In the great unknowns of the universe feelings and emotions are right up at the top of the mystery list. What are they? How do you know? Is there an objective way to define them- separately and together?

Feelings and emotions are things that have seemed out of my reach for much of my life. I drank them down in an effort to make them go away- all the while not knowing what they were telling me or how to learn from them.

When I quit drinking all of the sudden this vast landscape arrived: full of surprises. My therapist asks what I am feeling and I begin an explanation, “Well,” I’ll say, which is probably emotion. Then she says with emphasis “feeling” and I get confused- isn’t the explaining the feeling? No, it’s kind of the feeling, but the feeling is what’s driving the emotion, and the emotion is what’s driving the explanation.

Feelings seem to be those things that are simple one word answers, verbs perhaps, that you can shove down with enough fortitude or gin martinis. And yet, they don’t quite seem to go away…unlike emotions, which can be hidden from yourself so well that you aren’t even aware that you are having them. So emotions are things that aren’t really there…but they are. Feelings are things that are really there…but they aren’t.

Both can be the result of stimulus and response, most of my interest right now stems from how we cut ourselves and each other off from completing the cycles of our feelings and emotions- which one is the one that urges us to stop the cycle? Is it the emotion that makes us uncomfortable, or the feeling?

For example.. in a conversation, what flows it forward? What captures our interest? Is it the feeling or the emotion? Is it the undercurrent or the obvious that leads us to dismiss words or stories that become sensitive- and that sensitivity is neutral: neither good nor bad, but based on the experiences of the conversants. What draws us deeper? How do you handle your own discomfort? Do you stifle yourself when you are energized in any way by communicating?

In my research and study I’m drawn to the “okay factor”..the idea and urge to smooth things over by making them palatable. I hypothesize that we have dulled our ability to relate to one another by stifling our ability to knowingly experience both feelings and emotions in an effort to be socially acceptable.