Emotions are relatively fleeting and more or less conscious experiences that are characterized by intense mental activity that generates a high degree of pleasure or sorrow. We all experience emotions, but not all of us are able to recognize and manage them.
Indeed, there are people who have a very limited emotional knowledge of themselves, and although they experience many emotions, they are not able to recognize them with precision. The problem is that not knowing what emotion we are feeling prevents us from managing it in the most appropriate way.
Conversely, knowing all the emotions and feelings will allow us to refine our emotional awareness. If you only know one or two musical notes, it will be the only ones you will listen to as you will pay them more attention. If you know all of them, your musical universe it will expand. The same thing happens in terms of feelings and emotions.
Neither feelings are so emotional nor thoughts are so rational
We tend to think that emotions and thoughts are opposing processes that exclude each other. But the truth is that in every emotion there is a bit of reason and in every thought there is a bit of feeling.
Although we are guided by the emotions we are experiencing at the moment, we are also reacting to a complex mental process that has occurred in the background: the cognitive interpretation we have made of the event.
The truth is that we do not react to reality, but to the meaning we give to that reality, and in that way our expectations, needs and thoughts are influencing. Therefore, emotions are not simply reactions to the environment but also the evaluation of what is happening to us.
For example, if a person overflows a glass of water on us, the most consistent emotional reaction would be the surprise because it is an unexpected event. However, when we begin to think about the person’s intentions and our rational mind starts to wotk, we can react with anger, thinking that he did it with purpose. So anger is not an emotional reaction to what has happened, but to our interpretation of the event.
Difference between emotions and feelings
Knowing the difference between emotions and feelings is not a mere epistemological or linguistic exercise, it will help us to better understand our reactions and behaviors, allowing us to regulate our affective responses to achieve a greater well-being.
What are emotions? They are reactions of affective valence before certain stimuli, which can be external, something that we see or live, or internal, as a thought or a memory. Emotions unleash a set of hormonal and neurochemical responses that produce a state of activation, impelling us to immediate action.
What are feelings? Feelings generate the same physiological and psychological responses as emotions, but have a conscious evaluation incorporated. That is to say, they involve the awareness and appreciation of emotion and the affective experience that we are living.
Therefore, the main differences between emotions and feelings are:
- Duration. Emotions are transient states that come and go relatively quickly. Feelings, on the other hand, are more stable affective states over time. Joy, for example, is an emotion, while love is a feeling.
- Order of appearance. Feelings are the result of the emotions, so that usually precede them. Joy, for example, can be transformed into happiness and attraction into love.
- Intensity. Emotions are usually more intense than feelings since their main objective is to predispose us to action. The complex processes of assessment that usually intervene in the feelings subtract a little intensity.
- Processing level. Emotions are given unconsciously, generating an almost immediate response, while feelings, by demanding more time for their formation, are processed in a conscious manner.
- Degree of regulation. Emotions are affective states difficult to control because they generate automatic psychophysiological reactions. We cannot completely contain emotions such as fear or joy, for example, and as soon as we experience them, they will manifest through microexpressions. Feelings, on the contrary, can be better managed over time, looking for strategies to express them in a more assertive way.
However, emotions and feelings are often difficult to separate in practice because where there is a feeling there are usually different emotions and vice versa.
Understanding the differences between emotions and feelings helps us, however, not to feel guilty for our first emotional reactions. It also teaches us not to cling to them, so that those unpleasant can disappear as naturally as they have appeared.
How many emotions are out there?
In psychology there is a general consensus that refers to 6 types of basic emotions: fear, anger, disgust, sadness, surprise and joy. However, recent research has shown that human face can create more than 7,000 different expressions that reflect a wide range of emotions.
Therefore, basic emotions are simply the basis for building more subtle and complex feelings and emotions that blur our experiences.
List of basic and complex emotions
In this list of emotions and feelings we refer to positive, negative and variable emotions, but in reality all emotions and feelings can become negative or positive depending on how we live and express them. Moreover, these are not all the emotions that exist because there are also other emotional states we have experienced but in our language do not have a literal translation like pronoia and awumbuk.