What is the Difference Between Thoughts and Feelings

The main difference between thoughts and feelings is that thoughts are our ideas, perceptions, or opinions about the world around us, whereas feelings are our reactions to emotions or sensations.

Thoughts and feelings are two mental associations that are very close to our lives. Both occur in our minds and have a direct impact on our lives. Generally, we tend to use these two words as synonyms, but there is a slight difference between the two words, thoughts and feelings.

Key Areas Covered

1. What are Feelings
     – Definition, Features
2. What are Thoughts
     – Definition, Features
3. Difference Between Thoughts and Feelings
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Feelings, Thoughts, Emotions, Sensations

Difference Between Thoughts and Feelings - Comparison Summary

What are Feelings

Feelings are mental associations. They can be our reactions to emotions, sensations, or other things around us. Feelings can involve reactions to both physical and mental sensations – physical sensations like cold, warmth, and pain and mental sensations like anxiety, comfort, happiness, fear, etc.

According to Dr. Antonio D’Amasio, “Feelings are mental experiences of body states, which arise as the brain interprets emotions, themselves physical states arising from the body’s responses to external stimuli. (The order of such events is: I am threatened, experience fear, and feel horror.).”

Thoughts and Feelings - What is the difference?

Within a single day, we can experience numerous feelings. Moreover, our personal experiences, beliefs, and memories often influence our feelings. Therefore, two people facing the same situation may experience different types of feelings. It’s because of feelings and emotions that we experience happiness and sadness in life. Suppression or denial of feelings for a long term can have severe consequences like anxiety, depression, anger management issues, eating disorders, and addictions. 

What are Thoughts

Thoughts are ideas, perceptions, or opinions produced by thinking, or occurring suddenly in the mind. It’s through thoughts that we perceive the world around us. In general, thoughts can happen independently of sensory stimulation. Some thoughts are fleeting, while some thoughts are log-lived. These long-lived thoughts eventually make up our attitudes towards certain things. These attitudes can be either negative or positive. Moreover, thoughts can vary from simple to very complex. In fact, all of the technological advancements in the world today are a result of people’s thoughts.

Thoughts vs Feelings - a Comparison

Many factors can influence our thoughts. These include family, education, genetics, and experiences in life. But we can usually keep our thoughts under conscious control. If you are well aware of your thoughts, you can make an effort to change them. In brief, it’s thoughts that make us feel and behave in a certain way and determine our personality and attitude.

Difference Between Thoughts and Feelings

Definition

Thoughts are ideas, perceptions, or opinions produced by thinking, or occurring suddenly in the mind, whereas feelings are emotions or reactions to physical or mental sensations.

Nature

Moreover, thoughts are our ideas, perceptions, or opinions about the world around us, whereas feelings are our reactions to emotions or sensations.

Order

Feelings come first. For example, newborn babies have feelings, but they may not have thoughts. Therefore, we may experience feelings first and thoughts later as we grow up and gain more experiences.

Complexity

Feelings tend to be simpler than thoughts.

Conclusion

Thoughts and feelings are two mental associations that are very close to our lives. Generally, we tend to use these two words as synonyms, but there is a slight difference between the two. The main difference between thoughts and feelings is that thoughts are our ideas, perceptions, or opinions about the world around us, whereas feelings are our reactions to emotions or sensations.

Reference:

1. “What Are Feelings and Why Do They Matter?” Launch Centers.
2. “What Are Thoughts & Emotions?” Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Emotions-mixed-emotions-feelings” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “Thinker-words-thoughts-mind-white” (CC0) via Pixabay

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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