#Askingforafriend: What’s the difference between thoughts and feelings?

By Nate Bowman
GCU Office of Student Care
#Askingforafriend

The ability to discern between thoughts and feelings equips us to communicate effectively what is going on inside us.

But thoughts can be mislabeled as feelings.

For example, I might ask someone that classic, therapy-101 question, “How did that make you feel?” It’s an important question that can uncover very helpful information.

However, when thoughts are mislabeled as feelings, the response might start with something like, “I think …” or “I feel like they were being …” What you think or how the other person was being are not how you feel, though.

Consider this: Feelings can typically be described in one or two words.

I feel sad. I feel irritated. I feel relaxed.

Thoughts, on the other hand, are often a complete sentence or phrase.

I think sunny days are the best. I think they need to apologize for what they did.

When the difference between thoughts and feelings is muddied, it’s easy to lose connection with what is really going on inside us. When we lose connection with that, it can be difficult to connect with others.

Do you sometimes mislabel your thoughts as feelings? Practice distinguishing between your thoughts and feelings, using a list of “feeling words” as a reference. A good place to start is the eight core emotions: love, joy, passion, anger, pain, fear, guilt and shame. Sometimes, simply having the vocabulary to describe our feelings helps tremendously.

Want even more practice? Connect with a friend, family member, significant other, etc., by asking them to tell you three things about their day and how they felt about each. Then switch places and answer the question yourself.

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GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/