is “where did our capability of moral judgment come from?” Children at 4 years old and even earlier may not correctly cite what they feel is wrong but how did they know THAT there was such an idea that “wrongness” existed in the first place? No one ever taught this to children.

      How do you feel about knowledge? Is it important to you? If so, how did you know that? How you feel about knowledge will change in quality and depth but not your general worldview.

      My feelings are never inconsequential but rather how and to what are they applied may be. That is what I will forget but the worldveiw is going nowhere.

      In this case what does a lady hurt feelings or emotions? I’m not quite clear in particular when you when you refer to point 2.

      The real answer is both and more. When you like someone romantically you have found that she empowers your Authentic Identity. You sense part of you in her. This type of feeling is felt anywhere without her being near. When she turns you down, there is identity rejection and a negative comment on the worthiness of you as a man. This causes a wound to your identity and you emote sadness.

      I hope this helps.

  6. Thank You for at DifferenceBetween.net for this article, you have really clarified the difference between these two terms.

    But according to the following from summary below:

    2.Feelings are triggered by external stimuli whereas emotions come from your mind, and possibly, soul.

    3.Feelings can include physical sensations as well as mental states, but emotions always come from your mind.

    Let say there is a lady that clearly shows romantic interest first on a guy and then the guy approach her thinking she loves him, but when he start to show romantic interest back and approach her, she stuns him and turn him down because she was just flirting and playing with him.

    In this case what does a lady hurt feelings or emotions? I’m not quite clear in particular when you when you refer to point 2.

    I think this will last a long time to a guy as well and it is triggered by external stimuli.

    • Sam,

      Thank you for your interest.

      We are taught today that…” Feelings are triggered by external stimuli whereas emotions come from your mind, and possibly, soul.”

      In fact, most text books on psychology either never mention feelings, interchange the words between feeling and emotion or claim that feelings must be triggered by external stimuli in order to discuss them.

      Many independent researchers are forced to correct academia. Unfortunately, our universities are dominated by Western Psychology. That is, only the measurable can be studied. This is why I wrote the article and why it has received the most praise.

      We may live IN a physical world but we live and die FOR the invisible world. That statement will begin your journey.

      The invisible human Will and other factors, combine to generate the physical manifestation seen by science. Both a criminal and a crime writer were given the same type of brain scan. At the moment of the scanning the segment of the brain responsible for violence were triggered in both scans. Does that mean the writer is now a criminal?

      The sites in the brain regarding emotions, can be isolated through brain scanning. But remember there are at least two different types of expressions: abstract cognition and neuropsychological.

      Science cannot look at a brain scan to determine how you feel about vacationing in Hawaii or how you feel about sushi.

      “Feelings can include physical sensations as well as mental states, but emotions always come from your mind.”

      I think you can best answer this by thinking of your mother or father. Do they have to be present as a physical sensation for you to have a feeling about them? Or would the idea be sufficient? Do you have a sense of joy recalling the physical moments you shared. If so those are your emotions.

      Also, the separation I describe has been around for a while. Carl Jung for example made this distinction which gave rise in part to the idea of behavioral archetypes.

      Write back soon if there are any other questions.

  7. A very interesting debate. Thanks for a lot of pointers to think about.

    I am not a scientist or çlaim to be an expert on the subject, but here’s how I see it….

    My emotions come from my feelings and they are not often controllable. They are a reaction and often limiting my thought processes and they unstabalize me.

    Whereas, feelings are deep rooted and they have been questioned by me over a long time before being accepted as part of me. Here I can say that when I have an emotion and I react…but after that emotion passes, I can think about what happened and why and then I decide how I will do it next time and it is this process that creates my feelings. So the feelings for me is a tool I use to navigate through life and they stabalize me.

    So now I always try to ask myself how I feel about something and why and this can, at least most of the time, stop me from becoming emotional and reacting to what the world throws at me.

    All feedback would be appreciated.

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