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Difference Between Emotions and Feelings

Emotions and feelings are often spoken of as being one and the same, and it’s easy to get them mixed up and confused. Although related, there is a difference between emotions and feelings, and they both serve us in their own unique way.

So, why should you be concerned with the difference between emotions and feelings anyway? Because the way you behave in this world, is the end result of your feelings and emotions. Learning the difference can provide you with a better understanding of not only yourself,  but of the people around you.

What are Emotions?

According to both Carl Jung and Social Anthropologist Abner Cohen, objects draw and invoke emotions. This is a natural phenomenon, and is essential for human survival. When you encounter an unknown, you may have a range of sensations such as: curiosity or fear. When you give that unknown a name, it becomes a significant symbol of meaning.

It is through this process that emotions become attached to every object in the universe. When some object is given a name, it not only becomes a “thing”, it also becomes something of “meaning”. On a daily basis these emotions can be as subtle as: “like”, “dislike” or “ambivalence” (even a state of ambivalence is nevertheless a state of meaning). Therefore, as J. E. Cirlot stated it: Nothing is meaningless or neutral: everything is significant..

Emotions deliver the abstract, metaphysical idea or message: “The external world (beyond your body) matters”. Art is a solid example of this. A work of art represents the artist’s own emotional perspective of life. What the artist values in life, and the choices they made are the results of his or her likes/dislikes and the emotions attached to them.

Your sense of life is an emotional form, in which your world experience finds value, your reason for existence and defines your relationship with other things that exists. Emotions are an abstract, metaphysical state of mind; they are essential impressions of the world, and your relationship with it. Emotions establish your attitude toward reality, and provides your drive for all of life’s pleasures.

Additionally, these emotions are connected to your biological systems, and are designed to alert you of danger, or to draw you to something pleasurable. If you did not possess emotions, you would carelessly walk right up to a lion in the Savanna wilderness. If starving, you would not have the motivation needed to climb a tree, and pick it’s fruit to eat.

Protection of Body Identity Through Emotion.

To illustrate this principle, let’s use the encounter with a lion in the Savanna wilderness.

  1. Awareness. You must first be aware of an object’s presence. Your awareness of the lion is an emotional eliciting stimulus.
  2. Body Change. These changes are in the form of innate body signals. In this example it is fight or flight. Adrenaline begins coursing throughout the bloodstream, your muscles are ready for action. Your heart rate and breathing also increases.
  3. Interpretation. You must interpret the correct reaction in order to preserve your identity. Based upon all the available information in your surroundings, as well as any previous learned knowledge or skill, will you take flight, or will you stay and fight?
  4. Action. Now you execute your decision.

Change of Context, Change of Emotion.

Imagine the same scenario except now, you are in the zoo, and there are bars between you and the lion. Your sensations may range anywhere from curiosity, to appreciation or admiration over the beauty of the animal. More than likely, fear would not be present. Your new awareness now includes the bars, which provide the emotional idea of separation, and protection.

Protection of Mind Identity Through Emotion.

To illustrate, imagine that you found a love letter in your spouses coat from a co-worker in the office.

  1. Awareness. You become aware that a life altering situation exists by reading the content of the letter. Your awareness of a “love letter” to your spouse is an emotional eliciting stimulus.
  2. Body Change. You feel your body react. Adrenaline begins coursing throughout your bloodstream, your muscles tense up for action. Your heart rate and breathing drastically increase. You begin to perspire, and feel sick to your stomach.
  3. Interpretation. You must interpret the correct reaction in order to preserve your identity. You begin to process the situation cognitively, drawing on all of your knowledge that applies to the moment. You become angry due to the betrayal. Based upon your personal beliefs, life goals, and the degree of importance of the betrayal, you make a decision on how to confront the situation.
  4. Action. Now you execute your decision.

Change of Context, Change of Emotion.

Now, imagine that you discover that the letter was in fact given to your spouse by a distraught co-worker, who found it in their spouses coat. Your interpretation of the meaning of the letter has now changed. Anger gives way to relief.

Your sense of identity is physical but at the same time mental. Both of the above example illustrate how emotions serve as a trigger to ensure survival of self, but it is the second example that illustrates a far more important point.

You have a sense of mental identity in the form of unchanging beliefs that you identify with. It is this cluster of ideas that are essential in order to preserve your sense of “self”. It is the: “who you are” in the world that you must protect at all costs.

As a spouse living in a particular culture and economic environment, you must preserve the dignity of self as defined by that culture. Dignity comes in the form of an Authentic state of wholeness, with all its frailties and inadequacies. Regardless of the errors you make in life, you must maintain a sense of a single self.

Finally, emotions are intense but temporary. To have them be any other way would be far too stressful on your body! The constant stress would eventually lead to some very serious physical, and mental ailments.

What are Feelings?

As the objects in your world induce emotions within you, they are collected in the subconscious and begin to accumulate. This is especially so when similar events are repeatedly experienced. Ultimately they form a  final emotional conclusion about life, how to live it, and more importantly, how to survive physically and mentally in a world of chaos. When this happens a feeling is born. In this way, emotions serve as a sort of, “Feelings Factory”.

Once feelings are established, they often feed back into your emotions to produce the appropriate result to insure survivability.

Imagine you observe your child approaching an electrical outlet with a paperclip in hand. Your sustained feeling of love for your child, will generate the temporary emotion of fear, and you quickly act by yelling “No!” and swatting your child’s hand away from the outlet. Perhaps your child responds with surprise and anger, and defiantly attempts to insert the paperclip into the outlet again. Your sustained feeling of love for your child, may generate the temporary emotion of anger because your child is expressing stubbornness, and disrespect to your attempts at preserving his or her life.

Here is another example. Imagine that a professional snake handler offers you an opportunity to hold a snake. You may project the “Joy”, of touching the snake, because you really want the experience and the sensations that go along with it. However, you have difficulty moving past the”Fear”, of potentially getting bit. Your solution? To approach the situation with great caution. Caution is a sustainable feeling that is the balance point between two temporary, emotional potentialities. Namely, that of “Fear”, and “Joy”.

Feelings are products of emotions. But unlike short term, intense emotions, feelings are: low-key, stable and sustained over time.

The Differences of Emotions and Feelings in a Nutshell:

Feelings tell us “how to live.”
Emotions tell us what we “like” and “dislike.”
Feelings state:”There is a right and wrong way to be.
Emotions state:”There are good and bad actions.”
Feelings state:“your emotions matter.”
Emotions state:”The external world matters.”
Feelings establish our long term attitude toward reality.
Emotions establish our initial attitude toward reality.
Feelings alert us to anticipated dangers and prepares us for action.
Emotion alert us to immediate dangers and prepares us for action
Feelings ensure long-term survival of self. (body and mind.)
Emotions ensure immediate survival of self. (body and mind.)
Feelings are Low-key but Sustainable.
Emotions are Intense but Temporary.
Happiness: is a feeling.
Joy: is an emotion.
Worry: is a feeling.
Fear: is an emotion.
Contentment: is a feeling.
Enthusiasm: is an emotion.
Bitterness: is a feeling.
Anger: is an emotion.
Love: is a feeling.
Lust: is an emotion.
Depression: is a feeling.
Sadness: is an emotion.


What Does This All Mean For You Personally?

The difference between emotions and feelings is crucial to your personal growth. If you are dissatisfied in your life, know that there is really nothing wrong with you, and there is nothing to fix. Rather, there is only something to discover about yourself. The practice of Psyphology: psy·phol·o·gy (pronounced sahy-fol-uh-jee) is one of the few methodologies that makes a distinction between emotions and feelings and it can aid you in that discovery. The uniqueness of your feelings can provide you with a new understanding, that can lead to many positive changes for you.


  1. Dustin Harper says:

    How can happiness be a feeling while sadness is an emotion?

    • Dustin Harper…This was exactly my question!!

      • John Voris says:


        I wanted to apologize to you directly for not getting back earlier. As I explained to Dustin, we have had many changes taking me away from time to respond.

        I hope my response to Dustin satisfies your curiosity.

        I look forward to any response you may have as well.


    • John Voris says:


      Sorry for taking so long to get back. We have had many corporate changes. Thanks for your patience.

      With the word “happiness” as we are using it here, there is no single focused cause.

      Ask anyone if they are happy and they usually say; well, I guess so; yea, things are OK; sure I’m getting by etc. There is nothing specific.

      When you ask someone why he or she is sad, there is always a very different response. This person will be able to identify the exact reason for their sadness.

      Divorces, deaths, catastrophes and much more, can make any mentally healthy person sad.

      Therefore, sadness is event driven and temporary, making it an emotion.

      Keep in mind, sadness is very different from clinical depression.

      I hope this has helped.

      I look forward to any comment you may have.


      • i get the distinction btwn sadness & Joy.

        sadness needs context
        Joy is Inner

        • John Voris says:


          Both sadness and joy are emotions that are event driven and temporary. In either case, both emotions require a context that originate internally. Emotions are about the interaction with external objects, people, or events. Depression however, does not require an object. It is a sustained FEELING that often has presence without even conscious awareness.

      • But sometimes I am sad but do not have exact reason for it….

    • leif kemp says:

      Because even if you are sad, you can mentally choose to change your attitude in regards to how you respond to sadness. You can indulge it and go deeper, or you can say, “no, I don’t WANT to live in sadness. I want to live another way. What do I need to change in order for that to be true?”

      • Leif Kemp

        Unless pathology is present, our normal feelings and emotions are symptoms of internal reactions to real external causes that need to be addressed.

        When we cut our finger, we don’t choose to ignore the pain nor focus on its intensity. We do something to reduce the pain and we dress the wound. Most importantly, we stop doing what caused the cut or if we need to return to that activity, we employ preventative measures.

        Self-awareness is the beginning step for solving most of our issues.

    • RonnieAwesome says:

      I realize your post is over a year old, but I believe the best way to understand this is to look at the relationship between Happiness and Joy. I believe you’re mistaking joy for happiness. In the technical sense at this moment, regardless of how you use it in your personal daily life, happiness is meant as a consistent state of being (despite the ups and downs caused by temporary emotions), whereas joy is something you experience temporarily (even though you may use the phrase “I’m happy” to express your joy in your daily life). From there, it’s pretty obvious how sadness is no longer the opposite of happiness you once thought it was.

      • Ronnie,

        Thank you for your interest.

        I would like to know the difference between your statement and the article. Happiness has consistency whereas joy is temporary as I said.

        I did not say sadness is the opposite of happiness but rather depression.

        Please tell me if my observation is incorrect.

        • What an interesting discussion.
          I agree with RonnieAwesome. I have a personal peeve with the term happiness and our culture of happiness seekers.
          I think people today use the word as you may be describing it, but I think our use of it is inappropriate given it’s root meaning. Happiness comes from Hap which means luck or chance. Happenstance and Happen also share that root.
          Happiness is something that happens to you, whereas I choose and create my joy and I am joyous even when sad because joy is a state of being.

          • John Voris says:


            Thank you for your interest and bringing yet another reason forward as to why this article is our most popular.

            As Shakespeare once said, “ What’s in a name? That which we call a rose would smell as sweet.” I would not be concerned if science wants to call laugher a feeling and our deeper beliefs an emotion if they were consistent. As it is, publications still interchange the meaning of these terms even in one sentence. Unfortunately, the distinction between them is crucial in understanding ourselves and in initiating personal long-term change. Experts in many fields of behavior agree that our deep feelings come from an unchanging pervasive abstract belief about life that holds our identity together, while our emotions are changing physically based, reactionary expressions to life events.

            We also consult word sources: The Oxford English Dictionary not only offers the etymology of words but more importantly, it traces how the meaning of words changes throughout history as most do. Today, the word happiness is not used to mean luck as it once did but rather as our inner abstract sense of “well-being.” It is a sustained, general subconscious state of mind like the feeling of loving our children. It is always present and ready to show itself when the time comes.

            External events can only trigger these deeper feelings that are already present within us or augment them. For some, receiving an increase in wages can elevate our sense of self-worth while others may feel the increase is insulting. Both attitudes are based on a personal pre-existing biased belief. If external events were the exclusive cause of our happiness, then repeating those events would always cause happiness for us and for everyone else.

            Beliefs and our feelings about them are what give meaning to what we value. Value does not occur alone in the physical world but rather we project our internal and individual meaning of value upon the physical world. This explains why some lottery winners rejoice in their winnings and plan on how their lives will now improve, while others believe this money can only cause misery and give it away as soon as possible. Their behavior is based on personal beliefs about money and its value. The emotions they express are more associated with genetic and biological design than social influence. Happiness however, can be both an abstract conscious and unconscious state of mind that we feel from time to time. This is why we can feel content in the absence of a physical event as the cause.

            You choose and create your joy. This is what most of us strive to do in life. That is, your inner choosing results from projecting the value of what you call joy upon your career. However, calling joy and sadness a state of being makes happiness and depression a temporary emotion that is counter to conventional thinking.

            As a result, happiness is not something that happens to us but rather we have the state of mind to permit happiness to occur given our pre-set beliefs.

          • John Voris says:


            One last point. This frustration with how language is misused has been here for a while. Mortimer J. Adler, Chairman of the Board of Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica express this conflict when he wrote: “In the tradition of Western thought the word ‘emotion’ is generally misused for feelings and sentiments–in general, for affects.”

    • Hey Dustin its just a play of words or I wud say bit inappropriate to explain.
      I believe you got stuck on it.
      So simple terms sad is an emotion, whereas above depression is nothing but sustained sadness

      • John Voris says:


        I agree. Much of this is the misuse of words but they do have consequences.

        And, yes many of our Feelings are sustained Emotions.

        • Could an emotion be described as a reaction to a stimulus (thing, person, environment etc)that is reasonably temporary, able to be changed by shifting focus, point of view or proximity, and a feeling as something that is deeper, more complex in definition, sometimes less easily understood in relation to immediate situation or environment, and is partly what drives or inspires us into connecting with life more consistently. The fulfillment or otherwise of such a feeling, drive or desire being a source of energy or lack of, and affect those thoughts and feelings about ourselves that lead to how we feel about ourselves and our life, and thus our general wellbeing?

          • John Voris says:


            All emotional experiences are in reaction to external stimulus first and then stored in our conscious or subconscious memory depending on there importance. Since emotions are temporary, we often shift our focus and rapidly change these emotions to deal with the changing environment.

            Feelings however, are based on our inner sustained conscious and subconscious sense of morality and ethics as our ultimate criteria for motivation. That is, our sense of lack ignites our moral and ethical sense of “ought” and “ought-not,” driving our compulsion to desire. This sense of lack and desire, are the catalysts that motivate us beyond what language can describe.

            Yes, this continued process is the source of energy affecting our thoughts about ourselves and our wellbeing.

            You have a good grasp of how emotions and feelings function as the criteria for our individual purpose and happiness. This understanding alone can change anyone’s life for the better.

          • My understanding is Feelings are how we are affected from external sources on a day to day basic, how we react to situations ie someone being rude or recieving a compliment, it arrouses a feeling/reaction inside us.
            Whereas emotions are deep down inside of us, something that we have buried and only comes up to visit us when we feel fear and or deep love.

            • John Voris says:


              Your comment is very common which is why I wrote this article. I have researched the definitions of both “feeling and “emotion” in “a psychiatric glossary;” The Meaning of Terms Frequently used in Psychiatry,” and; the “Handbook of Psychological Terms: a compilation of various medical and psychology dictionaries, as well as other texts written by academics. Most of these books do not even list “feelings” as a topic and when they do, they are identified as emotions. Yet, emotions and feelings are very different.

              How do you feel about abortions, the death penalty, socialism, patriotism, politics, religion etc? Once you give your reasons, you must finally rest upon your moral and ethical convictions that are beyond our logic. They are our deeper fundamental feelings belonging to our identity.

              An external source is not necessary for anyone to feel a certain way about the above topics or any category of ideology. This is one aspect that separates feelings from emotions. Emotions demand external sources whereas feelings are sustained internal states.

              Emotions are hard-wired through our neural and chemical systems. An emotion can be accessed from body language and inferred from looking at brain scans. Deeper feelings cannot. That is why feelings are often dismissed in academic settings since the Psychiatric Associations demands that the scientific method be used in all psychiatric research.

              What if your mother was rude to you? Do you emote and become angry–maybe. Or do you feel she is simply being herself and move on? What you feel about the person, the issue, your intent, their intent etc, usually determines if you will become emotional in the first place.

              The best example is a parent’s feelings toward his or her children. The love we have for them is a consistent, stable, and a fundamental feeling of being a parent. We can also be angry with them at the same time. An event is not necessary for us to feel our love for them but, anger for example, demands an event. This innate feeling most parents possess are seldom affected by an external event. How often do parents of serial killers insist their son is a good boy?

              So again, emotions are immediately effected by external sources on a day-to-day basis, and it is our feelings that offer a conscious and subconscious foundation.

    • Jatinder Singh says:

      I think happiness here has been used for compassion. Joy and sadness are emotions. When thoughts interact with emotions, feelings arise.

      • John Voris says:


        Happiness is an individual experience whereas compassion demands two people. Thoughts and emotions may trigger pre-existing feelings but not create them.

        • I both agree and disagree, respectfully of course, that “thoughts and emotions may trigger pre-existing feelings but not create them.” This is true until we reach a very in-depth sense of self-awareness as adults because from the womb to six years old, our minds are in a low-level theta state of hypnotic absorption without any conscious discernment. A child between these ages has no electrical readout of what we consider a conscious state of mind and therefore openly accepts all experience, beliefs, common emotions and feelings from those around.

          Since this process starts outside conscious awareness, it is difficult as adults to know how and where to start learning about all these things inside of us. I have started writing a book on beliefs right now and am going through an intense period of self-discovery and restructuring. I agree with your conception that feelings are more stable over the long-term while emotions are fleeting and for immediate use.

          The reason our feelings are stable is because they are interwoven with the belief system. If you can alter your belief system, you can alter those generally stable feelings with thought and emotion.

          I love this article, by the way! Very inciteful and a needed distinction between feeling and emotion. What are your ideas about the use of feeling and attitude as interchangeable terms? Both refer to a generally stable sense of feeling and emotional expression.

          • Clark,

            Thank you for your comments.

            “The reason our feelings are stable is because they are interwoven with the belief system. If you can alter your belief system, you can alter those generally stable feelings with thought and emotion.”

            What you said above is true regarding the conscious side of the mind. What I am ultimately referring to is however, the subconscious mind; the other half of the mind; the bed of a priori knowledge and the collective unconscious. Notice when we speak, we do not need to first rehearse what we are about to say. Our speaking seems to come from “nothing” language can describe. We often surprise ourselves. How is this possible? This is evidence that there is a psychic energy source beneath the conscious that directs our general behavior while our specific behavior occurs in conscious choice.

            May I suggest that our awareness of feelings link the conscious mind with the subconscious. To paraphrase David Hume, logic and reasons are slaves of our passions. Our passions are the cause of what we “choose” to believe. However, these passions are generated from our innate blueprint of our psyche offering a scope or range of passions that are expressible. While we can change specifically what we believe, that change will always remain with the scope dictated by the our psychic blueprint. This is why many are constantly involved in the self-help industry. They are desperately trying to alter what they believe hoping to alter their feelings with thought and emotion. Yet, they are not aware that the change they desire is beyond their innate pre-set scope of potential feelings, attitudes and beliefs.

            I welcome your response.

  2. Your statement, “Nothing is ever meaningless” provoked my thinking.

    After pondering your words for awhile, It hit me, naming creates meaning.

    Before something is named by me, it is nothing to me and has no meaning for me. Everything in my life that carries any meaning for me, whatsoever, does so because I first named it, whether that something be a “physical” something or it is an “emotional or feeling” something.

    That is some powerful stuff right there!!!

  3. Deborah Spagnuolo says:

    Great chart differentiating between feelings and emotions. This is one I’m going to study carefully.

  4. John Voris says:


    First, thank you for your comment.

    This chart is based on information that has been with us for several hundred years. In fact, Authentic System is based on leaving all conventional thinking and initiating a fresh exploration without bias. This approach has lead to new insights by re-connecting old ideas together then giving them a contemporary application.

    Also, the foundation of European psychotherapy is far more advanced than here in the U.S. because we are still focused on the Aristotelian perspective. Europe left our structured approach in the 1960’s with Existential Psychiatry. With using this existential approach, definitions such as in this chart is far more accurate and consistent.

  5. John Voris says:


    This realization is why many claim that language creates our reality. While this is true, certain political groups object to this observation because it implies geographically determined mental limitations.

    What they do not understand is the dialectic at work whereby each culture sees what the other does not.

    No one is in a superior position. Geography forces specialization of linguistic descriptions for survival.

    Understanding technical computer systems will not help me living in the Florida swamps.

  6. I find this article very interesting :)
    And i agree with the table organization in which happiness is feeling comparing to sadness which is emotion; mostly because happiness relates to “satisfaction”.

    The difference between happiness and satisfaction is very debatable since happiness is actually a sociocultural term (product) of nurture that represents the satisfaction as biologically basic one.

  7. Lisa Gordon says:

    I find this chart one of the most accurate and useful pieces of information I have come across in a long while.

    I have worked in the service delivery field for many years and I have tried to convey the vast difference between emotions and feelings on many an occasion.

    There are four areas that I have studied and come to conclude that let us know we are experiencing an emotion versus a feeling, they are our cognition (thoughts associated with the event/situation),behavior(how we act out, i.e., tapping of fingers when we become angry, the heart throb from seeing an intimate loved one, crying re: a situation), physical (heart racing, headache, palms sweating) and finally (I drew a bland on the fourth one but I will surely come back with it). Each of these areas are red flag indicators that we are experiencing an emotion.

    • John Voris says:


      Thanks for your comment.

      Emotions and feelings are very different but as of the 1970s, they were not studied separately within the field of psychology. Apparently, they could not generate empirical demarcations sufficient to study.

      However, cognitive manifestations of emotions are driven by our preexisting feelings. This enables us to spank a child through anger because we love them. The love is the sustained feeling antecedent to the consequent emotion of anger.

      Biologically induced emotions are of course driven by our preexisting neurology.

      For me, it would be hard to place emotions and feelings within the domains you mentioned. It does sound challenging and if you find an adequate solution, please keep me posted.

      If you have another comments please don’t hesitate to communicate them.

      Thanks again.

  8. good one! my understanding is as follows:
    1. the relationship between feeling & emotion is similar to the relationship between temperature and hot & cold(degree of temperature).
    2. feeling + meaning(or mind) = emotion.
    3. feeling is subtle, emotion is gross.
    4. feeling is internal, emotion is external.
    pl let me have your views on this

    • John Voris says:

      1. The relationship between feeling & emotion is similar to temperature and the relationship between hot & cold.
      A: Good insight!
      2. Feeling + meaning (or mind) = emotion.
      A: Feeling occurs as the result of pre-conditioned meaning generated by past emotional responses.
      3. Feeling is subtle, emotion is gross.
      A: This is also on the mark!
      4. Feeling is internal, emotion is external.
      A: You got it! Good perspective.

  9. Buammar says:

    I was looking for this subject since long time…

    Many thanks John

  10. They say LOVE is NOT a feeling…but here it does :O

    • John Voris says:

      When I talk of “feeling,” I use it as a sustained state of mind as opposed to a fleeting “emotion.”
      Love is certainly not driven by logic, rational thinking or cognitive reasoning. Might there be another term we could use?

      Here is another example:
      A parent can live miles away. In a normal healthy relationship, their children may not think of them very often and when they do, they may have any number of emotions that rise to the surface. Even if they emote anger in the moment, there is still an attachment because of the deeper sustained feeling of love that actually lies beyond linguistic description. In a healthy relationship, parents view their children the same way.

      The point is, our deeper feelings are always present which is not the case with our emotions. If what we are experiencing in a given moment seem temporary or fleeting then it is not love we are truly experiencing in the moment but rather an “emotion” like adoration.

      I hope this makes it more clear for you. But if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to ask. I am always open to alternate ideas.

      • We are very limited by words … There are many types of love and the word love is very general. I believe agape love is the type parents have for children. Romantic love can be more fleeting & people speak of “loving” food, clothing, another’s haircut etc (all temporary). Love can also be a noun OR verb. Perhaps if the chart said “sustained love” or “agape”.

        Another definition Ive heard of love vs fear is that love feels light & expansive whereas fear feels heavy & constricting. I think of them as feelings but I was just watching Gregg Braden video where he said “there are really only two underlying emotions … Love and Fear. I believe he said first your body reacts then your head processes that and it becomes ingrained as a feeling … I can see where it would have a looping effect and the next time the meaning is further ingrained & reaction happens faster. Creating neuron wiring.

        • John Voris says:


          The purpose of the chart was to demonstrate that both feelings and emotions exist and they are different. You are right, there are many types of love. Regardless, love is a feeling which is the point here. I do use agape love in my present lectures, training and assessment sessions.

          There are many emotions. Test it yourself. There is desire, envy, surprise, amusement, anger,defiance, courage and many more that are not connected to either love or fear. Anger is an excellent example; we don’t always love what angers us and we become very brave in the face of fear.

          I also mention that by definition a feeling is sustainable whereas an emotion is not. Finally, we often have strong feelings about things and events without actually having our body go through the experience.

          Any more questions just ask.

  11. fredrick says:

    Thank you for this amazing article .just have a question regarding which part of the body controls feelings and which one does emotions. My galfriend thinks feelings are controled by the heart and emotions by brain, but i think vice versa

    • John Voris says:


      Thanks for your comment.

      The emotions can be tracked physically through techniques that record brain functioning. Emotions are designed to have a physical impact on the body in emergency situations and as a means of expressing to others. Imagine if no one could laugh, cry, exhibit excitement, or reveal many other emotions we experience in others? We could never measure the intensity of either joy or misery others are experiencing.

      Feelings are the mental blue prints of the human condition. With experience feelings are also strengthened from sustained emotions. Feelings become our inner moral convictions we hold in life that guide us through right and wrong. There are many times in life people ask us to do something that we cannot let ourselves do. It is not just we don’t want to–we can’t.

      (The controller of a corporation asked me to steal petty cash with her. She was my boss but still I just couldn’t do it.)

      Here is an example of how emotions and feelings can work together. Imagine your child is crawling to an electric outlet with a metal wire in her hand. You the parent, gently reprimand her and tell her No” and to move away. In defiance, she continues to crawl to the outlet. You say “NO” again. She is still moving toward it holding the metal wire. You get angry and shout “NO” again at her. After still another defiant look the wire is now about to enter the outlet. You get off your chair and smack her hand, taking the wire away now shout again “NO.”

      Your emotion anger tells her of your displeasure in her actions and places your body in readiness for action. But why do you do this? It is first an aspect of the human condition to naturally care for your child. As parenthood continues and develops this feeling moves to a profound love and dedication.

      In that moment of love, you are angry (Temporary emotion) and inflict pain on the very person you’re loving (Sustained feeling) at the moment.

      I hope that helped. If there any other questions don’t hesitate to ask.

      • John, I’m new to this website. Have been thinking about all this for a long time. Lo & behold, there is nothing new under the sun, as you and others have obviously been thinking and writing about this a long time too.

        I have come to the same conclusion as Fredricks’ galfriend. It would seem to me that emotions are a brain thing, and feelings are a heart thing. What you are describing as feelings, I have concluded are actually beliefs, particularly beliefs about oneself.

        Am I way off?

        • DPaul,

          At this level, think of beliefs as the manifestations of deeper feelings.The reason for this is due to the fact that by calling something a belief it can be accessed through reason while feelings are their own criteria. For all practical purposes, they are interchangeable but still feelings have no linguistic parallel.

          • Sudhir Goyal says:

            Hi John,

            I am writing to you from New Delhi India.
            You mention beliefs are manifestations of deeper feelings.
            Now most people in organisations work on the belief system that if you want to get work done faster, you use anger as a tool. Here anger is an emotion which the person is using.
            Now the issue is difference between beliefs as the manifestations of deeper feelings and belief system. I will appreciate your comments on this.

            • John Voris says:


              Your question is somewhat confusing so forgive me if I do not address it directly.

              There are two domains that function as our life’s psychological criteria explaining behavior. Behavior is an effect that can indicates the belief domain. To believe, is to believe about some-thing. That “thing” can be an object or idea. In either case, the focal point is external to the psyche. We then have a posteriori beliefs.

              The second domain, missed in personality profiling, is the psychic energy that is the domain that causes our beliefs. This domain consists of innate feelings a priori, that transcend language yet provokes awareness.

              Using anger as a business tool is done through tyranny. That works provided the power is recognized and the employees needs are dire. The quality of work is seldom the best the employee can produce and subconscious sabotage occurs often along with passive aggressiveness.

              If this is insufficient please comment.

  12. fredrick says:

    Wow thank you for this, that brings more understanding. Wat i get from you is that emotions are temporaly but feelings are there to last, is that the fact?

    • John Voris says:


      Thanks for your continued interest.

      There has been a great deal of emotion/feeling confusion in the field of psychology for decades. We hold the “Western” view of psychology which is different from Europe and Asia. The West demands physical evidence in order for psychology to be considered a science, and ignores most information that does not fit into specific models. The goal is to have behavior later codified into computer language. Europe and Asia however, have a holistic approach that is humanistic, rather than cold and mechanical like the West. Europe and Asia far also more effective in the area of the humanities.

      Feelings design how we should act and emotions design how we want to act. Our sustained morals/feelings about life issues give us attitudinal and behavioral foundational structure. This is where our identity resides whereas our emotions becomes interpreted as our personality.

      So, use our own life as a factual test center. Think of all that you want but also notice there are limits on what you are willing to do to get it. So, have you robbed any banks lately because you wanted more money? Do you steal cars off of car lots because you like that model? No one is stopping you–but you. The moral stands you take in life is your inner identity. (You are a cluster of ideas recalled and forgotten over time) These moral clusters stop Fredrick from being John tomorrow and Ted next week. There is a stable and permanent side of you and a creative flexible side that changes with time.

      Thanks for your interest. Please don’t hesitate to respond.

  13. Thierry Robelin says:

    Hi John,
    I found your article quite interesting. I am currently writing about emotions on my research paper for the school of counseling that I am following.
    I would like to ask you about the reference to Carl Jung’s affirmation “objects draw and invoke emotions”. Could you kindly give the reference to the book or article by Jung?
    Thank you

    • John Voris says:

      Hi Thierry,

      Consult the book, “A Dictionary of Symbols” J.E. Cirlot. In the introduction there is a very good overal approach to the formation of symbols.

      We are not motivated by the “thing” but rather what symbolic meaning we gave it.

      There, Jung reveals the relationship between the rhythm of objects and the symbolic meaning that is designed to trigger emotions.

      Seeing a fawn in the near distance is a “thing” of meaning.
      Seeing an adult lion in the near distance is a “thing” of meaning.

      What they mean to us triggers our emotions which provides the energy to have a passive attitude or a very assertive attitude.

      If we did not attach emotions to objects, we would not be able to properly respond to the objects we encounter.

      I hope this will help.


  14. Can I ask you what are the similarities between emotion and feelings?

    • John Voris says:

      Hi Maryam,

      According to Carl Jung, everything that has a name, is a symbol. A symbol is any physical thing or idea that represents one or more ideas. Symbols motivate us by the emotions and feelings we project upon them and how they impact us. Their job is motivating us in the moment (emotions) and over time (feelings).

  15. hi john, this is really good.. hope this would be so beneficial for all the readers.. thanks.

    God bless,

  16. How is love a feeling and sadness an emotion? The root of emotion is ‘mot’ meaning move. Love in its essence is a verb that demands action. I agree that emotions at times can be intense, but I donot temporarily love my spouse, parents, children, etc…

    Both feeling and disease share the same Greek root ‘path’, showing disease can be clisely related to our feelings. The ‘temporal feeling’ of saddness which can in some cases be the precursor to depression, has in itself bondage toward movement yet, to a lesser degerr than depression. The ‘disease’ of depression tends to leave one stagnant or immobile.

    Depression is a devastating disease, and my intent is in no way to make lite of it. Yet, depression is a ‘temporary feeling.’ A disease that has psychological and physical effects.

    • John Voris says:

      How is love a feeling and sadness an emotion? The root of emotion is ‘mot’ meaning move.

      Yes, an emotion refers to physical agitation as agitation of the body. We can look at someone and see the physical manifestation of sadness for example.

      Love in its essence is a verb that demands action.

      Love standing alone, is in essence an abstract noun and not a verb. When commenting on another person it is a verb. A parent can demonstrate anger toward a misbehaving child yet; still love that child on a deeper and hidden inner level.

      I agree that emotions at times can be intense, but I do not temporarily love my spouse, parents, children, etc.

      Early in my article I state that, “ Emotions and feelings are often spoken of as being one and the same, and it is easy to get them mixed up and confused.” You’re right that emotions can be intense which is why they are physically temporary. Consider: How long can you sustain laughing or crying?

      Both feeling and disease share the same Greek root ‘path’, showing disease can be closely related to our feelings.

      Disease comes from the word “desaaisier” meaning to deprive of ease. Its etymology indicates that it is not necessarily related to feelings or emotions. Much of a population can for example, have the disease called “diabetes” yet victims are often completely unaware of its early presence.

      The ‘temporal feeling’ of sadness which can in some cases be the precursor to depression, has in itself bondage toward movement yet, to a lesser degree than depression.

      When an attitude is temporary it is an emotion. It is not accurate to call a feeling temporary. Also, depression is a serious issue often involving pharmaceutical treatment. Depression can have a major impact on the ability to function in society whereas we all succumb to moments of sadness.

      The ‘disease’ of depression tends to leave one stagnant or immobile.

      Depression is a devastating disease, and my intent is in no way to make lite of it. Yet, depression is a ‘temporary feeling.’ A disease that has psychological and physical effects.

      Sadness is the temporary reduction in mood whereas depression is far more chronic often requiring medical intervention. For example, we can easily experience sadness when being denied entry into our primary college of choice. However once denied, we move on with our second choice and eventual acceptance, erasing our initial sadness. This is why sadness is defined as temporary whereas depression refers to a state that can last for the rest of one’s life.

  17. Dear John
    i found your article on the difference between feelings and emotions very interesting. I still find it difficult to understand the difference but I think I’m getting there.

    I have been involved in coaching men for 20 years.

    My basic philosophy is that men have been taught consciously and unconsciously, by their parents, society and the media, that displays feelings/emotions are not manly. Men have been raised to consider their feelings/emotions as weaknesses to be hidden. Men are taught to be stoic, to endure and not to overtly express their feelings/emotions. This results in repression and emotional detachment from one’s self and others. The biggest consequence of not knowing how you feel, as you so deftly illustrate, is that you lose touch with not only the world but yourself.

    Men develop other external means of making and rationalizing their decisions like logic, religion, politics, cultural mores, public opinion, etc.

    Emotional repression results in stress which creates the potential for any number of physical, psychological and behavioral problems. A recent study suggested that emotional repression may be the chief reason that men die younger than women.

    It is my belief that if men could be more aware of their emotions, and have the freedom to express them as they chose they would be happier, more confident and more successful, because they would know who they really are.

    When you read about a man lifting a car to save his child is that power the result of emotion?

    Would you agree with the basic idea of this philosophy, not necessarily in every detail, and am I using emotions/feelings in a context that you would agree with?

    I look forward to reading your thoughts.

  18. I guess my question is whether the “difference” between feelings and emotions matters?

    If you look at other languages for example Romanian, the word “emotion” is a synonym for “feeling”. There is no differentiation between the two words.

    You can definitely experience conflicting emotions AT THE SAME TIME. You can be angry at a loved one and still love them. Does it matter if we label these “emotions” or “feelings”?

    Isn’t the REAL question whether we can live AUTHENTICALLY and act from that place of being genuine at all times?

    • John Voris says:


      In everyday life it probably doesn’t matter. However, it does make a profound difference if you are researching topics such as human motivation, career selection, intimate and business inner-office team compatibility etc. For example, personality profile test centers admit their results are based on “observables.”

      That is, the subjects base their answers on recalling their visible actions and the attitudes accompanying them. Testing observables measure surface moods, current attitudes and event-driven emotional reactions. These are all effects of the hidden cause generated by our sustained feelings that form our identity found beneath the level of personality. Knowing the difference between an emotion and deep life-motivating feeling is very important.

      Pop-psychologists have relied on this lack of distinction between feelings and emotions to distort and manipulate what can and cannot be changed in people. People often seek out these “change-agents” thinking that everyone can change anything about him or herself.

      In truth, an emotion, learned habit or pattern, is changeable whereas a deep feeling reveals our moral convictions stabilize our identity that cannot change. These feelings enable us to retain our lifetime sense of self as sustained clusters of beliefs that are often beyond our awareness. This is why we often surprise ourselves by our reactions to new situations.

      The fact is, you cannot have conflicting emotions: try to be angry along with the conflicting sense of joy at the same time. That’s why anger is understood as an emotion and love is a feeling. They can be experienced at the same time.

      Isn’t the REAL question whether we can live AUTHENTICALLY and act from that place of being genuine at all times?

      I agree. However, you cannot answer your question without first learning what living authentically looks like for you. If you are reasonably happy and feel that your potential is fully realized, then living authentically is possible for you. If you are like most however, your feeling of happiness is sporadic and you seldom feel your full potential expressed in daily life: this is what our clients report to us as inauthentic living.

  19. “When you encounter an unknown, you may have a range of sensations such as: curiosity, fear, or even ambivalence.”

    These are not sensations. The 5/6 senses create sensations. eg hot/cold,loud/quiet…

    • John Voris says:


      We are not talking about feeling hot or cold. We have been talking about the difference between internally generated “feelings” such as the love a mother has for her child.

      When you encounter an unknown, it is because you have come to this conclusion through your senses. For example, seeing a rattlesnake in your car will trigger your adrenaline and induce action. If it is dark and you open the door you may see “something” moving but not immediately know what it is. Of course you come to this conclusion through your sense of sight.

      These discussions have been focused on internal structures and reactions drawing distinction between these terms on a cognitive level.

      • I heard someone say forgiveness is stronger than love, but I think love is what makes forgiveness possible and the only thing that makes it possible.

  20. I suppose that I would define ones pervasive emotional pattern as their personality/identity (which is not fixed but rather affixed).

    Feelings, could also a term to describe ones subconscious emotional state. eg intuition.

    The body creates sensations.
    The body-mind (conscious awareness) creates emotions relative to our unconscious ‘feelings/personality’.
    The mind then creates the decisions.
    This loops around in a feedback system.

    • John Voris says:


      Emotions are here as a biological mechanism to generate action and are always temporary like laughing and crying. Obviously, crying, laughing, and joy, do not constitute your identity but may reveal it. Also, emotions cannot be sustained to form any identity and your personality is simply the “style” in which your identity finds expression.

      Associating feeling, subconscious and emotion, confuses these terms which is why I wrote the article. They are very different and have different functions.

      Finally, “decisions” may be triggered by our emotions and feelings but constitute an entirely different structure called thinking or intuiting.

  21. Ray Mathis says:

    There’s an old saying, “The trick is to be simple enough to be good”. This wasn’t. It’s a lot of what I like to call needless “mind clutter”. Trying to attach some labels to things and create categories. The important thing is that a kid or an adult has too much of whatever it is, and it’s negatively impacting his/her life, and it ultimately comes from what he/she thinks, or how they choose to look at what happens, themselves, others and life. There’s a lot that can be done to help them with that without going through this dissertation on the difference between a feeling and an emotion.

    • John Voris says:

      Ray Mathis,
      I am always appreciative when I receive a response from an acting academic in the field of discussion–thank you for your interest.

      There is a much older saying, “Know thyself.”

      The article was in response to the confusion and need for an accurate explanation between emotions and feelings and it has become our most popular. When these terms are separated, their individual functions become revealed and real magic begins. My clients learn who they are on two levels: the observable and the unobservable.

      It is very important to know if the desired change is of an emotionally induced and alterable learned belief, or a sustained innate criteria of an inalterable feeling. For example, a loving parent will want to protect their child from harm. This type of love is a natural compulsive sustained feeling. When this parent sets boundaries of behavior for the child, it is done out of this feeling of love and the need to protect the child. When the child disobeys, the parent can become emotionally angry and spank the child. However, this action is still coming from the inner motivating feeling of love.

      Changing a learned belief can be done but only if it is not the manifestation of an innate sustained feeling. It is this innate sustained and encompassing feeling, that the western approach to psychology tends to miss. This is also where trained professionals can miss an opportunity to enhance the quality of life for their clients.

      So, before change can occur, it must be made clear if what is targeted for change is or is not tethered to the unchangeable.

  22. I am interested in this discussion as I am writing a self-help book on communication, feelings and relationships. I am especially interested in your label of “pop-psychologist” and wonder what one has to do or not do in your eyes to be or not be one?

    My models that I write from are system’s theory. Gestalt therapy and Transactional Analysis.

  23. John Voris says:

    For me, “Pop-psychology? is understood as books written exclusively for financial gain (popularity) without concern for internal intellectual integrity.

    These author’s goal is to alter very well known and even obsolete material in a clever way then sprinkle it with pseudoscience to make it appear as innovative, promoting attractive yet unlikely results.

    So, it is not necessarily what theories are being advanced that makes it pop-psychology but rather the obvious manipulative intent inferred by very sloppy research, usually coupled with emotionally packed language.

    Unfortunately, the demands of the scientific method on human behavior has the habit of committing self-sabotage.

    What can be measured physically is always the result, and not the cause. However, empirical evidence is essential to qualify as science.

    Recently the emphasis has been on computability and the codification of the human condition. While science measures the visible, we live and die for the invisible.

    Lastly, I feel that systems theory, Gestalt and Transactional Analysis in the hands of an experienced professional with integrity is something to be admired.

  24. Pastor P. Blessed Isaac Onuetu says:

    So interesting, so real and there is no two ways about it. It enlightens me all the more to teach my congregations based on this topic. Thanks for this wonderful explanation. Bye.

    Pastor P. Blessed Isaac Onuetu

    • John Voris says:

      Pastor P. Blessed Isaac Onuetu,

      Thank you for your generous comments. How people choose to look at life is often inconsistent because we are not taught to separate the significant differences between our feelings and emotions. Personality Profile Exams for example, have been criticized for reporting someone’s emotional responses as their inner identity. That means many people have failed to be hired for a job simply based on their emotional state while taking these tests. The employer still has no idea of their inner motivation.

      I am happy that my information was helpful.

  25. Hello John, I found your article very clear to understand the difference between emotions and feelings, but my question is what to do with this information. Ok now I know the difference but how can we improve them, or control them (Emotions/Feeling) so we can create a more fulfilled life?

    Thanks in advance for your response.

    • John Voris says:


      Power is found in these linguistic distinctions regardless of the topic.

      Because these terms are often melded together as if “feelings” and “emotions” mean the same, it is easy to see the inaccuracy of much of our personal psychological self-assessment. Also, without these distinctions made in most scientific articles, the authors point loses the credibility it deserves upon closer examination.

      We all teach our young children not to run across a busy street, try to grab pot handles on the stove, explore electrical outlets with a piece of metal like a paperclip etc. The internal feeling of love we have for our child is simply present, always ready to come to the surface. This feeling is either expressed or dormant based on the situation.

      What happens when they disobey us? We express the emotion anger not just for their defiance but because we know of the possible horrific consequences that can occur; hit by a car; splash boiling water on their face; or suffer from an electric shock and burn themselves.

      The feeling of love we have for our child is simply an internal presence; always ready to come to the surface. Anger is triggered by external events, and are temporarily experienced.

      Guilt and shame are feeling reactions for behaving or being someone in conflict with their core inner identity. Separating decisions based on our inner feelings from external emotions begins the process of avoiding both guilt and shame and directs us toward expressing our natural gifts.

      Through this process, my clients are able to see their inner motivations and avoid emotional distractions. This is done by following our inner feelings, which many report as their intuitive sense.

      Keep in mind we are not talking about physiological feelings like I feel cold. Nor the emotion fear for example when we are confronted with danger. These are essential for our physical survival.

      Your inner Feelings ensures you will be Mariel for the rest of your life while emotions let you find various ways to express this inn core.

    • John Voris says:


      Knowing the difference between emotions and feelings is also knowing what you can and cannot be changed. This separation is very powerful because this also separates your true identity from how you have learned to respond to life situations.

      Seldom do we explore if our actions are based on being human, being a male or female, being a member of a specific family, being a member of a country, culture, subculture, profession or if our behavior is based on our true unique Identity. Through this process we begin to learn what is the essence of self as our core motivation?

      Just by being aware of our real self anyone can begin to live a more fulfilled life.

  26. Does the above chart contain a complete list of emotions or a short list representing an example of emotions? Are there specific chemicals released in the brain attributed to each emotion? Are feelings induced by electrical impulses, chemical reactions or a combination of both?

    • John Voris says:


      This list is a brief treatment of only those terms that are most used and misunderstood by the public.

      As to your second question, the components of emotions are very complex including adrenaline and epiphenepherin.

      A feeling is very different. How do you feel about your favorite vacation spot? This feeling is a mental cause that the brain registers as a chemical/electrical effect. The brain cannot reveal where you vacationed nor accurately describe your feelings about the events that occurred.

      Feelings are subtle and sustainable whereas emotions are intense and temporary. How long can you laugh, cry or be in a state of fear? These types of electrical impulses and chemical reactions have a very narrow restricted scope of activity and duration.

  27. Thanks for this beautiful article. Am just doing a research on that topic,and i cannot understand how come such an impotent word EMOTION that have such a significant meaning in our self description doesn’t have a proper terminology,there is no way to say i emotion sadness,i can only say i feel sadness or joy or anger way this difference is not accessible to us humans??? this difference is so basic and critical for our “know thy self”,did you know that every year are added to the dictionary 2000 new words?! how come something that must be so elementary stays as a top secret, because lacking of language. i will appreciate very much your response.

    • John Voris says:


      Many share your frustration, which is why this article is the most popular. While this topic is a very complex one with many competitive theories, I recognized that the ultimate result for the consumer is misinformation reported from academia.

      Notice that a psychotherapist on the other hand, will ask a patient after a 20 minute highly emotional tirade: “Ok, what do you really feel about your mother?” A trained professional knows the difference between surface emotion and the internal cause. This question could have also been transformed into “what do you believe about your mother?” The word “feeling” is confusing because it refers to emotions, touch and cognitive reasoning.

      Ludwig Wittgenstein, a very famous philosopher of the 20th century believed, believed that all of psychology is a matter of language and word definition. In fact, the term insane is dependent on: time, country, culture, political climate, religion, science and many other factors. Each perspective is caused by shifting in definition. The people never change.

      Thanks for your intrest.

  28. Thank you so much for a great article!
    I’ve been contemplating this issue for quite a while, your article clarifies many aspects of traditional, most typical behaviors. I still couldn’t figure out some unorthodox behaviors:

    1. going from awareness of feeling to action
    2. going from awareness straight to action
    3. using awareness of emotion to revert back to awareness

    there are few more abnormalities where thoughts, emotions, even feelings can be bypassed, allowing awareness to feed on senses without going any further. Can’t see much practicality in such en-devours, except for academical interest.
    Again, thanks a lot!

    • John Voris says:


      There has always been a gap between abstract awareness and the physiological quality of action. After assessing over 2 thousand people over the last 33 years, we are confident that this gap is filled by the process of choice. That is, awareness offers internal meaning while external events offer opportunity to be in action. The act of choosing is the manifestation of our internal identity bringing meaning and action into an actual cause and effect process when fulfilled.

      I hope this helps.

  29. I am enjoying reading this article so much. I think I get it that feelings are set up by initial responses to Emotion … So if someone was in a Fear mode for a long time and this has made them feel worry and has made them into a worrier. Can this feeling of dread and worry ever be changed. Or is this now set in their personality forever… I ask as I am looking into CBT and want to work on things that are changeable. Thank you for any help you can offer.

    • John Voris says:


      These are several great questions. Basically, common fears can be broken into two very different categories: 1 biological fear is the tool to avoid sensory pain to our physical expression of identity; 2 cognitive fear is the tool to avoid abstract pain to our mental expression of identity.

      We are biologically driven away from fire for example, so as to avoid damaging our physical identity. This is easily understood.

      We are cognitively driven away from personal humiliation for example, so as to avoid damaging our mental identity.This needs further explanation which is below.

      All emotions are event driven. That means when the event is passed the emotion dissipates.

      When a physically abusive father continuously hits a child instilling fear, that accumulation may build into the sustainable Feeling of mistrust and loathing. Each time the father now enters the room, this sustained feeling of mistrust ignites the emotion of fear barring any counter signals.

      When a verbally abusive father continuously humiliates the child instilling fear, that accumulation may build into a sustainable Feeling of mistrust and loathing as well.

      Fear is a tool that protests both our physical identity as body and self and mental identity as mind and self.

      Public speaking is the number one fear in this country because we fear being humiliated. In fact we learn today, of children who have committed suicide by other students posting humiliating (attacking their mental identity) photos of the victim on facebook. Their self image is so damaged they feel it is beyond repair and fear the humiliation of going back to school. Erving Goffman who wrote, Interaction Ritual, discusses the importance of “saving face” and identity development.

      So, you’re right, initial emotive responses can generate sustained feelings. However, emotions cannot be held for a long time which is how they are distinct from feelings. For example, how long can you laugh, cry, or be visibly angry? Not long. Now if you enjoy watching comedies on your television set, romantic dramas or plots with an evil villain to be angry at, you may be dealing with Feelings.

      As far as the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is concerned, I can only comment on the various Archetypes that we all share and not to the psychology of any one individual.

      I hope this helps.

  30. Solovino says:

    Hi. Any book you recommend about this topic? Thank you.

    • John Voris says:


      Almost all books on psychology either; fail to give the term “feeling” a definition or; define “feelings” as an extension or production of emotions or; define “feelings” as emotions. This is a major reason why this article is so popular. Here the separation is clear.

      The reason for this lack of understanding of feelings points to the dominance of the scientific method demanding physical evidence. Emotions, though transitory, become manifest through measurable, biological mechanisms. A deep and sustained feeling however, is a state of mind that is abstract, non-physical and cannot be measured.

      I have never found a book that separates feelings from emotions as demonstrated here. If you know of one, please pass it on.

      • It is strange that -as you said- there is not any other book that separates feelings from emotions. Unique “theories” smell fishy.

        In your biography, you affirm that you “discovered a pattern of behavior which soon lead to a proven…” Do you have any scientific study that validate your claims?

        The only source you give in this article is Carl Jung, a guy who only fantasied about how the human being behaves based in Freud’s fantasies. None of them subjected their affirmations to be proved under controlled conditions with a strict protocol. They hurried to sell their method and get rich in the process.

        So you do not use the scientific method because it demands physical evidence. What do you use then? Maybe the validity of your claims are based on how popular this article is -as you repeatedly said.

        • John Voris says:


          Thanks for your comment.

          Why did you feel the need to comment on this article? Why are you interested in the topic? Regardless of your answers, the cause will always be invisible. You may have been compelled to write in order to express your opinion. What does an opinion look like? How much does it weigh? What does it taste like? What color is it? Does it have an odor? What is its height, width or depth? An opinion cannot be accessed by any recognized science. Rather,opinions are gathered in surveys to find an “ideal average” of others having nothing to do with the specific subject.

          Our bodies engage in a visible and physical world but our minds engage with the invisible and abstract world. In fact, we live and die not by the evidence of what is physically evident but by what the physical means and meaning is another invisible.

          Science works well in the physical sciences but Europe and Asia both easily demonstrates its inadequacy in understanding the human mind.

          As far as sources are concerned, I have over 600 book references from recognized experts in their field including scientific case studies. Jung was one of the first to explore Archetypes, symbology, motivation and psychology which is why I mention him here. This is a very restricted venue.

          The validity of my claims are based on information that is basically ignored by the American Psychoanalytic Association. For example, Existential Psychology began in the 1960’s and moved to Europe. These therapists found that demanding computer viable models of the mind in determining mental health absurd: there is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to human behavior. There is also Cartesian Psychology which explains why personality profile tests here in this country still fails to adequately explain motivation.

          The definition of feeling is rarely found in books of psychology. In fact books on psychometrics state that “if it exists it can be measured.” So, feelings don’t exist? Nor does, love, desire, pride, relationship, or any other natural motivation. Why? They cannot be adequately measured or codified to the degree of even modest behavior predictability.

          I hope this helps

      • John,
        This is such a fantastic discussion, a real gold mine. Thank you.

        When you say “A deep and sustained feeling however, is a state of mind that is abstract, non-physical and cannot be measured”, I think spirit. And no one can know what is in another persons spirit unless they reveal it. Hence, it is undetectable, scientifically speaking.

        It seems that when we believe something, it is at a spiritual level (or heart level). The old saying “seeing is believing” is not true. Feeling is believing. One does not believe something to be true unless they feel it to be true.

        For example, one may think they believe America is worth fighting and dying for, but when the circumstance arises to just that, they may find they feel differently (actually do not believe) that America is worth fighting and dying for, or at least they did not strongly feel/believe. Another example: one is not “thankful” for a gift presented to them unless they truly feel thankful. On the outside, they can act/pretend to be thankful, but inside they actually do not like the gift.

        • DPaul,

          You have a good grip on the situation. What runs our life is beyond the reaches of science because the non-sensual cannot be tested. It is like saying while our bodies live in the visible, our minds live and die for the invisible.

          To paraphrase David Hume, logic and reason are slaves of our passions. However, if you can linguistically describe this passion, you have missed it. Your example of American patriotism is a good example of us surprising ourselves. How is this possible? Life is about becoming who we really are. Change is not a matter of inventing a new self but uncovering this hidden self of beliefs and feelings that have always been present. When we surprise ourselves we reveal this subconscious structure.

          For centuries this abstract, non-physical feeling, was considered as spirit,the hand of God or divine energy. Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and other philosophers called this “the will to power.” Actually, there is no way to separate this level of feelings from beliefs or spirit. If you call it spiritual, far too many of the ill-informed will then attach the attributes of religion, and dismiss this level of criteria altogether as metaphysical hysteria.

          Thank you for sharing your insight.

          • Appreciate your reply. This discussion is just wonderful to discover.

            Personally, I am a believer in God, and actually am quite comfortable with calling it spiritual. Understand completely those who might take offense or be put-off, as I have not always been a believer. Still struggle with it now and then, to be honest.

            But, speaking of subconscious, would you say our feelings are our subconscious? And, one final question [yeah, sure :-) ], but, have you any thoughts on the research done by the “Heart Math” folks? I am intrigued that they find evidence of another “mind” (subconscious?) located in the physical pump we call the heart.

            • DPaul,

              Thank you for your continued participation and ask as many questions as you like. Questions help us further develop this type of mind technology.

              Keep in mind, over 95% of the U.S.population believe in God and over 90% worldwide. Different poles vary by a point or two but the main thrust here is: the practice of atheism is a extremely small and actually irrelevant.

              However, when school administrators fill their staff with them and they teach our children, these students find it is politically incorrect to publicly announce they believe in God when they do. In truth, they will discuss their belief in a divine power and even pray but certainly not admit this in public. Also, many scientists are “coming out of the closet” and announcing that much of our scientific anomalies can only be explained by a high power of some kind. Evolutionists still cannot find any verifiable missing links found in the state of metamorphosis.

              To say you believe in a God, brings the baggage that Spiritualism does not. And the reason why religion is so difficult is there are far too many interpretations and they all assign human attributes to a supernatural God that creates contradictions. This is why the atheists exists the first place–too many contradictions among religions. If you do believe in God and a religion, publicly call it spirituality. (If God does not exist in fact–why are we always talking about the the issue?)

              There are the feelings that you openly demonstrate from known beliefs, the feelings you discovery by accident, the feelings attached to subconscious beliefs, that are then contained within a Thematic Archetype, that are formed from a blue print of what it is to be human. Here is a good example of the inadequacy of our language. There are many layers that are difficult to language.

              Unfortunately, I am not familiar with “HeartMath” and cannot offer an opinion.

  31. Hi. Thank you for your reply. I have an additional question. In screenwriting, when creating a character, they recommend to find that character’s main “emotional conflict” -one example they give is fear of rejection. I have also read that a conflict in internal values will result in an “emotional conflict”. How accurate do you think this information is and what is the real point behind the term “emotional conflict”?

    • John Voris says:


      To paraphrase the philosopher David Hume: logic and reason are slaves to our passions. This is why all dramatic theatrical plots are driven by our sense of morality and ethics in conflict. This conflict can be internal or externally ignited by others. Without conflict there is no audience interest.

      That statement by Hume runs our daily life. We have internal values and beliefs that give form to our motivations. For example, one could be in pursuit of balance and symmetry in life, to the exclusion of imbalance and conflict. While this is true for us all, it is an obsession for this type of person. This person is always looking for unfairness which motivates him or her into action to bring the situation back into balance.

      This person could take a moral stand of defending and fighting for the rights of victims at all costs. Now imagine this person was a young defense attorney who felt that the legal system was unfair. He or she chose to defend these “victims” in criminal court–and with passion.

      Now imagine that after their client swore innocence, the suspect later confesses during the trial of committing the vicious murder. The attorney’s feelings about the law and the pursuit of fairness is now in conflict with the emotionally repugnance of the brutality of the crime.

      How does this attorney proceed? We as the audience can sympathize with the attorney’s dilemma. The suspect deserves a fair trial yet, this attorney must now empathizes with the murder victim. This requires a moral an ethical decision.

      In screen writing it is common to first reveal the moral internal beliefs and values of the character. Then find a physical emotionally charged situation that contradicts those beliefs. This enables the audience to “sympathize” with the character. This is an essential element contributing to the audience’s ability to momentarily suspend their belief and assists in the plot’s believability. The audience must care for the protagonist.

      The fear of rejection however, is the emotion signaling a possible assault on an individual’s sense of self. Rejection, shame and guilt are event driven emotions or mental tools designed to keep identity intact. When you “do” something in conflict with your identity you feel guilt. When you were “being” someone in conflict with your identity you feel shame. Rejection results from another person igniting either your personal sense of guilt or shame.

      So, this is good advice. “Emotional conflict” is the visual catalyst bringing the emotions and feelings of the audience into the plot of the drama retaining the entertainment value.

      I hope this helps.

      • Hi John
        Thanks for your sustained efforts in replying to all comments. This has been one of the more enlightening discussions in my later adult life.

        What does the young child do when experiencing (experiencing?) the emotions (feelings?) of rejection when being informed of his parents impending separation/divorce? At the age of 9, what part am I playing in this conflict? I definitely felt/experienced shame when this happened to me but I’m not sure who i was “being” that was in conflict with my identity, or my true sense of who I am.

        Thanks John. I hope am being clear enough for a considered response.

        Warm Regards,

        • John Voris says:

          First of all, I am not a licensed psychotherapist and can answer only as a father with a dash of Authentic Systems.

          In my opinion, parents are always responsible for bringing children into the world. I am sorry to hear of their divorce but it is never your fault. You were not being rejected rather, their decision to be married was being rejected. Know that you were always loved by them and no one should feel shame especially if change promoted happiness.

          Also, keep in mind parents are just people such as Bob and Janet. When they have a child named Ted, suddenly they have a new role called parent. For Ted, a mother should act in a certain way and so should a father. However, Bob and Janet are not responsible for behaving according to the imagination of their child Ted and that’s the point. Children create myths about parents.

          Children naturally place their parents in unrealistic shackles of “perfection.” And because children love their parents, they fear they may be the cause of their pain when divorce is mentioned. In these circumstances, most are surrounded with many false assumptions and unrealistic expectations.

          “…but I’m not sure who i was “being” that was in conflict with my identity, or my true sense of who I am.

          At 9 years old you were finding your sense of self. Still, we can only become who we are or as Joseph Campbell once said:
          “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

          I believe that when you were upset it was because you had a developing sense of Identity that was being undermined and you were determined to preserve it. If you felt shame it was partly because you had difficulty reconciling your sense of identity with being from a divorced family.

          When people are upset they are preserving their Authentic Identity when it is being placed in perceived jeopardy.

          Finally through Authentic Systems, shame is the feeling of Being someone who is in conflict with our abstract sense of self image. Guilt is the emotion of Doing something in conflict with the physical sense of self. (We may Feel shame if others view us as a Thief but we would sense the Emotion of guilt if we knowingly stole property belonging to another.)

          I came from divorced parents and spent years battling many demons including feeling responsible for their divorce. This is very common. Looking at your parents later in life as just “people”, reveals the layers of unrealistic expectations you had placed on them. Remember, your children will do the same to you. Are you going to meet their expectations?

          Nevertheless, it sounds like your inner identity came through just fine—now believe it.

  32. Hello,

    Can you explain the relationship of thoughts to both emotions and feelings? Are thoughts considered to be the interpretation of awareness, or the awareness itself? Are emotions based on thought alone considered the same as those based on external stimuli?

    Thank you for your insights!

    • John Voris says:

      According to the philosopher David Hume, logic and reason are both slaves of our passions. That is, both our emotions and feelings are energy sources that controls the direction and scope of our thinking about our current awareness.
      Imagine a friend drops a spider on your lap. You shriek and jump out of the chair. Then you look down and see that the spider does not move–it is fake.
      You first became aware of something that looked like a live spider. Next, you looked at it and began thinking about what was on the floor. You then decided it was fake.
      Emotions are not under our control. In fact, how often do we try to cover-up our emotions with thought. Emotions are our first line of defense similar to our nervous system that forces us to automatically jerk our hand from a hot pan. Our deeper feelings are a matter of innate biology and subconscious archetypal development, directing our conscious personality. This is why when our emotions and feelings are drawn to the surface we are often shocked at our reactions to external stimuli.
      I hope this helps

  33. Gfessenden says:

    Missed the mark.

    Feelings are primative. A survival adaptation that are beyond our control, like a heatbeat or breathing.
    Emotions are the behaviors we learn in response to feelings.

    For example, if I feel fear I can responed with whatever emotion I have learned to cope with that feeling. Anger is a typical response but is not the only response.

    If you look deep into the core of any emotion you will find a kernal around which the emotion crystalizes. All forms of anger for example crystalize around the core feeling of fear.

    • John Voris says:


      “Emotions” can be tracked through various brain scanning techniques involving biological systems such as neural structures, chemistry, electric impulses, brain responses etc. Emotions are also understood in physical terms such as body language and observable behavioral patterns. These functions comply with the needs of science that demand measurable, empirical evidence.

      Now, if you look up “feelings” in a Western, contemporary psychology reference book, the term is either missing or defined as emotions. The reason for this is “feelings” are abstract. Carl Jung and many others, were very much aware of this difference (they also followed the vienna schools regarding psychiatry). However, with the pressure of the American Psychoanalytic Associations demanding physical evidence, feelings had to be academically ignored or defined as emotions. While there are exceptions, there are very few with students now shackled with assessing something abstract with a physical mindset. This is why students enjoy this site.

      My clients are often those who are frustrated with personal profile tests. They come to me because the information provided by personality tests are either too vague and/or offer nothing usable. Because I recognize their verbal language, body language and emotions as only a secondary que, I am able to find their Life Theme as their primary motivation. How someone feels about various issues are tethered to and part of this one motivation hidden behind personality. In fact, what angers someone and makes him or her happy are both linked to a single cause.

      Given that I have accurately assessed several thousand people over the last 30 years by focusing on their stationary feelings, I must assume my findings are more than validated. This cannot be said for much of academic studies of behavior.

      Infants react to pleasure and pain with emotional expression. They have not matured enough to know what to feel about certain issues, making emotions primitive.

      As to another issue you raised, if I ask you, “what do you feel about global warming?” your feeling is not associated with survival and it certainly is within your control. How you feel about your favorite baseball team is not like a heartbeat or breathing.

      When someone or a thing scared you, did you jump with fear without thinking? Of course. Would you call that jumping a behavior like jerking your hand away from a hot pan? These are autonomic neural responses and would not be considered as controlled behavior. One of the many signs that tell you if you’re dealing with an emotion rather than a feeling is if you are responding to an object in the moment. That is what emotions are for: immediate fight or flight, not thinking about fight or flight.

      Fear is the emotion. So what emotions could you emote about the emotion fear? If you felt anger after being scared then you are angry not fearful. If you experience two attitudes at once, know that one is a feeling and the other is an emotion. We cannot equally sustain two opposing emotions at once. In fact, I use this technique in my workshops in helping others to eliminate unwanted emotions.

      Finally, emotions are surface reactions. How often do we become angry and yell at someone only to think after the fact about how wrong we were? Just know that emotions are temporary and are focused on external objects. Feelings are sustainable and are focused on our internal values.

      If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to write back.

      • Biz Burnett says:


        In your May 25, 2013, reply to ‘Gfessenden’, you wrote “In fact, what angers someone and makes him or her happy are both linked to a single cause.” This seems like a logical impossibility. Would you kindly explain why your research has apparently found that to be true? Thanks.

        • John Voris says:


          What angers us or makes us happy are both seen as generated from observable physical events. Beneath the physical is where motivation resides.

          We all have only ONE true need which is to express our Authentic Identity. That is our primary motivation from which all observable motivations are produced. What enhances that expression or functions as a medium through which expression can become manifest we experience as joy or happiness. What hinders or blocks that expression causes us anger or frustration.

          Therefore, what angers someone and makes him or her happy are both linked to a single cause: the need to express our sense of self.

  34. Can you explain the neurophysiological correlates of this difference you are attempting to convince everyone of, of the difference between “feelings” and “emotions”?

    I’m not convinced the semantics here are sound for the argument.

    The word “feeling” is equally used for physical sensation, and for emotion, because they are one and the same – emotions are physical events, experiences, with correlate sensations and physiological activity. This seems to tie into Descartes error. This seems to have become a philosophical argument, not a medical neuroscience one – mind and body are inseparable and it is a two way street – a physical stimulus generates emotional response (bottom-up pathway) and emotional activation at the level of “mind” generates the experience of physical sensation (top-down pathway) and both are technically “feeling” and inseparable semantically and experientially.

    I understand how sadness (“emotion”, in your approach), if not “moved”, can lead to state depression (“feeling”, in your approach) but they are still both technically experienced as physical “feeling” states, meaning they have shared neurophysiological correlates and should be treated as such. I guess I just don’t see how making the semantic distinction makes any difference in clinical assistance and the argument seems to just keep people in the intellect/left brain analysis mode rather than helping with fundamental experiential mind-body skills/experience for moving through the experience of either situation at the level of the body.

    • John Voris says:


      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. There are many layers to these topics and this venue is often far too restrictive, given that volumes of books are written on such subjects.

      The word “feeling” is equally used for physical sensation, and for emotion, because they are one and the same – emotions are physical events, experiences, with correlate sensations and physiological activity.

      You are right. The word “feeling has many uses which is why throughout the article I described the term within the context of a mental event as opposed to any physical sensation. Carl Jung was also aware of this difference and defined “feeling” as a judgement of value as in good, bad right and wrong. “Feeling” can also refer to sentimentality such as how do you “feel” about politics? However, this “feeling” will also be linked to how you value politics.

      The excerpt below from the original article is one illustration of my meaning corresponding to Jung:

      “…our sustained feeling of love for your child, will generate the temporary emotion of fear, and you quickly act by yelling “No!”

      How I “feel” about camping is also a value judgment lacking any correlation to emotion.

      Keep in mind, that the “mind/brain Identity” issue is a very old debate in the science field. Today, in the U.S., psychology is shackled by the need for physical evidence and computability. This is why neuroscientists often avoid the subject of consciousness. Brain scanners can only register the physical effects of mental functioning and not the cause which occurs in the conscious mind.

      The European approach begins with aspects of the human condition such as Jung’s collective unconsciousness and then assesses behavior. This view realizes that mind and brain are inseparable but like hot water and steam: each has different qualities and functions yet still can be connected. Split brain studies also validate this dual relationship.

      …a physical stimulus generates emotional response (bottom-up pathway) and emotional activation at the level of “mind” generates the experience of physical sensation (top-down pathway) and both are technically “feeling” and inseparable semantically and experientially.

      Your example above has physical stimulus generating emotional responses, with this emotional activation at the mind level generating the experience of the physical sensation–that is a tautology. The answer is in the question. That is, the initial physical stimulus generates the experience of the physical stimulus. This is fine regarding auto-mechanisms. Such as, taking a box of crackers from the cupboard shelf and seeing a rat. The sight of the rat as physical stimulus generating the emotion fear with the mind generating the experience of–rat.

      Now, what happens when you see your best friend’s wife kissing another man in a dark cocktail lounge? The physical stimulus is your sight but that is not enough to spark an emotional response. What is missing is the meaning placed on the scene. The brain however does not generate meaning but rather neural impulses. The physical neural senses also only produce impulses in one direction-from the stimulated location to the brain. It is the meaning that this person is your best friend’s wife is what causes the emotional reaction. This meaning is produced by the mind.

      …but they are still both technically experienced as physical “feeling” states, meaning they have shared neurophysiological correlates and should be treated as such.

      Clearly the mind, our feeling of judgement , our physically based emotions, and the physical sensations that surround us, are very much different in quality and function.

      “Emotions” can be tracked through various brain scanning techniques involving biological systems such as neural structures, chemistry, electric impulses, brain responses etc. Emotions are also understood in physical terms such as body language and observable behavioral patterns. These functions comply with the needs of science that demand measurable, empirical evidence.”

      In contrast, how someone feels about vegetables, golf, politics, religion, cleaning, or any other mental state, escapes brain scanning detection. In fact, there has yet to be any consistent brain imaging modeling to identify mental illness. Biological brain imaging are of course very different.

      I guess I just don’t see how making the semantic distinction makes any difference in clinical assistance and the argument seems to just keep people in the intellect/left brain analysis mode rather than helping with fundamental experiential mind-body skills/experience for moving through the experience of either situation at the level of the body.

      The semantic difference is essential in having my clients understand the nature of their ability to affect permanent positive change in their life. I expect there to be vigorous debate but I have something neuroscientist lack–verifiable, consistent and permanent proof that this method works. By separating our deeper feelings, as Jung explained, from our temporary emotions, change begin to be possible. Clients are able to finally see what motivates them in life, find their purpose and begin creating a true path toward happiness.

      Lastly feelings as defined here, has not been shown to have any consistent neurophysiological correlates whereas there is amply evidence for emotions.

      • Seems to me that this about philosophy and not science. Science supports materialism in the mind/brain-body experience. Your argument that feelings do not have neurophysiological correlates supports dualism. And, generally, I “feel” (and, “think”!) that is wrong…. for example, research into physiological coherence (see published the “HeartMath” Institute and similar research, for example) shows systemic markers of biological activity associated with compassion, gratitude, caring, love, etc. all of which, if I am understanding your argument correctly, are represented by non-material “feelings”.

        I would add that personally, I am not a pure materialist (at the present time, but very happy and amenable to have science pull me over to that side). I believe there will always be found neurophysiological and other biological correlates to both emotion and “feelings” as you’ve defined it… However, this is why I’m withholding “pure” on my materialist stance: whether the consciousness that animates and observes that body/mind content with ever be found in – who knows – I certainly would not put it past the integration of neuroscience and quantum physics, in due time… and there are some brilliant neuroscientists like Jay Gunkel and Dr. Damasio who are postulating the neurophysiological basis of consciousness itself. For now, I leave room for consciousness itself to be a non-linear, non-local phenomena – and that what happens in the field of consciousness does, indeed, have specific neurophysiological correlates.

        • John Voris says:

          Seems to me that this about philosophy and not science.

          Good observation. In fact this position is shared with M.R. Bennet and many others. Empirical questions concerning the nervous system are the province of neuroscience. Cognitive neuroscience explains the neural conditions that enable perceptual, cognitive, cogitative, effective and volitional functions possible. In contrast, conceptual questions: the description of the logical relations between concepts, and the examination of the structural relationships between distinct conceptual fields are the property of philosophy.

          Your argument that feelings do not have neurophysiological correlates supports dualism. And, generally, I “feel” (and, “think”!) that is wrong…

          Well again, split brain studies strongly support my position.

          …or example, research into physiological coherence (see published the “HeartMath” Institute and similar research, for example) shows systemic markers of biological activity associated with compassion, gratitude, caring, love, etc. all of which, if I am understanding your argument correctly, are represented by non-material “feelings”.

          This reminds me of the television-set illustration. The brain is like a television set. Naturally, events occurring in the “I love Lucy” program is registered within the circuitry of the set. However, this circuitry cannot explain the program nor explain the laughter the program produces. Again, while the brain shows MRI activity it is not always associated with attitude. That is, brain scanning has no predictive value outside of the fixed body reactions to survival threat.

          My success proves that feelings have no neurophysiological correlations as does many other scientific analysts. We are certainly aware of the erroneous conclusions advanced for the sake of the scientific method at the cost of truth.

  35. John Voris says:

    Mixing up the words describing emotions and feelings is a major problem regarding the Western view of psychology. Normal human behavior is a matter of degree. We give them names to draw important distinctions and boundaries for many reasons. Joy is not happiness. Happy people can have moments of sadness just as chronically depressed people can have moments of joy. Motivation is not enthusiasm. Knowing the difference can be life changing.

    Today, many claim to sell techniques designed to send people on the road to happiness and find motivation in life. Unfortunately,these audiences are actually subjected to techniques enticing temporary joy and enthusiasm, both of which will disappear rapidly. When people attend these seminars or read books making similar claims and still feel unfulfilled, they blame themselves. They tell themselves. “…there must be something wrong with me.”

    Many seek change but what about you that can change? Knowing the difference between an emotion, a feeling, your worldview, and compulsions, can make the difference between guilt, unworthiness and positive change.

    Dr. Pinker, who wrote “The Blank Slate,” revealed over 300 universal social concerns shared with every community on earth. Regardless of where you live, there will always be rules regarding marriage, rearing children, education and many more. Each society will have a different view but that is not the point. Part of the human condition is to naturally find these issues important. That also means that who you are is partially predetermined by framing human behavior. This framing also provides a scope of normalcy regarding individuals.

    Mixing these terms together tends to promote stagnation rather than real positive change.

  36. A visitor says:

    Does it mean that feelings are the same as sensations? Or maybe they’re the same as impressions?

    • John Voris says:

      A visitor

      We often say we feel cold or hot. When used this way, “feel” does mean sensation. However if I ask you how you feel about politics, you will explore your moral beliefs that develops your character for the answer. Then, there is a deeper sense of feeling: this becomes apparent when you surprise yourself by the attitude you display regarding an unfamiliar event.

  37. lisselott says:

    I just want to offer my understanding witch explain the difference to me very clearly and see if somebody agrees….Emotions if you just repeat this word a few times notice what happens…and if you do the same with the word feelings its usually very clear… emotions run trough your body….fear, anger, anxiety, sadness….and feelings just the word resonates in the middle of your chest….love, happiness, enjoyment, peace….if you notice for example anger originates in the stomach area, just like the emptiness of fear or the tingling of anxiety….the feelings are only felt in the chest or heart…

    • John Voris says:


      The feelings we are referring to are cognitive such as how do you feel about your parents. Your connection between emotions and physical manifestation is linked to Asian philosophies and the Chakra. However, western science has not suggested that feelings and emotions manifest in any consistent physical location. Furthermore I have never made this association between emotions, feelings and body sensations.

  38. niki ramos says:

    Would it be safe to say that you are not your feelings, rather, your feelings are your EGO? :The part that must keep its identity at all times and protect itself from any demise? on a rather personal note, my husband became upset when I changed plans one night. His reaction was one of inflexibility and could not understand that me and my family were having FUN at a party he was invited to but decided not to attend. I thought he might have been feeling threatened by his family being with other families and there was his EGO going into overdrive. Would that be correct? I am trying to get my head around his behavior and my own reaction to his behavior.
    I found your artcle very interesting.

    • John Voris says:


      “…rather, your feelings are your EGO? :The part that must keep its identity at all times and protect itself from any demise?

      There are many senses of feelings we use every day. One is the feelings we know such as I feel tired. Another is knowing that I feel our government is too intrusive. It is very close to a belief. However, the ultimate criteria is still based on a third unknown feeling.

      This third sense of feelings is what I deal with that are similar to your assessment above. These are the hidden motivations that you are unaware of that become noticeable when your attitude surprises yourself. These feelings comprise a hidden moral framework that directs the ethical content that becomes recognizable to you as feelings.

      “Would it be safe to say that you are not your feelings…”

      The above brand of feelings are not you if they are feelings you learned. You may change your mind about government.

      “…my husband became upset when I changed plans one night.”

      We all have tools to gain the sense of control in our life. Some must plan their daily, weekly, monthly and even annual actives in life to gain this control. When this becomes radically disturbed, they lose the comfortable feeling that their identity is directing them down the right path.

      “His reaction was one of inflexibility and could not understand that me and my family were having FUN at a party he was invited to but decided not to attend. I thought he might have been feeling threatened by his family being with other families and there was his EGO going into overdrive. Would that be correct? I am trying to get my head around his behavior and my own reaction to his behavior.”

      I would not begin to assess the above. This is insufficient information and I do not offer traditional psychological assessment. However as a general archetypal overview, I can say that whenever anyone expresses discontent, frustration or anger, that person is being shackled from expressing his or her identity.

  39. I surely do disagree with you about your definition of feelings. Perhaps you should probe a little deeper? And while you are at it, probe emotions a little deeper. Emotions block feelings. They are an indication of a mistake in your belief system. Feelings are a universal language. Until self-awareness becomes habitual, feelings only expose themselves after inquiry.

    • John Voris says:


      I appreciate your comments and the opportunity to further demonstrate the problems western psychology brings. I always enjoy a challenge.

      Very few academic psychology texts even mention “feelings.” If they do, feelings are defined in terms of emotions and do not stand alone. Why? The western view of psychology demands there be empirical evidence in any study and must demonstrate a measurable result. Feelings cannot be accurately measured whereas, emotions have definite physical manifestations. After all, how do you feel about baseball? How do you feel about abortion, the death penalty or republicans and democrats or your wife husband or children? These are very real mental states yet they are unmeasurable feelings.

      Given that science fails to adequately explore feelings and focus their attention on emotions, it is natural for studies to validate emotions and paint them as a dominate force over our feelings. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      “Emotions block feelings.”

      If my baby daughter defies my command to not insert a hairpin into an electric socket, I will be come angry and my demand will intensify. My emotion “anger” does not block my feelings about my daughter. In fact, I am angry because she is about to hurt herself and my feeling of love is the force and energy moving anger forward into expression. Anger is not moved in a vacuum but formed by inner feelings.

      I have relied on this distinction for the last 30 years in my assessments and have had it validated in every case study. It works. This is what separates Authentic Systems from academic theory.

      In this case above, it is my feelings about my daughter that is the cause with my anger as the effect. My feelings about her are not blocked but rather expressed. Try it yourself the next time you are angry with someone. Ask, why am I angry? You will discover your anger is based on feelings about yourself, someone else and/or the situation. Your feelings are your source that motivates emotions.

      Having feelings are just as universal as having emotions. However, while anger has connotative form, individuals do not necessary share denotative expressions of that form as content.

      “Until self-awareness becomes habitual, feelings only expose themselves after inquiry.”

      When entering into discussions of this type, please assess the words you use for clarity. This is important when our only criteria are abstract ideas.

      “Self-awareness” entails several layers and domains from the conscious to the subconsciousness manifestations. The rule of thumb is if you can verbally describe your inner sense of self, you have missed it. The unsatisfactory results from personality profile test easily demonstrate this.

      “Habitual” awareness? Awareness has now an unusual structure and the level is unknown.

      “Feelings only expose themselves after inquiry.”

      Again, if you can describe these feelings you have still missed their deeper meaning. That is, we often surprise ourselves with our willingness to accept and/or sacrifice ourselves for others. Would you really jump into a river to save a stranger? Even if all the variables favored that action you will never know for sure until you are placed into that situation. When that happens you might surprise yourself. When you surprise yourself, you have just learned an aspect of your inner feelings that were unknown to you. So you may know you love someone but to what degree?

      As you can see, a cursory understanding of our feelings can be discovered through inquiry but the deeper motivators cannot be accessed through direct application of language. It requires symbolic interpretation.

      Academia tends to make the simple too complex and the complex too simple. Part of this reason is western science explores the visible, measurable world, while we live and die for the invisible and unmeasurable world.

      A new paradigm should look like a mistake.

      I hope you now see the validity of my definitions.

      Lastly, my definition does not refer to “blockage” or “non-blockage.” So, I cannot see how your comment concerns the article.

  40. How do I cope with ” feeling!”

  41. yetimwork says:

    Are there words in the English dictionary that identifies emotions and feelings separately? In other words, can a dictionary word have both emotional and feeling meaning to it?

    • John Voris says:


      Language is a system that symbolically represent and communicate ideas, feelings and emotions. How you feel about achievements in your life, sets the domain of potential emotional reactions to work promotions and demotion for example.

      Your feelings and beliefs are intertwined to function as public, private, and physical identity maintenance and protection. These are sustained mental guides, offering a flexible framework of your potential attitudes toward future experiences to be emotionally triggered.

      So, the personal meaning of the word “promotion” contains both how you feel about achievement that will also determine your emotional attitude toward receiving one.

      While there are certainly neutral words, those indicating the human condition are like the above containing both feelings and emotions.

      I hope this answers your question

  42. Feelings are more shallow…emotions run deep. Like John inferred, emotions create feelings. Happiness can change quickly. If my employer gives me a Christmas bonus of $100 bucks added to my pay, I’m happy! Or I win $100 on the scratch-off lottery, I’m happy. But if my employer shorted me $50 in my pay…I’m not happy. My feelings changed. I’m driving home and get a $164 ticket for running a stop sign…I’m not happy anymore. Emotions come from the soul. Nehemiah 8:10 says “the joy of the Lord is thy strength.” No matter what happens to me externally…I have a deep abiding joy that never lets me get too down.

    • Biz Burnett says:


      You wrote “Feelings are more shallow…emotions run deep.” This VERTICAL way to visually “map” the relationship of the words FEELINGS and EMOTIONS matches Dr. Alan Watkins’ drawing in his first TEDxPortsmouth Talk video. Placing the word Emotions under Feelings implies that Emotions are more foundational and, therefore, more permanent. The real-life examples you gave in your comment seem to be saying that you think Emotions are more permanent, and Feelings are more temporary. If so, I think that is exactly the opposite of what John Voris is saying in this article and his comments. For example, John’s above chart “maps” those 2 words HORIZONTALLY, to convey a “timeline effect”; i.e., Feelings are more permanent, Emotions are more temporary.

      I think the main reason Dr. Watkins vertically depicted Emotions below Feelings was so he could show his belief (based on neuroscience) that our Emotions are created and governed by our more foundational Physiological “data feeds” (e.g., adrenaline, heartrate, sensory input, etc.).

      This is SUCH a complex discussion! It’s hard not to think we’re comparing apples-to-apples when in fact, we’re comparing apples-to-oranges!

  43. Dear Mr. Voris,
    Recently I came across your web site and have been reading some of the threads. I’m a believer of the philosophy you spouse in your mini-bio in the web site. In my words: we are unique and have all that we need to realize ourselves. We just need to work at finding it.
    Of particular interest to me was an earlier discussion about Feelings and Emotion. I understand from your responses that your philosophy regarding feelings and emotions is counter Whitmanesque. Walt Whitman strongly believed that the opposite is true; Emotions arise from Feelings and interestingly, over a century later, science is beginning to confirm his view. Feelings defined in the true biological sense, the body’s act of receiving input and as such the ‘flesh’ is the trigger for the emotional response. If I understand your comments of May 14, 2013 your definition of feeling is not biological but figurative, meaning a belief or value. However, on May 12, you explained: “All emotional experiences are in reaction to external stimulus first and then stored in our conscious or subconscious memory depending on there(sic) importance.” Am I understanding you correctly? If so, I partially agree. In my view, Whitman’s feeling and emotion determine our beliefs.

    • John Voris says:


      Thank you for your interest.

      You raise valid points given that the word “feeling” is defined as both a physical manifestation and a cognitive position of value such as, how do you feel about your mother or father?

      At a primary level, emotions and feelings have a symbiotic relationship. They shift in cause and effect with human maturation. An infant can only express emotion as an immediate way to communicate its physical condition. With time, it will subconsciously find repeated connections between events and things, and their emotional responses will form a pattern. This pattern will form an attitude or feeling, that can be projected into the future. In this way, just seeing broccoli on their plate for example, is enough to become squeamish: his or her new feeling about broccoli is now moving toward permanency. (emotions create feeling)

      These attitudes can of course change but are becoming fixed compared to temporary emotions. This is why I have said that on one level, sustained feelings were produced from accumulated temporary emotions. Also, your emotional responses can eventually generate feelings when closely connected to biology. (I don’t like spicy hot food–ever!)

      “Walt Whitman strongly believed that the opposite is true; Emotions arise from Feelings and interestingly, over a century later, science is beginning to confirm his view.”

      As the infant matures into cognitive awareness, another level and meaning arise regarding emotions and feelings. Now he or she has developed cognitive feelings about ideas. Your emotions will arise from your feelings about a friend for example. But we now have a shift in definition and application.

      Yet, we surprise ourselves all the time. A friend of mine was a poor swimmer and often talked about his fear of water. However, while their family was camping near a river, he noticed a young child drowning close to the other side. Without thinking, he jumped in and the child was saved. How he felt about saving a child dominated over his emotional fears. In this case, feelings created new emotions because a new need was uncovered. When you surprise yourself, you have just uncovered a deeper feeling beneath known and recognized emotions. In other words, feelings arose from emotions and emotions arose from feelings.

      “All emotional experiences are in reaction to external stimulus first and then stored in our conscious or subconscious memory depending on there(sic) importance.”

      So, all emotional experiences are in reaction to external stimulus first in life. Then with time, we store these memories and they morph into a pre-set attitude to avoid having to repeat the experience in the future.

      Together, some new emotional responses will develop into feelings about the event. If these feelings find permanency, they will generate emotions needed for the future.

      Another dimension to feelings are innate and part of the human condition.

      Lastly, there is another level–autonomic. Being frightened produces an immediate emotion. You don’t have time to think about the situation and feelings are irrelevant.

      If this is not clear, please don’t hesitate to write back.

    • Walt Whitman was a poet, not a psychologist. Whatch this video to better understand how raw emotions turn into feelings.

      • Biz Burnett says:


        Neither Art nor John Voris claimed that Walt Whitman was a PSYCHOLOGIST. Whitman expressed his personal PHILOSOPHY through his poetry, essays, and in everything else he wrote or spoke. EVERYONE has a personal philosophy or set of beliefs about life; some people make it their life’s work to examine and/or share it with others.

        Thanks for sharing the link to that interesting TEDxPortsmouth talk by Dr. Alan Watkins. That video was Part 1. Part 2 — — is equally interesting and more informative.

  44. What is the similarity and difference between feelings, emotions & thoughts?
    Can we control our emotions and feelings?
    What influences people to feel what they feel?

    • Lilly,

      To paraphrase David Hume, logic and reason are slaves of our passions. That is, feelings and emotions are both the foundations upon which thinking is based. We want (feeling or emotion), then think of how to achieve this desire while also considering the ramifications of its acquisition. If the desire is usurped by a stronger detrimental result (feeling and emotion), we will abandoned the initial want.

      We can control our emotions provided they are not in conflict with our deeper feelings. However, our deeper feelings as said above, will never change for they are responsible for our unified sense of identity. That is, if you can describe what motivates you or identity characteristics, you have missed them both. They are beyond language. You can correctly identify that you are angry and offer the observable reason for your anger, but not why you were compelled to that direction in the first place. Your deeper feelings are the beginning and of your real motivations.

      We are all destined to “Become” who we “ARE.” That means there are events that nudge our deeper feelings out of hiding, giving the false appearance of newness: nothing can influence people to feel as they do for they must stay within the scope of behavior that conforms to their identity.

      Interpellation is the closed example of being influenced. We are called by certain ideology because our deeper drive sees itself in the description.

  45. Biz Burnett says:

    John: You did an A+ job of explaining the difference between Emotions and Feelings. Would you kindly explain more about Cartesian Psychology, which you mentioned above and which you say “explains why personality profile tests here in this country still fail to adequately explain motivation.” ? Thank you.

    • Biz,

      There is still a debate regarding the true source of knowledge: idealism (subjective) and materialism (objective)and how do we know when when we know.

      Descartes realized that regardless of how material sensations may be deceptive, the subjective self still senses that it is being deceived. That is, it is our inner subjective criteria that determines our understanding of external reality independent of any external independent reality. A reductive interpretation could be, subjective interpretation is reality. To say the moon exists objectively, is only saying our subjective interpretations of its existence simply agrees.

      Cartesian Psychology: the nature of mental states are individuated not by external factors but on the sustained nature of those mental states. Psychology therefore ought not presuppose the existence of any individual other than the subject to whom that state is ascribed. There is a distinction between how the world is in fact, and the subjective interpretation. It is our knowing subjective states that supervenes and explains our external world.

      Personality profile tests only deal with empirical data as the final objective effect, and never accesses the deeper subjective cause.

  46. John, Thank you, you have displayed amazing wisdom and consistency of thought. through all the conversation.
    Could you please clarify the following for me.
    If beliefs is the manifestations of deeper feelings, what is the source/trigger for feelings. Is not the belief system the source of feelings?

    • John Voris says:


      We are born with an Archetypal Theme usually from one parent but often from both. For example, I have a Justice client who has a Justice father and a Love mother. His brother is also Justice. Justice consists of both Love and Wisdom. However, they usually are different in contributing to motivational energy: Wisdom could be 60% and Love 40%. While this individual experiences empathy as a Love person, this empathy is interpreted through the eyes of Wisdom. A Justice person who marries a Wisdom could have a Love, Justice or Wisdom child. It would be highly unlikely for them to have a Power child.

      Once it is established that Justice is the Archetypal Theme as an empty Form, we then know that his or her motivating feelings located in the subconscious will select: beliefs in fairness; equilibrium; symmetry; and balance as the most important motivating ideas in life. These beliefs now driven by feelings will then design and select conforming behaviors.

      The questions: why do we initially believe in anything? What causes “belief” itself? They are driven by preceding Feelings formed by the Archetype. These Feelings are also the basis (form) for the moral and ethical stands we take in life.

      Once a belief is established such as murder is wrong, we find that “wrongness” is what preceded and formed the initial belief. Once it is believed that murder is wrong as a belief, this belief system WILL then generate conforming feelings but conforming feelings that have already been confirmed. That is, we be Become who we Are.

  47. Thank you John. You have mentioned more than once that knowing our identity and who we are will lead to discover our true self and thereby the abiding feelings that are central and core to individuals. Are these feelings/archetypes have a common theme that all humanity share?
    I am learning that through mindful practice I am able to discover who I am, such awareness is very liberating.

    • John Voris says:


      Throughout my process I ask: does this apply equally to a Wall Street investor as well as, a member of a Brazilian tribe living along the Amazon river? If it does apply equally, it is included and if not, I abandon the idea for fear of falling victim to cultural bias. Cultural bias is a major trap in motivation theory today. This is also one reason Maslow was discredited decades ago.

      The Archetypes of Love, Justice, Wisdom and Power, are universal and shared by all of humanity. They begin to define and apply our innate capacity to feel, that eventually generates our private morality and ethical positions in life.

      If you want happiness in life you must; know your inner self; the opportunities life offers; and your relationship with those opportunities. This is why I developed an Identity Assessment. This assessment unveils the inner self that lies beneath what Personality Profile tests reveal. There is a great deal of needed information that current Personality Profile tests are not designed to explore.

      I am very glad to see you engaged in improvement. For me it has been a 35 year journey of discovery and verification that seems to never end.

      • John, Could I ask you what is the basis or the source of the archetype themes like, Justice, Love, Wisdom and Power to be the core of humanity? Is purpose and power seamlessly integrated or is purpose embedded in the key archetype?. Is individual’s purpose important at all in your view. Thank you for taking time to enlighten us through this forum, appreciate it

        • John Voris says:


          In 1980 when I invented this system, there were no Archetypes of Love, Justice, Wisdom and Power only Authentic Motivators and Synthetic Motivators. Then my associate told me that there were four expressions of God in the Bible: Love, Justice, Wisdom and Power. I did not want this work to be lathered in religious dogma so I began to seek other sources to validate the four basic aspects to human behavior.

          I was surprised to learn that Love, Justice, Wisdom and Power, are mentioned with the most repetition throughout all of ancient to modern history. In fact, the Egyptians use 4 vessels to house the organs of those who were mummified.Each vessel was guarded by a God. The God of Love, Justice, Wisdom and Power. Then I discovered that 4 itself is the most dominant descriptor in all of human activity, physical composition, physics and the way the mind functions.If you would like to see a partial list just ask.

          (Why are there 4 corners of the earth when the earth is round? Why are there 4 directions on a round globe: North, South, East and West?)

          Think of power as the expression of your will. This is what Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Heidegger and others believed. What is human motivation? So we all have power.

          Purpose is the predisposition your Theme has designed you to fulfill. So, purpose is integrated into your Authentic Archetype. All you need to do is recognize it.

          Individual purpose manifests meaning, value, moral and ethical convictions, that make human identity complete. Without purpose there is no sense of living.

          Ironically, everyone is expressing their purpose but very few realize just what that is and therefore, fail to capitalize on this very important discovery.

          • Thank you John, It is good to know you through this forum. You have a very unique ability to explain and teach and your basis of human identity is so wholesome and complete.

          • John, how do you differentiate, feeling and desire? I was looking up for some scholarly articles, did you come across any? Thanks

            • John Voris says:


              At times we may feel lonely, grateful, compelled to act, cared for, loved, or even despised. If I had these feelings, I may then have the desire to call a friend, tell someone thanks, go help someone, do someone a favor, tell that person I love them or call someone and yell at them.

              I may also feel all those things and not have any desire. Or, I may have the desire and do nothing. Desire may also be seen as a segment of our WILL.

              However, these are only links that move us toward action with the final actual thrust being our degree of determination to act on those desires and to do so.

              Finally, all of the academic articles I have seen on feelings and desires are physically based following the western tradition.

              I hope that helps

          • Hi John, What are your thoughts about WILL? Does it come into play in all decision making or it is ignored or not as active when feelings/emotions take over in decision making?


            • Tim,

              If you would like more information on this, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche wrote extensively about the Will. They referred to this human manifestation as the “Will to Power.”

              It seems that individual Will is the energy intertwined with our feelings and emotions moving us into action.

            • John, I think WILL is not just the Will to Power but it is one of the freedom dimensions given to human beings to choose or not to choose. We are not totally subject to external stimuli without internal choice. This is my learning journey, if I am not mindful and engage my will in my decision making process, I am likely to allow feelings to dominate my decision making. It also could lead me to be driven more by feelings rather than clear purposeful thinking. This awareness of the opportunity to choose is made more active through the practice of mindfulness. Any thoughts?

            • Tim,

              The Will finds expression through choice but is a separate psychic energy.The legs and arms of a swimmer manifests the Will, swimming through the water of freedom.

              External stimuli does not require internal choice. It is also not possible to decide in the absence of Willing to decide. How you feel about life is the criteria about life and guides your decision making. Know one decides first then explores the reasons for the decision. The act of choice is the non-linguistic expression of identity beyond the power of reason.

              To paraphrase David Hume: Logic and Reason are the slaves of our Passions. We are all driven by our feelings first followed by tailoring our logic and reason to accommodate those feelings. That is, purposeful thinking is the result of our Authentic and Synthetic need for expression driven by our deeper moral convictions concerning life.

              This is inescapable: feelings and/or emotions ultimately precede purposeful thinking.

            • John, Thank you, You are gifted with wisdom and you take the responsibility to enlighten others. You have the ability to make the abstracts(actual absolutes) and bring it as obvious to people through the wisdom.
              Where does the source of passion reside? and how and when does passion trigger? what are the roots of purposeful motivation?

            • John Voris says:


              Thank you for your kind remarks.

              The roots of all motivation will ultimately be found emanating from one of 4 Universal Archetypes that dominates the others.
              We all have Love, Justice, Wisdom and Power representing four domains of motivation.

              My client Bob is a Wisdom person for example.

              As a Wisdom person, he will interpret Love, Justice, and Power through the eyes of Wisdom. In this way, Bob will need to know someone long before you consider that person a friend or intimate partner. His criteria for what is fair is based on who knew what and when did he or she know it. Whenever he is engaged in a topic of even mild interest, he will research it extensively and far beyond anyone else. Before Bob takes action and expresses his personal power, he exhausts his known choices and explore for even unknown possibilities.

              Once you know the Authentic Life Theme of anyone, predicting behavior is easy.

  48. Thierry Robelin says:

    Hi John
    I am finding this article and the following comments fascinating. I thought I would share a few more thoughts around this.
    I was appalled by how much confusion there is between emotions and feelings, and how feelings are also confused with body sensations (“I feel sad” vs “I feel cold”). I have done a bit of study on emotions (I had mentioned that I was writing a small thesis for the school of counseling), trying to analyze in depth the difference between emotions and feelings. I discovered that even third year counseling students can easily confuse the two. Schools (and here by school I mean primary and high school) do not teach these things.
    I based my study on a number of readings, one of which is the emotional brain by Joseph Ledoux.
    The process that he describes goes far into explaining our emotional responses. In particular he demonstrates how emotions become imprinted in such a way that you are stuck with them for life. The bond that is created between the “thing” and its “meaning” cannot be undone. Here I am speaking of basic emotions, i.e. direct responses to stimuli, before they may be tempered by contextual thought.
    So as we grow, we are left with nothing but the attempt at mitigating between the emotions that rise inside us and the context in which we are to express -or repress- them. However, without a proper background many people are unable to understand their emotions, left alone manage them.
    I decided to organize a course for primary schools (8 to 10 year old kids), and I called the course “education on emotions”. It turned out to be a tremendous success. Kids are so responsive and so curious, I was always short of time, and the kids were always frustrated about how soon one hour would fly by. I have never been greeted with such joy and warmth as when I would enter the classroom for the following lesson.
    Teaching kids what emotions really are is showing respect for them. The hidden message is “there is nothing wrong with you”. Because here (I live in Italy), society is still suffering the old education by which emotions were evil and should be (could be) smashed, crushed and ultimately cancelled. I am not saying that we should express our emotions freely. We all know how unadvisable it is to express anger towards your boss or towards a police officer!
    But emotions are the primary channel by which we consume our energy (I am thinking of the word “motivation” in our daily business, which could open a whole thread of discussion just by itself). They are what makes us feel alive, so they deserve much more that just “knowing they exist and setting them aside”.

    • John Voris says:

      Hey Thierry,

      I thoroughly appreciated your insight and willingness to reveal your discoveries. Western academia is so driven by their success in the physical sciences that they also apply the same protocols to understanding the mind, missing the most essential. You don’t apply the same processes in building a bridge as you do in capturing the mind. Yet they continue to try.

      “I was appalled by how much confusion there is between emotions and feelings, and how feelings are also confused with body sensations (“I feel sad” vs “I feel cold”).”

      Western science cannot address cognitive feelings because they escape empirical validation. So, emotions and feelings are muddled together as you have recognized. Knowing the difference however, is profound and severely impacts the effectiveness of academic models regarding psychotherapy and pedagogy.

      The triad of emotions, feelings and context (including the “thing”) are the building blocks to generate both social and personal meaning in life. From meaning, we assign value and importance which are the foundations of our sense of morality and ethics that determine if we will be happy or not. To paraphrase Hume: Logic and reason are slaves of the heart.

      “So as we grow, we are left with nothing but the attempt at mitigating between the emotions that rise inside us and the context in which we are to express -or repress- them.”

      Anger management is a good place to recognize this disconnect between feelings and emotions and your comment on mitigating emotional expression. Anger management classes can only “report” a 50% “success” rate. The reason for this low average: these counselors focus exclusively on the emotion called anger. Again, this emotional expression is an effect of a prior cause found in our feelings that are never addressed.

      I have conducted anger management sessions but call them Authentic Anger Awareness classes. We never talk about anger and I have a 100% client satisfaction rate thus far. These are normal people who are finding the repetition of a specific type of struggle in their life causing their anger. Anger is ultimately a reaction to Identity assault, threat, restriction of expression or actual damage. Once my clients understand what they are protecting, they focus away from anger and onto a new way to preserve their inner self. As it turns out, anger is very reasonable and should be seen as a positive human capacity.

      “The hidden message is “there is nothing wrong with you”.

      Thank you for mentioning this. I commend you for your understanding. I tell my clients: “There is nothing to fix, only something to be aware of.”

      You are a breathe of fresh air. This information needs to be in the mainstream of education. It looks like you have a good beginning. Your students will learn more from you than all of their future psychology classes put together.

      Thanks again and keep me in the loop of your progress.

  49. Jatinder Singh says:

    I think we are missing a piece here. The trio is THOUGHTS, EMOTIONS AND FEELINGS.

    Mind through sensory perception generates thoughts. Those thoughts affect our bodies and give rise to emotions.

    When thoughts and emotions interact, feelings arise. It is hard to describe feelings in words, it is just felt by your heart and sweeps through body mind.

    • John Voris says:


      Thank you for your interest.

      Sensory perception data generates no meaning in and of itself. A table does not know its a table or that its hard to the touch. Tables do not fly, swim in the ocean or live in the forest. They are not found in nature. A human uses a natural object to create a symbol of meaning such as a table. Also many people can see the same event or object and walk away with very different interpretations. This happens when people see a car wreck and cannot agree on the type of cars involved.

      Every object is simply a conduit through which we express our individual identities manifested as our verbal interpretation. Therefore, the mind imposes thoughts upon cognitive sensory perception before that sensory event can generate thoughts.

      My thoughts of Marx economics has no affect on my body and does not generate any emotional reaction at all. There are a plethora of ideas that have no bodily connection and further, they transcend any sensory perception. If thoughts always affect our bodies and give rise to emotions, why are “Lie Detector Tests” banned in a court of law? These tests are based solely on your proposition and are found inaccurate far too often.

      Now, when thoughts and emotions do interact, they do so as reactions to deeper preceding feelings. These feelings act as our subconscious World View, and cannot be verbally captured. Here is where our motivations in life originate. Thoughts and emotions are always in reaction to our deeper feelings.

      Feelings form our sense of morality and emotions suggests our ethical content within that form. Thoughts are the mode or tool though which morality and ethics become physically manifest: we think through what we want and attempt to avoid what we don’t want.

      When someone is confronted with an unknown object that evades verbal description, there are no thoughts only emotions and feelings.

      Going further, the intent of deep meditation is to transcend all three: thought, feelings and emotion.

      While our bodies exist in the visible, we live and die for the invisible.

  50. Thanks for the thought provoking discussion. I tried to read all comments and replies in one GO, but I lost focus after a while… At moments I think I got it, but i read the next thing and it seems it contradicts with my previous thoughts.
    Can we summarize:
    1.Emotions and feelings are both sensations experienced by humans.
    2.Feelings are triggered by external stimuli whereas emotions come from your mind, and possibly, soul.
    3.Feelings can include physical sensations as well as mental states, but emotions always come from your mind.
    4.Feelings are often temporary and subside once the stimulus is no longer present, whereas emotions will stay with you for years because they are seated in your mind.

    • John Voris says:


      Rather than responding, please re-read the two lists providing the separation between feelings from emotions.

  51. Jatinder Singh says:

    Hi John,
    Thanks and I 100% agree to your following statement. You actually nailed bang on what I had in mind.
    “The intent of deep meditation is to transcend all three: thought, feelings and emotion.”
    Can you please shed some more light how to quieten the mind and transcend thoughts, feelings and emotions?

    • Jatinder,

      Thank you for your interest.

      Regarding your question, I must defer to the professionals. Begin with the many books available on meditation. There may also be workshops close by that can guide you.

      The process demands a great deal of concentration, counseling, and practice to obtain optimum results.

      This will be a very exciting journey.

  52. John,

    First I want to thank you for this discussion. I am a 1st year graduate counseling student. My first applied techniques class was very informative, however, once we started practice sessions I began to have difficulty with identifying feelings. I always thought of emotions and feelings as one in the same and used the words interchangeably. I knew there was something wrong and set out to identify why I was having difficulty and what I could do about it while still in the beginning stages of this grand experience. I stumbled upon your website. After reading the discussion thread I think the reason for the difficulty is because I was trying to key into the emotion the client experienced at the time. While I understand that emotion was valid for the moment, it just felt as though it was a surface description and that I wasn’t really getting to the heart of the matter. It seems, and please correct me if I’m wrong, as though the heart of the matter I was looking for was the feeling. In reflection, I was looking for another “emotion” and I think that’s why I was getting stuck. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that emotions aren’t important, but as you stated, they are temporary. So when I am hearing the client and seeing their emotional reaction, I should be listening for the feeling; what is moral conviction or belief that that person holds. I think I’m on the right track….Recognizing that I could never know the true feelings that a client may have, my job is to put out the feeling word that may be most closely associated with the client’s. If I am wrong, the client will correct me and provide me with the feeling word. Or of course, I could simply ask them what they are feeling. Your discussion has given me great insight. In addition, I’m reading a book by Irvin Yalom. He talks about having rabbit ears in session; the rabbit ears, like t.v. antenna, search for the true frequency; those things that we cannot see. My interpretation of this is that we are looking for the feeling beyond the emotion. Am I on track? Thanks again!

    • John Voris says:


      Many students come here because their books on psychology and their teachers, interchange feelings with emotions. What you observed is that emotions offer surface descriptions only barring you from getting to the “heart of the matter.”You correctly noticed that focusing only on emotions did not give you what you were intuitively looking for.

      Your dilemma was also recognized by Rollo May, Ludwig Binswanger and others that prompted the book: Existence -A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology in 1960. The Western approach teaches students to see the patient against the backdrop of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. May and Binswanger questioned if they were seeing the patient in his or her own reality or were they seeing their own projected theories based on previous observable and measurable models of behavior?

      Even before WWII, the American Psychoanalytic Association was at odds with the International Psychoanalytic Association. It seemed the American Association wanted recognized therapists to also have a medical degree. The Europeans wanted a separation from the behavior-based Western view of psychology. This debate explained why feelings have been either ignored in Western psychology training or mixed with emotions because emotions can be observed. The Europeans went even deeper than feelings. They have known for decades that deep moral and ethical beliefs manifest as feelings that are the actual, real motivating cause for behavior which cannot be measured.(It is believed). So, your confusion as well as others, is what prompted me to write about the difference between emotions and feelings.

      The type of feelings I am looking for in this context is cognitive. Such as, how do you feel about children. Emotion is not needed and may not be expressed at all. Anyone can do an objective essay on the benefits and drawbacks of having children and they do. What do you feel about our political atmosphere, unions or Quantum Physics. Sure, some may become emotional but only if it hits a sensitive chord having to do with their Moral Worldview: another aspect that evades measurement.

      You were right, you should be listening for their deeper feelings: I call that Shadow Dancing because you are communicating with the shadows of their consciousness. And you were right again, how we feel about something is connected to and driven by our moral convictions and beliefs about reality. However, there is a way to get to their dominant Moral Archetype without relying only on direct language or them telling you. In fact, this brand of “feeling” is beyond their linguistic description. I have been using a method to achieve this result for over 30 years with success.

      Finally, you are also on the right track with Irvin Yalom. He wrote Existential Psychotherapy in 1980. He reveals the deeper issues that are missed by the Western approach. And yes– “we are looking for the feeling beyond emotion.”

      I hope that gave you some direction.

  53. In behalf of Mindy:
    “Hi John,
    How does one actively develop proper “feelings” ? Are feelings subject to Biology? Or is it subject to one’s ability to reconcile emotions with logic? In other words, is it a skill that you can cultivate? If so, how do we effectively do it?”

    • John Voris says:


      We are driven by the desires to live a good life, doing what is right, moral and ethical. We define these according to our dominant Archetype. We know the brain has a physical map designed for generating Content. The mind also has a map but of abstract Form. The mind is dedicated to generate consistent individuation with the capacity to engage in diversification. The various states comprising Mental mapping are understood with respect to heir causal powers.

      What is important to notice is that we all can facially express anger for example. The emotion “anger” can not and does not separate us as the unique individuals we are. In fact, no emotion separates us as individuals against the whole population. However, we all have various inner feelings that causes our anger, revealing our unique individuality.

      We do not develop our natural Archetypal feelings, we can only express them. We do however inherit our mind mapping as we do our hair color, body type, etc. Finally, to paraphrase David Hume, (1711-1776) logic and reason are slaves of our passions and not the reverse.

      That is, feelings often use emotions for the purpose of expression. However, logic and reason can only augment the intensity of Archetypal feelings but never reconcile the manifested emotions. We can change WHAT makes us angry but not the moral or ethical WHY we change or stay the same.

  54. Victor A says:

    I have two great questions about two great quotes. the first quote says:

    “Feelings aren’t facts. You don’t have to believe everything you tell yourself!” and my question is: is that correct/incorrect? why?

    The second quote says: “We generally change for one of two reasons: inspiration or desperation.” and my question is: which one is a feeling and which one is an emotion, or if they are both feelings or if they are both an emotion and why? thanks!

    • John Voris says:


      Having a feeling could be called a subjective fact for the one having the physical experience but only as a mentally induced interpretive state. This is why Bob and Ted can share the same experience, with Bob feeling depressed while Ted does not. We all feel certain ways about the world from the information we gather, our beliefs, and prior knowledge that may or may not reflect reality. If we have a false view of the world and feelings about this false interpretation, the “feeling-sensation” may be real to us but it does not reveal how we should believe.

      The class “feelings” are not facts defined as representing the physical world. Only the symptoms of acute depression for example, can be seen but not “depression” itself. “Depression” has no weight, color, sound, height, depth, and is not time sensitive. As long as there is a gap between physical events and feelings, they cannot be classified as facts which is why much of Western psychology dismisses feelings. Emotions however, manifest physically and can be discovered in brain scanning.

      Both inspiration and desperation are feelings ignited by external events. They are communicated through excitement and fear respectively. A hero can inspire us in terms of faith in ourselves that cannot be physically seen. Anyone can live a life of inspired faith as a hidden inner sense of Being. Desperation is the same. A father can lose his son in a crowd and emit fear of loss as an emotion but desperation can only be inferred as the inner motivation. Also inspiration and desperation do not require an object to be felt. The unemployed can feel a dull sense of desperation each day without manifesting any symptoms.

      The criteria we have for our feelings are beyond our linguistic ability to capture. Yet, they can be sustained over time and set the foundation for what we believe we know about life. Emotions come and go with our temporary moods, and attitudes linked to an object or idea.

      • John Voris says:


        Since this topic is very popular on our site I felt compelled to slightly expand my response.

        “Feelings aren’t facts. You don’t have to believe everything you tell yourself!” and my question is: is that correct/incorrect? why?”

        Another example of how to look at our feelings is to ask yourself what does it mean to trust someone? “How do you feel about Bob, can he be trusted? We often frame this question this way linking “feel” and trust.

        You don’t ask, “how do you emote about Bob, can he be trusted? These are two separate questions with the first being rather peculiar.

        If you feel you can trust Bob, what is factual about the statement? You can say that for you, this feeling is a fact but Bob may be a conman. Feelings do not reveal facts about our world only our moral and ethical standards that make up trust that is being applied to Bob.

        How many people worked and trusted those who were later proven to be serial killers? When we explore issues such as trust, desire, curiosity, compassion etc., we are engaged in our moral and ethical convictions and never objective facts.

        I hope this offers another useful layer of understanding feelings.

        • Victor A says:

          Thank you very much Mr. Voris! your clear and smart brake down made me understand these quotes and have a greater picture in general! God bless! – Victor.

          • Victor A says:

            By the way, you may like this, this writer was one of the founders of my church. she writes about feelings and emotions from a spiritual perspective with God as the foundation. here is the link:

          • John Voris says:


            Thank you for your generous comments.

            I read the article and agree with her assessment of feelings.

            By the way, Authentic Systems and European psychology can answer questions that Western psychology will not even explore. Existential Psychology for example, is very helpful in understanding issues generated from the human condition.

            Like your article, much of the work done prior to 1950 answers many of the current debates regarding motivation and psychology. Authentic Systems began with Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, and Schopenhauer. I then sought out experts in various fields to validate our findings. Often these experts correctly contradicted findings from experimental psychology and the neurosciences’ published today.

            There is far too much politics in “modern” western psychology. Living life alone, proves that much of their politically induced research results are false or incomplete.

            Thanks for the reference.

  55. Akuneto Nnamdi .c says:

    Kudos sir,you are trulyneducating us here.Please,I will like to know,are there substances capable of changing ones emotional state?

    • John Voris says:


      Thank you for your generous comment.

      The quick answer is yes. There are many pharmaceuticals that impact neural communication. However, if you want further details I suggest you find a professional who works in this area.

  56. John Thompson says:

    Is it possible for someone to not have feelings/emotions? Is it possible for someone to have a normal life without them, or is it a false sense of hope to ever live normally?

    • John Voris says:

      John Thompson,

      First, my clients are not seeking psychotherapy nor am I trained in this area. However, in my opinion, such a person would not feel the essential fear or joy level for basic survival nor feel the motivation required to acquired the sense of achievement.

      There are normal people who simply do not sense joy or achievement because they are not aware of who they are on a deeper level. They have not aligned their talents and skills with the proper career. All we have is our identity, life opportunities and our relationship with them.

  57. I like it…It may not be wrong to say that feelings are just like a road and emotions are like van driven by drive( Mind)
    I`m a just a little student of psychology.. Please, Sir..Justify it..

    • John Voris says:


      Feelings can be like a road as a guide on the land. Emotions are how you drive shifting and changing throughout the terrain.

  58. Hi. I have a question to you John.
    Suppose a person dealt with me in an inappropriate manner. Then I “felt” insulted. I could keep my feeling to myself or I could express it by getting angry. Anger here is an “emotion”. What is your opinion on this? Recall that the person’s attitude caused my feeling ( being insulted) not my emotion ( being angry). thus the causal relation is as follows: the attitude is the cause of my feeling (insulted) and my feeling is the cause of my emotion(anger). I said that because some people may felt insulted by did not express it in anger or resentment.

    I really need your comment on my idea. :)
    Shaya.. a philosophy student.

  59. John, thank you for the insightful article. It really helps to get some clarity on this highly confusing issue. In this light, i would be interested to ask for your opinion on the following: why can it be that the emotional reactions provoked by imaginary reality (e.g. movie or play) can be stronger than those provoked by similar events in real life? ( example – crying over a death in a movie vs sadness over a death of a loved relative, or lasting haunting fear over a horror movie vs short-lived fear and disgust over a real life burglary) Thank you in advance!

  60. Since Plato we have been aware of our dual nature. The easiest to understand is Universal Form and the Particular as content. The outer world also exhibits the objective while the inner world manifests the inner criteria of being human.

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