In this post, we’ll explore the differences between emotions versus feelings, unpacking exactly what they each mean and how we can use this information to more effectively navigate life.
Emotions Versus Feelings
At first glance, emotions and feelings might seem interchangeable ― both define how we relate to our experiences, both shape our interpersonal relationships and both influence our decision-making processes. However, there’s a nuanced difference between these two concepts.
The Difference Between Emotions & Feelings
Emotions are information. They are generated to inform us about our environment and thus are objective. For example, loneliness is a signal that we need a sense of belonging.
Feelings are interpretation. They are generated when we assign meaning to our emotions and thus are subjective. For example, aloneness means we enjoy our own company.
Emotions are unconscious reactions to external stimuli and are generated by sensations in the body. Feelings are conscious responses to internal stimuli and are generated by thoughts in the mind. For example, the feelings we refer to as anxiety and excitement have the exact same biochemistry ― what determines which one we feel is our perception.
Below is a table summarising the differences.
The Importance Of Understanding
By understanding the differences between emotions and feelings, we can improve our decision making, more effectively navigate both our internal and external environment and foster healthier and more fulfilling relationships with others.
Despite being used interchangeably and despite being intimately linked, emotions and feelings are different.
Emotions are information about our environment ― they are unconscious physical reactions to external stimuli and are objective. Feelings are interpretation of our emotions ― they are conscious mental responses to external stimuli and are subjective.
Understanding the differences puts us in a position to better harness both and therefore allows us to better navigate life.