The Difference Between Feelings, Emotions, and Moods

The Difference Between Feelings, Emotions, and Moods

Do you know someone who always seems to have it all together? No matter what comes their way, they remain calm, cool and collected. You might feel like a wreck compared to them, especially if you’re prone to easily getting stress or struggle with anxiety. What makes them tick? Do they have less emotions than the rest of us? Not likely. Chances are they just have a better understanding of their feelings and know how to regulate their moods.

But what is the difference between feelings and emotions? Although they are used interchangeably, there is a distinction between them. Each one factors into your mood, and your mood provides cognitive feedback for your emotions. It may seem like a complicated cycle, but you can learn how to better understand each one and, in turn, feel more in control of yourself, too.

What Are Feelings?

Feelings can be physical sensations, like hot or cold, or mental perceptions. They can be considered the conscious expression of your emotions. For example, you may feel the emotion of fear, but it could result in feeling anxiety or anger. Feelings emerge from your brain’s processing and interpretation of any given emotion.

What Are Emotions?

Psychologists debate how many emotions humans can feel, but all of them can be categorized into four basic emotions: anger, joy, sadness and fear. These emotions are primitive, spanning back millennia to our ancestors. They are survival mechanisms that helped human beings evolve. Fear, for example, was a helpful response to serious threats that could have ended someone’s life. Fear even played a role on a social level, helping our ancestors adapt favorable behaviors to avoid being isolated from society.

Today, our emotions are just as important, but we often confuse them with our reactions. That’s why therapy can be so helpful; it helps you dig deeper and sometimes discover emotions that seem completely unrelated to what you’re feeling but, with introspection, make perfect sense.

What Are Moods?

Your mood is your emotional state at a given time. You could be cranky, frustrated, stressed, calm or any other number of moods depending on the situation. For people with mood disorders, moods are either exaggerated and difficult to manage or change too frequently. They may suffer from a persistent low mood, as is the case in clients with major depressive disorder or dysthymia.

Your surroundings and perception of your emotions largely influence your mood. People with low emotional intelligence (EQ), that is the ability to understand, interpret and respond to their emotions, tend to struggle with their mood states more than those with higher EQ.

How Can You Learn to Control Your Emotions Better?

Emotions, feelings and moods are all temporary, but they can have long-lasting effects on your life. If you feel like yours are getting in the way of your happiness, therapy can help. Contact us at Foundations Family Counseling to learn more about our approach to therapy and what we may be able to help you with.