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Emotions vs. Feelings

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Which are Which?

A jovial toolbox filled with cartoon tools titled toolbox of life

Emotions vs. Feelings - What are we talking about?

When we talk about emotions vs. feelings, what are we talking about? With the lack of education on emotional intelligence in general, it's no wonder most of us don't know the difference between emotions and feelings, much less how to talk about, relate with, and build the capacity to tolerate and cope with them in healthy and sustainable ways.

Emotions often get a bad rap

With our academic and economic models, emotions have received a bad rap. Emotions and/or Feelings are often regarded as "personal problems to be left at home" and considered something to be mitigated and contained, if not removed. As a result, we've developed a myriad of ways to avoid, deflect, suppress, and/or numb them to make them go away, but, for the most part, they stick around no matter what we try to get rid of them.

Using the tools at your disposal

Emotions are very human and designed to be tools in the toolbox of life. We've just rarely, if ever, been taught what they are and how to use them. We need our emotions to help us make decisions, set boundaries, and keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. So, how do we get started to increase emotional intelligence and get to know our cast of emotional characters, as in our unique versions of the beloved movie Inside Out?

So then, which is which?

Emotions are adjectives, just language, used to describe our emotional experiencing. Feelings, on the other hand, represent the physical sensations generated by our emotions, or our energies-in-motion, which move through physical sensations in the body, producing what we call feelings. We may use the adjective "terrified" to describe our experience, but our physical sensations comprised by knowledge dictate whether we can speak and/or move or not! Our feelings are where the action is and are behind our Fight, Flight, and Freeze patterns. So where do we start sharing and witnessing our experiences? Vocabulary is a great beginning.

Free download - Emotions vs. Feelings

I've created a handy visual chart to assist in identifying emotions vs. feelings -- this is a great tool as you learn to navigate both!

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