Emotion vs Feeling

Something I like to tell people is that I think there’s a difference between an emotion and a feeling. 

An emotion is just the biochemical response that you’re experiencing. A feeling is your interpretation of that response. It is the meaning that you attach to that response. You know, for the longest time I would tell people I’ve always had anxiety, or I’m an anxious person and I started instead labeling it as activation. I started saying, “This is me getting activated, I’m getting prepared for something.”. I converted the meaning from a negative one to a positive one. It really changes the experience, right? 

So anytime somebody is regularly experiencing a feeling that they don’t want, I like to ask them, “What’s the emotion and then what’s the feeling?. How can we change the experience or meaning around this to ultimately make you feel more positive about it?” 

If that doesn’t work, there’s five questions that I like to ask people. The first one is, “What is it that you’re not doing and you know that you should be?” So what are you putting off? What are you procrastinating on? Anxiety can oftentimes be like a check engine light in a car, it’s sending you a signal to pay attention to something. Maybe that something is the answer to the first question.

The second question is very much in the same vein as the first. It is “What is it that you’re doing that you shouldn’t be?” So what’s the activity that you’re engaging in that you shouldn’t be? For some people that’s watching too much news. For others it may be drinking too much booze. We can typically find something with that question. 

The third one is, “What are you preaching but you aren’t practicing? We get this feeling of hypocrisy when we’re constantly asking people to do things that we ourselves aren’t doing or aren’t willing to do, right? So what is it that you are preaching that you aren’t practicing? 

The fourth one is, “What is the molehill you’re making into a mountain?”. What is the minor thing that you’re making a major thing? You know, an easy way to think about this is will you even care about this circumstance 30, 60, or 90 days down the road? If you won’t care about it then, why do you have to care so much about it now? 

Oftentimes, people miss identify the level of threat that is acting upon them. They look at everything as if it’s this threat level midnight instead of having the appropriate response to what is actually in front of them. 

Now, the last one is the one that I think if most understood would make their life exceptionally better. That question is, “What is the uncontrollable that you are seeking to control?”. We don’t know the boundary of control that we ultimately have. 

I tell people this, “You have about a yoga mat worth of control in this world.” That is to say, what you can fit into a yoga mat, which is yourself, your hands, your arms…that’s about all that you can control. If you think about little kids when they play basketball, for example, maybe the ball goes out of bounds and the game stops. Sometimes there’s this one kid that doesn’t realize that the ball went out of bounds or maybe they don’t understand that when the ball goes out of bounds that the game stops. That little kid stands there and he’s still guarding the other kids. It’s really funny to watch but that’s actually how a lot of people are.  The second something leaves the boundary of your control, then that’s when you should let it go. 

Understand and have dead clarity on what you control and pay no mind to what you do not control. When you get that your life can become so much more exceptional. The follow up question I like to ask people after they do this is, “Do you notice the moment a circumstance leaves the boundary of your control?” 

If you can notice that moment, then you can notice the moment that you will no longer pay it any mind. Always remember that it’s about a yoga mat worth of control that you ultimately have in this world. 

Try those questions out. They work. Man do they work! Thanks for reading.