Understanding Feelings and Emotions

How are feelings and emotions important parts of our ways of being and our decisions in life?  First we need to understand the differences between feelings and emotions. Though we often interchange them, feelings and emotions are different.

Emotions are basic and physical responses to our environment of the moment. Emotions alert us to responses necessary to adapt to what is happening now. The emotion of fear that manifests when we come across a wild, threatening animal alerts us and gets our body in gear to either “fight or flight”. So emotions tell us what’s up, what’s happening in our environment in the moment.

Feelings are more cerebral or of the mind. Our experiences over time growing up inform us or train us how to react to emotions we experience. We learn feelings. They are the stories of our life experiences around various emotions.

Emotions are more universally human, whereas feelings are more specific to each person’s life experiences around emotions. Feelings are the patterns we learn around emotions we experience.

So, to better control our lives or better decide in our lives, we need to examine and learn the patterns we have developed based around certain emotions experienced in our formative years. These patterns tell us how to navigate the emotions we face as we live.

I learned in my early life that when I experienced emotions of anger or need I felt careful or protective of those emotions. I was raised to modulate and control my feelings of anger and need so I wouldn’t overshadow or hurt my brother who was overprotected because of congenital heart problems. So I learned to keep my emotions and feelings inside. As an adult I had to learn this pattern if I wanted to change my relationship with emotions of anger and need or want. It’s possible to change your relationship with emotions and the feelings learned to navigate those emotions.

I now practice expressing my feelings of anger and stating my needs openly.  Making change like this can be quite calming and freeing.

Coaching or counseling can help us identify and learn the patterns of behavior around emotions and feelings. Once we understand our unique ways of being learned to navigate early emotions we can begin to change or modify or re-learn ways we navigate through emotions experienced in life. The stories we learned around emotion and feelings can be edited to allow for changed behaviors. We no longer have to be controlled by our life stories around emotions.

If we have issues of being overweight and issues around food, we can examine how or if our experiences with emotions taught us to handle certain emotions by eating. Our stories learned to navigate through the emotions we experienced in early, formative years can be keys to unlock new ways of navigating through emotions that arise in new and different ways.

Finding the distinction between emotions and feelings and your stories created around those dynamics can show the way to positive change in your life. It’s worth the effort and journey.

Here’s to creating new possibilities through better understanding of and more control over your emotions and feelings moving forward. Real change is possible.

Peter Heymann

“Coach Pete”

break / through career and life coaching

Leave a comment