Personal Development
Feelings and Emotions: How to Tell the Difference

Feelings and Emotions: How to Tell the Difference

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Feelings vs. Emotions � What's the Difference?

It's easy to understand why people are often confused by the difference between feelings and emotions. Feelings are an integral part of emotions, however emotions are a separate entity that exists independently. Emotions are hard wired into all humans, regardless of culture, arising from one of the brain's cortices, the amygdala limbic system. This system determines our reactions to various stimuli and can even cause physical sensations, referred to as a somatic response. For instance, when we are confronted with a dangerous animal in the wild, the only emotion that is evoked is fear. This primal, genetic emotion increases our heart rate, tells us that the situation is not safe and impels us to act. Generally, emotions are classified into eight primal, positive, or negative emotions experienced by all humans.

The Eight Primary Emotions

  • Joy occurs when we experience something exciting or positive
  • Sadness appears when we experience a loss
  • Anger is produced in us when we are betrayed
  • Fear is our reaction to danger
  • Happiness is experienced when we feel safe and cared for
  • Disgust is our body's way of responding to unpleasant stimuli
  • Trust is our admiration and acceptance of others
  • Anticipation can range from interest to curiosity and awareness

So, why do we have emotions? Our emotions are integral to our response to stimuli, deciding what is hazardous or beneficial to us. Without our emotions, we would not be able to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, have poor instincts, and lack the social skills to function proficiently. Despite humans not always being aware of their emotions, they are always present, and ignoring or repressing them can lead to unhealthy behaviour and mental health issues. As such, it is important to be able to recognize and deal with one's emotions in order to break out of a toxic cycle.

Dealing with Unconscious Emotions

Seeking out a Shiken coach can be very beneficial in developing the necessary skills to stay grounded, effectively communicate your emotions, and boost your mental fitness. Interestingly, while emotions are connected to basic feelings, they play a different role in our lives. As you grapple with your emotions, take a moment to consider your feelings too. Identifying your feelings is a challenge, but doing so can provide you with invaluable insight into how we react to different situations. Understanding our feelings is vital in managing our emotions and finding emotional balance.


To summarize, it is essential to be able to identify the difference between feelings and emotions and learn how to manage them if we are to possess a high level of emotional intelligence. Emotions are innate reactions stemming from our brain that dictate our response to certain situations, whereas feelings are reflective of how those emotions affect us. Being aware of and working with your feelings and emotions will help you reach emotional equilibrium and lead a more content life. A Shiken coach can help you master the skills needed to manage your emotions and feelings, and overall improve your mental health.

How Do Feelings and Emotions Work Together?

Feelings and emotions are powerful influences in our life experience, but how do they work together? Understanding the interplay between feelings and emotions is essential in order to gain a greater understanding of ourselves and the people around us.

Understanding Feelings and Emotions

When it comes to our innermost thoughts and feelings, we often use the terms interchangeably. Generally speaking, emotions are the core responses that all of us can recognize - joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, and surprise - while feelings are the learned responses we develop to certain emotional triggers. For instance, someone with arachnophobia might develop feelings of horror when exposed to spiders.

When it comes to our mental health, these emotions can be a double-edged sword. As children, we learn to use feelings and emotions to interpret our environment, but as adults, we can carry those feelings in an unhealthy way. Often, negative emotions can manifest in conscious thoughts due to previous traumatic experiences, and unless we take the time to identify the source of this feeling, it can wreak havoc on our mental health.

Environmental Influence

Our environment can also have a significant impact on how we process emotions and feelings. Religion, culture, family, and social circles all affect how we respond to certain situations. For example, toxic masculinity can create an environment in which men are shamed for expressing emotions of sadness, which can lead to dangerous responses such as substance abuse or eating disorders. Cultural influences can also be seen in how people respond to death and bereavement - in the United States, funerals are more somber, while in South Africa, mourning is focused on celebrating the life of the deceased.

Impact on Mental Health

When left unmanaged, feelings and emotions can have serious physical and mental health effects. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can arise, as well as an inability to express emotions in a healthy way. It is important to remember, however, that we all have the ability to manage our emotions in a healthy way.

Tips for Managing Feelings and Emotions

  • Acknowledge your emotions - don't suppress them. Identifying what you're feeling can help to reduce their power
  • Accept your emotions - it's one thing to name them, another to be comfortable with them
  • Seek professional help if necessary
  • Engage in activities that help you to manage your emotions - exercise, meditation, yoga, and journaling can be great tools

The Benefits of Taking a Deep Breath

Slow, deep breaths are scientifically proven to help bring us back to reality. When faced with a surge of emotion, it can be difficult to quiet our mind. Taking a few deep breaths helps to refocus our attention away from the emotion and on to our body. This helps us to recognize that our emotions are essential parts of our lives and trying to suppress them is an exhausting task. Taking the time to learn how to manage emotions in a healthy way is key to living a balanced and positive life.

At Shiken, we offer one-on-one confidential coaching sessions to help individuals learn how to manage emotions and feelings. Our coaches provide support with understanding feelings, setting boundaries, and intentional self-care.

Gaining Insight on Emotional Regulation with Shiken

Navigating emotional experiences can be difficult, but with the right tools, you can process them in a healthy way. Shiken provides a comprehensive solution for improving leader performance and well-being, and understanding more about how we can help you is just a few clicks away.

Discovering the Benefits of Shiken

Our website presents a wealth of resources to help you get started. Let's take a look at what's offered:

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Our coaches are here to help individuals better understand their feelings, develop healthy coping skills, and practice intentional self-care. If you're seeking guidance and support with emotional regulation, let us help!

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