The Importance Difference between Emotions and Feelings
Every language contains two distinct words for emotions and feelings, but most people can't clearly define the difference. We use them interchangeably, however, there are crucial differences and knowing this can be immensely helpful in the journey to self-mastery.
We tell people not to make decisions when they are emotional, however we do tell them to listen to their feelings. So already there is a clue, pointing towards the ephemeral reactive quality of emotions, and the deeper more reliable true nature of feelings.
The word emotion, contains ‘motion’ and when we are emotional, the energy of our consciousness is definitely in a state of movement or fluctuation. Like a sesmigraph measures movement of the earth, I imagine emotions to be like an earthquake in our consciousness. That disturbance is felt as emotions, such as anger, jealousy, sadness, fear, hate, what people sometimes call negative feelings.
What triggers these emotions, is when our false self-identity (ego) is attacked or under threat. Since our egos are based on the 1000’s of things we identify with, all which are temporaral, these dangers are ever present.
I imagine the ego, as being like castle, we build from childhood, each brick representing an aspect of identify or ego. We have bricks based on external things such as, our possessions, appearance, position, social status, skills, reputation etc. We also have bricks based on subtle attachments, such as ‘my’ beliefs, ideas, perceptions, opinions.
We think a bigger more beautiful castle will make us feel secure and special, but in fact it's the opposite. Because each brick is based on something we can’t control, we are always looking out for threats, and defending our castles against attack and loss. We also seek to constantly add more bricks to the castle.
The mantra of the ego is more, more more. Bigger, better, more beautiful.
If you can recall the last time you had an argument with someone, as you defend your point of view, your stress levels indicate that you are in fact defending your life. Your body pumps out adrenalin, which according to your personal make-up will force you to fight, or flee the situations.
Your point of view, is another brick in the wall, of your castle. The ego tell you, you are your point of view. If your point of view is rejected, you feel rejected. So, in essence, the ego, or the false self, under attack or threat, creates the primary emotion of fear, and its secondary emotions of anger, jealousy, hate.
In contrast, feelings are the natural inner expression of the real self. Like the fragrance of a flower.
The word feeling, in many languages, is linked with the words touch, senses or sensing. When we feel, it is the mind that feels, and it feels what it touches. When we feel peace, it our mind touching our essence. Or, the mind smelling the fragrance of peace as it natural emanates from our soul. Feelings are what are experienced in the mind, when we are connected to our inner true self.
If you imagine a hurriance, emotions are when the boat our minds are caught up in the storm, feelings are when our mind is resting in stillness of the eye of the storm.
We have an original self, which people call our true, innate, purest, highest self. Its natural qualities are peace, love, bliss, power, wisdom. When we are in tune with that self, or vibrating at the level of being, we feel good.
We also have an acquired self, a false self, which is build over our lives, like that castle of the ego. When are operating from that level of consciousness, we get caught up in the storm of emotions, like anger and fear, basically we feel bad.
Sometimes because emotions are physically reinforced by chemical reactions in the body, we can strangly get addicted to the emotions of fear and anger. And may even subconscious create dramas in our lives in order to experience the chemical buzz of emotionals.
To disguished whether you are operating from your ego or from your true self is simple.
Emotions feel like mental agitation, they have the smell of fear within them, they don’t feel good.
Feelings feel expansive, secure, freeing, basically they feel good on every level.
It can take time to overcome the addiction to the excitement and drama of emotions and enjoy the more subtle tastes of inner true peace and love and joy.
But like choosing healthy food, over junk food, the rewards are enormous.
Note: Special thanks to my friend and fellow teacher and author Mike George for sharing these concepts with me over 20 years ago. They have helped me enormously and I highly recommend any of his books.