As a Life Strategist and Accelerator, I advocate for living with complete autonomy, and in a manner where you become the artisan of your own life, what I call ‘Divintastical Living’. In mentoring clients towards ‘Divintastical Living’, I hear a lot about the current state of their lives. Initially, those stories are framed around how they feel, more so than what they want. Some speak of “emotions” while others speak of “feelings”, and still others tend to use those words interchangeably. What’s noteworthy is that while the two words are related, there are subtle differences in their meanings.
Emotions are responses that occur as our reply to specific triggers or situations. Emotions are instinctual, complex, and are typically characterized by physical changes (such as increased heart rate or sweating), subjective experiences (such as joy, anger, fear), and behavioral expressions (such as facial expressions or body language). Examples of emotions include happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and surprise.
Feelings, on the other hand, are the way we consciously perceive and interpret our emotions. They’re the individualised experiences we internalise to achieve personal experiences that arise as a result of emotional responses. For example, when you feel happy, sad, or angry, you are experiencing the corresponding feelings linked with those emotions.
Neither emotion or feelings are readily understood. Emotions can be seen as the underlying processes, and feelings are the subjective experiences that arise from those processes. Essentially, the mindset or qualities connected with our emotional experiences.
In the Arrays of Living podcast “Life As An Equation (Part 1)” episode, I broke life down into a mathematical equation. One aspect of the message within that episode was that feelings drive our thoughts. Now its time to understand that emotions play a significant role in guiding our behaviours. They are like little messengers inside us that help us make decisions and take action. Feelings and emotions can shape our behavior in both positive and negative ways.
As quoted by the writer and poet Audre Lorde “Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.” If we take a moment to consider ourselves as computers, then the feelings and emotions act as data that is entered into the computer. In the same way we ask of a typical computer “what is the data telling us?” is the same question we must ask of ourselves related to our feelings and emotions. This data is meant to flow through us as it’s deciphered, however, when emotions are intense and we choose not to deal with the data, it gets embedded internally. As energetic beings, that amounts to storing a hurricane within our bodies, and we fuel its category strength through our learned behaviour strategies to emotionally regulate. As we know hurricanes can do damage; especially if left unchecked. The effects we see over time as a result are health related issues. The explanation for the why of this is that emotions are energy in motion, and creates havoc in our bodies when consistently repressed or disassociated.
In this hurricane analogy, the ideal is to let the energy flow through as you analyse the data it holds – what was the trigger for the emotion, what feelings did the emotion evoke, and what can be done to ensure it is not stored within your body. Ironically, in physics, stored energy is considered as potential energy; which means creation of the hurricane equates to burying your potential. Avoiding emotions and the feelings associated with those emotions is an intention usually applied to negative emotions, and usually fulfilled unintentionally. Avoidance is a learned behaviour strategy for emotional regulation. It is just another form of self-sabotage, and if feelings and emotions are indeed our paths to knowledge, then burying or ignoring them is a self-limiting action we choose to take.
The great news is when working with me, I can give insights into why we do what we do. My work involves holding a safe space for you to see the possibilities of you, as I do. It’s about arming you with new resources and tools to do the doing differently. Hence, the tagline “changing perspectives to change lives” for my book Aladdin Carpets.
Feelings, emotions and learned behavior are relationally interconnected. Our emotions can shape our learned behavior through conditioning, influence our behavior in the present moment, and be regulated through learned strategies. Understanding this correlation can help us navigate our emotions and behaviors more effectively and make positive changes in our lives. By paying attention to our emotions and understanding their messages, we can better navigate our lives and make choices that align with our well-being and values.