The Difference Between Feelings and Emotions
Thanks for thoughtfully outlining some of the differences in feelings and emotion. I'm still digesting a terrain that is confusing both because of our absence and confusion around vocabulary and by our emotional illiteracy and psychological illiteracy as a culture.

I do see an important area of the map to bring attention to: [[Feelings are triggered by external stimuli whereas emotions come from your mind, and possibly, soul.]]


If we look at "love" as a long-lasting internally derived emotion, it's worth noting the fact that many thoughts, feelings
and sensations were generated on the path to creating the internalized state of "love." In other words, love is a synthesis of cultivated thoughts, feelings and sensations, remembered and re-created by conscious will and which become a habit.

Let's look at how love is created: 


  1. I see a face.
  2. I have a projected imagination about that face. I think a whole host of largely unconscious thoughts that are associated in my body memory about that face. 
  3. These thoughts are very culturally derived. If I watch an old Sherlock Holmes movie with Jeremy Brett and look at "a lady" as portrayed there are dozens upon dozens of value-cues. Poise. Blushing. Articulating talent. Wealth. Reserve. These things have all been trained into the minds of the observer as "beautiful," cuing the brain to think "that is such a beautiful face" only when it notes these things on a face by projecting thousands of anticipated behaviors on the face.
  4. Based on my anticipations, which in turn are based on my projections, which in turn are loosely based on the affectations, which in turn are based on the woman's effort to be "appropriate for her time" I move over and engage with her.
  5. Over time this woman will confirm or disown my projections. For example, she may do the things that say "she is as lovely as I imagined," or she may shock me by blowing her nose loudly, asking for a drink and ruining the victorian mythos of a "lady," which will prompt outrage on my part that she has broken her script that I was prepared to love her for.
  6. Many many interactions like this take place and at some point I decide that I like these feelings so much (the scent of her hair, the way she turns away indignantly at the thought of something vulgar in the eyes of the culture, the way that she smiles with what I associate as a great virtue (another whole set of cultural value hierarchies) then I decide (a thought) at some point "you are the most beautiful person. I love you."
  7. This whole time my body is developing a body-memory with this person. It is feeling pleasurable feelings associated with imagination: "How nice we will be growing old. How important we will look to my exes. How amazing it will be to discover hobbies together..." Each of these thoughts create pleasurable chemicals in the body which themselves become familiar. Meaning, that every set of pleasurable chemicals my body has with someone I like is a different mix of chemicals and muscle sensations. I feel "this way" with X and "this other way with "Y" and after a time these sensations are conscious enough that "I know how I feel around you" can be stated - which is a thought that is paired with a complex set of body sensations.
  8. When the pleasurable (and in situations of trauma and PTSD the negative) sensations, thoughts and feelings become something that I say "I want, I'm in love with, and I value highly," it results in the elevation of the memory of a person above the feelings that I am having. In other words, there is a choice or mixer within the body and conscious mind that consists of:

    a) How much of my moment right now is drawn from the past, future or some reality that is not here.
    b) How much of my moment right now is drawn from the sensations, thoughts
    and feelings around me right now?

When a relationship with a lover is intimate enough, it is possible to set this mix to one where 80% of my focus is on my lover, whether they are here or not, and 20% of my focus is on my outer reality. Thus the phenomena of being pulled over by a cop and feeling so "grateful" that we are on the way to see our lover and the ticket barely matters - we may even comment happily to the cop "I can't wait to see my lover so I'm rushing," and not be bothered with their reply. Because we are "in love," a state of dwelling on our inner memories, projections and anticipations and remembered body sensations that leads to actually feeling the same way we feel around our lover because our body goes into that state just when we think of her.

So if there is a difference between feelings and emotions, and emotions are those things which have become internalized, then (PTSD is something that is not voluntary so needs it's own distinction) they are feelings that we have chosen to internalize through memory of our body/heart/mind map around a given person, place or event. We do the same thing with "home" which is an inner driven map of remembered feelings.

It suggests several things:


  1. You can have thoughts and feelings without emotions, but cannot have emotions without thoughts and feelings.
  2. Emotions are more complex relationships with a pattern of thoughts and feelings.
  3. It takes time for emotions to develop, but a bay can have a feeling.
  4. It suggests that our feelings and emotions are hugely influenced by culture, which has it's own complex series of patterns.

I'd love to hear what else you think this suggests - and why it is that in our culture we don't bother teaching the single most valuable skill a conscious free being can have: the skill of creating and then harnessing feelings - and the physical sensations they create - to create every facet of our world.