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Emotional Intelligence and the Difference Between Emotions and Feelings

Emotional Intelligence

What is emotional intelligence?

Intelligence is the ability to discern and make use of discernment. Emotional intelligence is the ability to discern emotions and feelings and make use of that, for example, for writing internalizations.

Emotions and Feelings

Emotions are motivations like hate, sexuality, excitement, sadness, disgust, anger, and loneliness. Emotions come from the body and serve survival.

Feelings are motivations like love, happiness, empathy, sense of beauty, sense of purpose, and kindness. Feelings come from the above, the soul. They fulfill soul needs.

Emotional Modes

The body’s nervous system has a limited repertoire of emotional modes.  Emotions are not reflexes, rather involuntary mental modes that involve the brain, the spinal cord, and lower nerve complexes, for example, the abdominal brain at the solar plexus.

In case we enter the fear mode, the spinal cord freezes the body, the brain releases adrenaline, our perception zooms in on the source of fear and possible escape routes, and muscles tense to get ready for action.

The disgust mode reduces the chance of getting sick. It’s probably the most important emotion of all because sickness is much more dangerous than accidents or predators. Ninety percent of American Indians died from imported sicknesses.

Emotional modes have evolved over millions of years and defy modification. They can bring out the Shadow in us. Most crimes are emotionally motivated.


Feelings reflect the soul’s needs, for example, to have meaningful experiences, to love, the quest for beauty, to be happy, and to experience enlightenment.

Unconditional love is the mother of all feelings.

Distinguishing Emotions and Feelings

You shall separate the subtle from the gross, suavely and with great ingenuity. – The Emerald Tablet of Hermes

It’s not easy to keep emotions and feelings apart. For example, sexuality, infatuation, and love like to mix, whereby sexuality and infatuation are emotions and love a feeling.

One way of telling: Emotional modes limit perception and feelings inspire and enlighten. Infatuation is blind, love is lucid.

Emotions are dormant until external events trigger them. No event, no emotion. Feelings, on the other hand, need to be cultivated, for example, in a relationship.

Feelings want to express themselves. If there is no situation in the external world that allows them to manifest, feelings will get creative. That’s why we have writers, musicians, and technicians. That’s why we pursue relationships – to express feelings.

Because the distinction between feelings and emotions is not well developed, language forsakes us. A lot of feelings remain un-coined and many emotions and feelings share the same names, for example, love is a wildcard for various feelings and emotions

In order to express love on the page, we need to resort to poetry.

Desires and Needs

Needs emerge from emotions and desires from feelings.

Emotions are formless, needs have a form and direction. For example, the fear mode turns into the need for building a shelter or invent weapons. The hunger mode turns into the need to hunt and gather.

We tend to come up with negative needs. For example, instead of pursuing safety, we opt for destroying what threatens us. We rely on medicine (elimination of germs) rather than on the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. For the same reason, we make war instead of building peace.

Desires give forms to feelings. And they evolve needs. For example, we turn the need to eat (anything) into a desire for steak, pizza, or cake.

Most of the time, we pick up desires in the external world. We see a car and we want it (the car is an elaboration of the need for transport). But the most important desires emerge inside, the needs of the soul that the form of callings, for example, to write, paint, sculpt, and make music. 

Emotion Management

Emotions bypass the brain’s voluntary control center. Once an external event triggers the fear mode, it will be up and running for a while before we can snap out of it. That’s why emotional manipulation is so effective.

Sometimes, we cannot stop emotional responses and we have to manage them. For example, grief. In this case, it is important to embrace the emotion and live through it. Unprocessed emotions can turn into psychological complexes.

The Kübler-Ross model details seven mental stages we go through when we face persistent emotions:

  1. Shock
  2. Denial
  3. Anger
  4. Bargaining
  5. Depression
  6. Deliberation
  7. Integration

Since your protagonist will face a lot of adversity and antagonism, you can use the Kübler-Ross model to design your arcs. The external event is the inciting incident or scene stimulus, and deliberation the internal stake flip.

You can also use the Kübler-Ross to show a reaction to a positive inciting incident or scene stimulus:

  1. Stimulus: Girl meets a sexy guy
  2. Shock: The guy takes a girl’s breath away and she freezes
  3. Denial: “He’s too good to be true.”
  4. Anger: “He’s out of my league.”
  5. Bargaining: “God, if he asks for my number, I’ll go to church for ten days in a row.”
  6. The guy doesn’t ask, hence, depression.
  7. Deliberation: “I’ll spill my beer over his leather jacket and offer to laundry it.”
  8. Integration: She spills beer over his suit.

Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, and depression are subjective and passive. During these five phases, we struggle to cope with the emotion (mind that we do not struggle with the event itself). Deliberation is a conscious decision to do something about the emotion, and integration walks the walk.

Emotions and Feelings in Society

Emotions have been abused the world over to rationalize selfish political and other group agendas. That’s where all the scare, shame, blame, and guilt tactics come from.

Every philosophy has its core desire. Hedonism is the rationalization of pleasure, racism is conceptualized disgust, capitalism is sanctified greed, and fascism is an organized fear response.

Some laws and regulations are still emotionally motivated, for example, the death penalty. Feelings, on the other hand, drive humanitarian progress. Without love, there would be neither freedom, nor equality, nor justice, nor charity.

In the collective unconscious, fear, anger, disgust, and greed patterns battle patterns of empathy, kindness, love, and honor. Democracy is continuously threatened by collective fear patterns. It seems that collective emotions are winning, but that is only because they easily raise a ruckus and that’s why they make it into the news. Seems it rests with us writers and other artists to show the beauty of feelings and defend humanitarian values.


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