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Why do we have feelings?

Biology | 7-14 yrs | Video, Animation

Imagine you went home from school one day and there was a nice warm delicious pie waiting for you. It would make you happy, right?

Now imagine you went home from a bad day at school knowing there was going to be a delicious hot pie waiting for you; only to find out there is no pie. How would you feel? Probably quite sad and disappointed, right?

Happiness, contentment, love, bitterness, worry are some of many feelings we have. To understand why we have feeling, we must first understand, ‘What are feeling.’

What are feelings?

Feelings are mental associations and reactions to an emotion. They are coloured by our personal experiences and beliefs. Wait a minute. Aren’t feelings and emotions the same?

Well, they are many times used interchangeably so one might think they are the same, but the truth is that they are DIFFERENT.

What are emotions?

Emotions are involuntary bodily responses like when you’re when you go to school and come to know there is a surprise test. Your pulse increases and you feel uneasy in your stomach.

What is the difference between feelings and emotions?

On the other hand, feelings make of you aware of your emotions. So, feelings arise out of the narrative we give to the emotion. To understand this better, imagine you are sleeping peacefully at night and suddenly hear a loud knock on your bedroom door. You will instantly experience fear and your heart will beat faster. You might break into a sweat. While describing this incident to someone you will describe it as, “I felt terrified. It was really scary to imagine there might be an imposter in the house. I felt a sense of panic. ‘Terrified, scared, panic-stricken,’ are all feelings that are extension of the basic emotion of fear.

Why do we have these feelings and emotions?

  • So, one might wonder, WHY do we have these feelings? Isn’t life complicated enough with so many emotions.
  • Well, feeling might sometimes seem like a burden when they grow intense, like the feeling of grief or distress when you lose or break your favourite toy or when your beloved pet gets hurt.
  • But feelings are important as without them we would not have been able to build and accomplish our goals. Without care, wonder, expectation and a sense of pride; we wouldn’t have developed as a society.
  • Even animals have emotion. Think about a deer caught in headlight. It does experience fear. But it stops there. There is no feeling of horror as animals don’t have the symbolism of language and the sense to rationalize to turn that emotion into a feeling.
  • So, if we didn’t have feelings, we would be no different from animals. It is the ability to reason about the past and future and to have feelings that give way to action that has allowed us to dominate the food chain. It has helped us shape the world for our future through inventions and discoveries and the will to survive.
  • So, the next time you feel distressed or perplexed, know that the feeling is what makes you human and it will eventually pass.
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