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Emotions and feelings: What is the difference and how to manage them?

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Emotions and feelings are part of our daily life, our identity. They define who we are, how we behave, how we react, what we feel explicitly or implicitly.

To make good use of your emotions and feelings, you must:

1. First understand their differences, their origin and their utility.

2. Next, you have to learn how to manage them effectively.

I therefore suggest that we dive together into this fascinating world of emotions and feelings.

First, let's start by defining them:

- An emotion is a physiological and physical response to a particular situation or event.

- A feeling is a lasting state, while an emotion is felt over a shorter period after an event.


- Fear is an emotion.

- Love or hate are feelings.

Feeling and emotion are often associated, while some differences should be highlighted:

1. Emotions :

a. Contrary to what is often thought, emotions first appear in the body. The mind then quickly takes over and leads us to act according to the situation. For example, if we see a truck hurtling at us, we are afraid and without thinking we try to stand on the side or back up.

b. There are no right or wrong emotions. It is the way we feel them that makes them pleasant or unpleasant.

c. All emotions are useful, good or bad.

d. Emotions are indicators that our cherished values are/are not respected. For example, if we are experiencing an unfair situation, it is normal to feel angry. If someone tells us about an intimate subject, it's normal to feel embarrassed.

e. Your brain is aware of emotions. For example, anger cultivated for a long time can turn into hatred.

2. Feelings :

a. A feeling is an affective state built from a mixture of emotions. It is the result of abstract thought.

b. A feeling is the result of a sensation, an awareness about something that touches you, a belief, or an impression.

c. It comes from our interpretation of events and sensations.

d. It's an awareness of what you're going through emotionally.

e. The feeling is more lasting than the emotion, but can also disappear after a while. But it can also last a long, long time.

3. The difference between emotions and feelings :

a. Emotions are rather instantaneous, whereas feelings are made up from emotions and thoughts. They are therefore more durable, even if they can evolve over time.

b. Feelings are almost infinite, because they can group several emotions. While emotions are limited.

c. Emotions are often stronger, more intense, and shorter, they lead to react, to take action to release the tension they create.

d. Feelings are often less strong (although), but above all they do not require action. And since it often builds over time, it also lasts longer, it stays.

e.Feelings can group different emotions. For example, love can include joy and trust.

f. We could summarize by saying that emotions are intense, while feelings are sweeter.

What you need to know is that there are 2 categories of emotions. Let's take a closer look:

1. Primary emotions:

There are 6 of them, and each has a function to allow you to adjust your behavior in front of a particular situation.

1. Fear: protects you from possible danger

2. Anger: allows you to show your disagreement

3. Joy: makes you feel good

4. Sadness: allows you to take a step back from your past actions

5. Disgust: protects you from danger

6. The surprise: also protects you from danger

All emotions are therefore useful and necessary for our survival.

2. Secondary emotions:

a. There are 10 that are fun, contempt, satisfaction, embarrassment, excitement, guilt, pride, relief, sensory pleasure and shame.

b. They are a mixture of main emotions.

For example :

- Guilt is a mixture of fear and disgust

- Melancholy is a mixture of fear and sadness

- Shame is a mixture of fear and anger (towards oneself).

c.They are also more "thoughtful", such as annoyance (a "small anger"), apprehension (less fear), melancholy (a form of sadness) ...

d.They can be more complex/nuanced than the main emotions.

For example :

- From joy (main emotion), we can express a variety of secondary emotions ranging from fun to sensory pleasure to pride (secondary emotions).

- Guilt (secondary emotion) is composed of a mixture of disgust (of oneself) and fear (main emotions).

The big question now is how to better manage your emotions and feelings.

- Understanding the difference between emotions and feelings helps you better manage them. We are used to hearing that we must learn to manage our emotions. On the other hand, there is a golden rule to never forget:

- An emotion should not be nurtured. Otherwise, it turns into a feeling (resentment) over time.

- An emotion should not be ignored. Otherwise, it accumulates and can cause discomfort such as Burnout, Depression ...

- Managing your emotions will help you:

a. Don't get carried away

b. Measure your words in case of anger

c. Manage your reactions in case of excitement or provocation

d. Know how to express them in a calm and appropriate way

- To learn how to better manage your emotions, you must:

a. Practice exercises on body feelings.

b. Avoid harboring thoughts that could increase your emotion further.

c. Understand the underlying emotions of a feeling that hurts you.

For example: If you have hatred, you can manage it better if you understand that there is anger, or fear behind your values.

- If you manage to identify and understand an emotion, you will be able to live it more fully on a daily basis, to make them strengths /allies. To get there, there are 6 steps to follow:

1. Identify what emotion you are going through (joy, fear, anger, sadness...)

2. Make sure it's an emotion and not a feeling

3. Ask yourself, "What puts me in this state?"

4. Seek to understand what the unmet need is.

5. Think about whether this is the unsatisfied need that drives your emotion.

6. If so, you will be able to find a solution or an appropriate response to your emotion.

7. Otherwise, repeat the same process several times until you find the unsatisfied need behind your emotion.


Need help with your professional reconversion?

I help people achieve their goals and live their best lives. Whether you're looking for help with career, relationships, or personal development, I can provide the support and guidance you need to succeed. I also offer specialized coaching for young people with Parkinson disease, helping them to manage their symptoms and live full and active lives. My approach is personalized and supportive, and I'm committed to helping you reach your full potential.

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