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What are Emotions?

Updated on May 8, 2018
Jewels profile image

Julie has been undertaking spiritual work for 18 years and imparts her knowledge of meditation and inner experiences through her writing.

The soul has been labeled as that part of us that embodies emotion. And so it does. But what is not explained in more detail is that the soul is a massive part of us that gives us the potential to be a creative force in our human condition. (In some models of teachings the soul encompasses thoughts as well as emotion, as the two are difficult to separate).

It would not be unwarranted to split the term soul into two levels, that of lower mode and a higher mode.

Emotions are reactions and are triggered by an event that is usually cause for trauma, whether that trauma be dramatic or a small pull of unease. You may have heard the saying Emotion = energy in motion. If you hold onto a trauma, ie it remains unresolved, then energy is caught, and the flow of energy is stopped. That's a very simple concept to understand.

If traumas remain trapped it's because you did not have the mechanisms or know how to deal with them, you can become embittered in some form and the result is a continual reaction. The emotion can remain dormant until someone comes along and triggers the same trauma and off you go again with another reaction. It becomes a circle and in time the initial reason is usually long forgotten, your trauma becomes an unconscious part of your soul, an unresolved issue if you will. Unresolved traumas create a grasping in your body and can result in a tactile feeling of pain.

The feeling of compassion is often overtaken by emotion. Say a friend lost their mother, for example, you stand with your friend during her time of loss. If you get drawn into the grief, then this is no longer compassion. You have become emotional for your own reasons. You have gone from a feeling of holding your friend in a state of compassion, to having an emotional reaction. You think you are crying for your friend, poor thing, losing her mother, how sad. In fact you are crying for your own sense of loss. Even if you have not lost your mother, you react as if you have. The mind gets involved and gives a distorted perception of what it would be like to actually lose your mother. It's a reaction, it's an emotion. There is a clear difference between a feeling of compassion, and an emotional reaction to loss.

A way of helping to discern between an Emotion and a Feeling is to watch the mechanisms. Emotions have an action, they are volatile, like anger and jealousy, passionate love is an emotion, sadness, grief, even uncontrollable laughter is an emotion. It is the result of an action.

A feeling is a state of Being. Joy is a state of being, (not to be mixed up with pleasure as a result of deeds). Enthusiasm is another feeling. Higher love is a feeling. A feeling is not conditional. No wantings, no expectations, just a state of being.

Emotions being reactions can get out of control. So much so that your perception of reality becomes clouded. That serves no one, particularly you. It's unrealistic to walk on this lovely planet without becoming subject to emotions, either yours or someone elses. But how you take your soul into a higher state is to not get dragged into the emotional pit, but find ways to hold yourself through the human journey without being blown to the four winds. No easy feat for many of us.

The higher level of the soul would be reserved for that state where emotions do not sway decisions. You remain centered no matter what. You feel and deal with whatever sensations and situations come your way.

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    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      5 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. Empathy is a powerful force indeed.

    • profile image

      SaritaJBonita 

      5 years ago

      Interesting Hub! I think the distinction between emotions and feelings is important, because they certainly are two different things. I don't, however, think that it's always a bad thing to combine the two.

      In the example of comforting a grieving friend, having your own vulnerabilities due to your own experiences in some ways helps to comfort your friend. You've been there, and can empathize with how s/he is feeling. In shutting off our own emotions to help another person, I think we are instead distancing ourselves in a negative way.

      Nobody comes into a situation with a blank slate. We all have various life experiences and traumas, and we all have different ways of either dealing with them or stuffing them down. Either way, it's not always a bad thing to allow our emotions to influence us. Allowing them to influence us solely for our own good is generally selfish, but allowing them to influence us in order to have empathy for others is, in my opinion, a good thing.

      Great Hub, Jewels!

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Thankyou dablufox, appreciate your feedback. I've been doing transformation work for over 10 years now, both on myself and for clients. I'm a counsellor by trade, and dabble in writing!

    • dablufox profile image

      dablufox 

      7 years ago from Australia

      A very inspirational, educating and helpful hub. Are you a psychologist? I feel much better now that I have read this, I feel I owe you something for the weight you have taken from my shoulders and the greater understanding I know have of what my emotions really are.

      Thank you very much, I will be reading more of your hubs!

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      8 years ago from Australia

      I can see how there are grey areas in these two responses - feelings and emotions. In self awareness it becomes necessary to separate the two. Eg, hurt is a feeling, the reaction to it is an emotion. And I agree, whatever the descriptive word, resolve is required.

    • tissuematter profile image

      tissuematter 

      8 years ago

      Semantics maybe but I've always perceived feelings as what is created in our physical bodies that if we are unaware we react to.

      Emotions I've view as the transport, communication, sharing one soul does with another outside the physical realm.

      Whatever word we choose to describe either when we don't fully explore and resolve emotion or feeling we become stuck until we are ready to.

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for dropping in Lamme, and for the compliment. Appreciated.

    • Lamme profile image

      Lamme 

      8 years ago

      What an excellent explanation between feelings and emotions. You're a wonderful writer.

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      8 years ago from Australia

      There is indeed traumas caught in the body, latent and yet to be explored. The word Samskara is the term used for scars of the mind in the Hindu tradition, or deep impressions. Emotions are in most cases the cause of reactions, often unconscious reactions. People are walking around with a good bag full of these samskaras, having no idea of their root causes. And yes, reactions can be like a volcano - you just never know when they are going to erupt.

      There is a technique called Inner Space Techniques which deals directly with these Samskaras, sourcing the root causes to emotions, in addition to the unfolding of the real Ego (higher self) underneath them.

      Thanks for dropping in Tom.

    • Tusitala Tom profile image

      Tom Ware 

      8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I've been told that emotions are the body's reactions to particular thoughts. This would infer that a lot of 'bad stuff' is held within the body. And so it is: the 'mind-body' is made up of a very wide/deep spectrum of frequencies. The sankharas of Buddhist philosphy are held within these mind-bodies.

      As I said earlier, such descriptions as yours come down to semantics. What you understand as 'feelings' is not the same as the writer of that hit-song 'Feelings.'

      Emotions lie dormant from the viewpoint of their not always be discerned. Bit like a volcano. Might not even be any smoke, but the activity still goes on below. This is why post trauma often doesn't manifest until years after a traumatic event.

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      8 years ago from Australia

      To work at a level of inner alchemy it would pay to understand emotions in the realm of reactions. Feelings can trigger emotions for example.

    • Tusitala Tom profile image

      Tom Ware 

      8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I guess it's a matter of samantics, Jewels. You could say that with emotions, one identifies with something, a craving or aversion of some kind, whereas a feeling can be felt as pleasant or unpleasant but it is simply that. There are no links - at least at the conscious level - to anything or any thing, in particular.

      We're getting into very abstract stuff here, of course, so we might not be communicating with great accuracy.

      Love you Hubs.

      Tom.

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 

      8 years ago from Australia

      And there I was thinking my emotions were complicated enough already! ;)

      thanks for the hub

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 

      8 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      Hello Jewels! Have been missing you and decided to come and visit you! WOW! What a GREAT HUB!!! Thank you! Blessings!!! Come and visit me when you get a chance. Luv Luv

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Hi Lee. Absolutely - feeling it prevents blocking = flow.

    • Lee Thacker profile image

      Lee Thacker 

      8 years ago

      well said well said....focus on the feeling of the emotion ...yes!

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Hi Jess. Thanks, yes we need to always be able to feel, yet it's the emotions we need to get more control over. They often get mixed up.

    • Jess Killmenow profile image

      Jess Killmenow 

      8 years ago from Nowheresville, Eastern United States

      Fascinating. This is indeed a very useful way to think of feelings and emotions. Thanks for writing it, Jewels! :)

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Hello Disturbia, wonderful you dropped by.

    • Disturbia profile image

      Disturbia 

      8 years ago

      This hub is amazing!

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Hi lorlie6, you are most welcome. Feelings and emotions often get mixed up, often not separated at all. Glad you came to visit.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Love this break-down (no pun intended!) and clarification-thanks...

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Thanks from dropping in wrenfrost56, glad it helped.

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 

      8 years ago from U.K.

      Thank-you for this jewels I really enjoyed it, gave me lot's to think about and gave me a better understanding of emotions and how to deal with them.

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Paulina, you're giving me goosebumps. Wonderful this hub helped you and thank you for your feedback.

    • profile image

      Paulina 

      8 years ago

      This post really helped me find my way. I can feel the transfer of energy, from when I let go of the bad to seeing who picks up on it as well. It's interesting. I am now learning how to cope with my true feelings, instead of the mess that comes from following emotions. Thank you for sharing your extremely valuable information. Even when you say it's an easy concept to understand, you'd be surprised how confusing it can be and how much you've helped by pointing it out.

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      9 years ago from Australia

      Most welcome vitaeb, thank you for your comments.

    • vitaeb profile image

      vitaeb 

      9 years ago from Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

      Yes, I believe it is valuable to one's health to understand the difference between one's emotional life and one's feeling life. Knowing how emotions arise from the mental process, and are therefore subject to evaluation and transformation, offers one the freedom to grow and become united with one's heart felt feelings, which are expressions of the soul. Thank you for you discourse.

    • Jewels profile imageAUTHOR

      Jewels 

      10 years ago from Australia

      Grasped emotions are the basis of a person's neurosis. It pays, therefore not to be emotional for too long.

    • profile image

      Howhigh 

      10 years ago

      emotions allow one to grasp. A concept (trauma) or a good deed, its a way of processing information. In its grasping though, it is bound. Your emotions cannot teach you how to feel.

      on the other hand, feelings allow one to let go, it is an different way of accepting reality that comes from a deeper place within the soul.

      Emotions are feelings that are being outsourced to understand something shocking good or bad. Getting caught up in one's emotional response and then preventing or seeking these emotions insulates yourself from your true feelings. In a sense someone who follows their emotions will live in a different world than those who follow their feelings. The emotional getting more and more detached and in their own world.

      great post jewels.

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