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A neuroscientist reveals the crucial difference between feelings and emotions

Do you also have a problem with emotions and feelings? Getting them confused, or thinking they are two words for the same experience?

Do you also sometime surprise yourself with utterly childish behavior? You thought you were this adult, but suddenly, out of the blue you miserable, everyone makes you miserable and you feel you have failed at life.

Welcome to the club. You are not alone, and thankfully there are some clever people around to explain ourselves to ourselves.

For the first time ever, I understand the difference between feelings and emotion.

I learned the nitty gritty of this important distinction from a Ted Talk given by Dr. Alan Watkins, founder of Complete Coherence. We’ve been talking about it all day at the Hack Spirit office.

His talk is about understanding why you feel what you feel so that you can take control and not feel like a victim. We have to understand that no one can make us feel anything, we create that ourselves.

A neuroscientist by background and an international expert on leadership and human performance. Watkins takes us through the key phases of human development and explains why poor emotional control is holding us back.

In his talk he comes to a point in our development, round about midlife, where we experience what is called “the disease of meaning”. We suddenly wake up to the realization that we have followed all the rules, and yet we are unhappy. Why? Watch the video and see him eloquently give us the answer.

Here’s the key point.

Emotions and feelings not the same. Emotions are energy in motion – composite biological signals like a fast beating heart or sweaty palms. Watkins says we all have emotions every single moment of every single day but we don’t necessarily feel it. Feelings are the awareness in our minds of the energy. So the energy is there, but we don’t necessarily feel it and that’s where we are stuck: we have not really learned to understand our own emotional life.

It gets even more interesting.

If we want to transform our lives, we have to understand that ultimately emotions will predict our health, personal sense of well being, success, fulfillment, motivation and decisions. If you don’t know anything about them, then life is a little bit of a lottery.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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