Feeling is one of the basic physical senses—perceiving by touch. It has also been generalized to mean perception of events within the body. A feeling is also an emotion, or an emotional perception. Feelings as emotions can be initiated by bodily responses—the interaction between physiological events and cognition (see Encyclopedia Britannica). Emotion can also be defined as “a complex state of feeling that results in physical and psychological changes which influence thought and behavior” (verywellmind.com). According to David G. Meyers, as quoted on verywellmind.com, emotion involves “…physiological arousal, expressive behaviors and conscious experience.”
Different theories suggest that emotions come from bodily responses, activity within the brain, or thoughts. Regardless of how they originate, emotions affect our expressions and behavior. Emotions motivate us to act or make decisions (if you are afraid, you might run, or scream, or hide). Our emotional expressions help us to understand and be understood, to communicate and build relationships (when was the last time you “mis-read” someone’s emotions?). We can regulate our own behavior by understanding the emotions behind it. The ability to let others know how we are feeling is also a very useful skill.
A mother, or a psychotherapist, might say to a child who is “acting out” emotions, “Use words!”. Naming feelings helps us understand and regulate our emotions. Saying how we feel is more socially acceptable, and produces a more favorable response, than banging on the table, throwing things, or screaming. Mitch Ablett, on Mindful.org (Tame Reactive Emotions by Naming Them), refers to several studies demonstrating that labeling a strong emotion can help us to step into an observational stance, activate our “thinking” brain, decrease the activity in our “emotional brain” and choose how to respond (“Name it to tame it”). This is called “emotion labeling”.
How many emotions can you name?
Here are some labels, cheat-sheets, and worksheets to help:
Other resources and references: