What’s the difference between feelings and emotions?
Feelings and emotions are very closely connected but they’re not quite the same…
- Emotion: is something that you spontaneously feel in a specific situation. An emotion is temporary. It could be fear, anger, joy, shame, or excitement and is expressed by your body (you flush, your heart rate speeds up, you feel hot, etc.) and your mind (your thoughts change, you feel like shouting, crying, etc.).
- Feeling: lasts a long time and can change! Sometimes a feeling disappears, other times it doesn’t. Feelings include love, happiness, insecurity, hatred, etc.
Understanding what’s going on inside you
Sadness, anger, fear, shame, disgust, joy… What good are emotions? It’s important for you to learn to recognize your emotions and be able to name them. The better you can identify them, the better you’ll be able to manage them.
- Sadness allows us to realize we’ve lost something, then to be reborn!
- You’re overheated, you feel like you’re going to explode, you’re red in the face? You seem to be feeling anger!
- Fear is a signal that helps protect us from danger.
- Shame, responds to an attack on our private life: our body, sexuality, emotions, feelings, etc.
- Disgust may hide a reality we refuse to acknowledge.
- Joy is a powerful stress reliever that releases tension and boosts our self-esteem.
Some basic principles for managing your emotions
Express your emotions
You have the right to feel and express your emotions. That will help you let off steam and feel better; it’s healthy. On the other hand, if you repress them, deny them, or keep them buried inside, you’re likely to feel frustrated and your negative emotions can build up. And if they build up too much, there’s a risk you may express them in the wrong way...
Find the right ways
Choose the right time and a place where you feel comfortable and safe to express yourself. The people around you are also important: they need to be available to listen to you and you need to trust them.
If you’re angry, you probably want to let off steam: punch a cushion, yell into a pillow, go out running, listen to music, dance, etc. If you’re sad, you may want to cry, write, talk, take a bath, watch a favourite TV show, listen to or make music, etc.
You have a choice
You can choose to express your emotions differently each time. Do you know how to do this? Sometimes, when we feel an emotion, we feel a need to externalize it: that is, to experience it, accept it, and make room for it. At other times, we might want to take our mind off things and do something else to change the emotion. The important thing is to listen to yourself because you’re the best person to know what will help you.
Understand the origin of your emotion
Take the time to think and understand why you felt this emotion. That can help you better accept it. Instead of wanting to fight against it or repress it, you can even imagine yourself thanking it for warning you that you needed something. For example, maybe you got angry and you realized that it was because you wanted to talk but you felt you weren’t being listened to. The anger was there to help you assert yourself.
Emotions are short-lived
Emotions will make you experience all kinds of things, and some of them aren’t pleasant. But remember that they don’t last long and they don’t represent you. Learn to observe them when they appear and when they disappear. It may help if you imagine that they’re like the cars of a passing train while you’re standing in the station. Sometimes, the train cars stay in the station for a while, whereas other times they move through without even stopping.
Frequently asked questions
Some people are more sensitive than others. We can’t control our emotions and there’s nothing abnormal about crying because you’re affected by a situation. It’s your way of feeling and expressing your emotion. Remember that it will pass because the emotion is temporary. If it really embarrasses you in your daily life, try to express yourself in other ways when you feel overcome: writing, music, art, playing sports, doing yoga, etc. All these things will allow you to focus your emotions on a pleasurable activity.
It’s normal not to have any control over your emotions… because we can’t control them! Are you going through a hard time? Are there big changes in your life? Is that damaging your relationships? If yes, are you ready to talk about it with someone? Expressing your questions to a trusted person can help you. Most of the time, this impression is temporary because it’s due to a specific context (for example, you feel stressed).
Most importantly, think carefully about what you want to say; then you may feel more comfortable saying it. You can start by writing, which some people find easier. There’s no need to write a novel! Some notes, just for you, will help you organize your thoughts and name your emotions. You’ll see: it’s a useful exercise that will help your when you decide to talk to someone about what you’re feeling. The right words will come.