lens-artists photo challenge: emotions

This week, Patti gives us the opportunity to focus on emotions…to share portraits or street photography that captures people’s feelings, such as happiness, anger, sadness, curiosity, or fear. 

Okay…this weeks lens-artist challenge, emotions, opens the door to one of my secret struggles…it is one of many that remain in a mud puddle of confusion.

I am not sure if I understand the difference between a feeling and an emotion.

So far this ongoing search for clarity has me understand an awareness of a feeling, like sadness, arises from my awareness of … tears/heart pain. I am able to acknowledge “anger” from a awareness of variations of speech and thoughts. Fear…the gut punch feeling in my stomach. I have experienced a lot of gut punch feelings since the latest events in Washington D.C.

I continue to ask myself, what is an emotion? I’ve looked at the word, emotion, and came to an awareness of “motion.” So, I’ve asked myself is emotion a feeling that motivates me to action? Today, at this moment in time, I’m going to go with yes…well…a tentative yes because within the word heroin is hero. There clearly is a mismatch there.

I do know for certain that to be driven by the emotional system often times is action that is separated from thinking. It can be action that is blocked from an awareness of moral shame, both internal shame or external shame. Now, I find myself questioning is shame a feeling, an emotion, or is it a mental formation that arises after a period of reflection?

Then I wonder…do feelings of anxiety (is anxiety a feeling or an emotion?) fog up a clear reflection of self with protective mechanisms of denial, rationalization, displacement, projection, and/or sublimation

Now…I ask myself are these defense mechanisms emotions…driven by feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, confusion.

I am certain that most of our communication with others is drawn from nonverbal communication. That is, the feelings/emotions that we interpret by another’s body language. Problems arise from this channel of communication when these interpretations are not clarified by the other.

I also believe that feelings are contagious; that is, a smile awakens a smile, a tear awakens a tear and fear awakens fear and anger awakens anger. I find that I just half smiled at this moment with an internal notation – we are impacted by a contagious virus as well as infectious feelings/emotions.

How are you feeling right now? I’m feeling a bit confused.

19 Comments

  1. Wonderful pondering this week Brenda – loved your closing thought especially. And agree whole-heartedly about the contagious nature of emotions – in fact I found myself smiling with you at the end.

  2. Hi, Brenda. Yes, wonderful ponderings and equally wonderful images. That last image in particular is very powerful, as well as the black and white image of the man touching his forehead. Now you have me running to Google to ponder the difference between feelings and emotions. I find it intriguing that some notorious people through the ages who denied their feelings ended up causing so much pain in others. Glad you joined us!

    1. Good day Patti. I have come to a place to consideration that denied feelings eventually explode…even pressure cookers have a valve.

  3. You’ve done an amazing amount of wondering with this challenge Brenda. And your images are terrific. Maybe feelings are the expressions of our emotions.

    1. Thank you Anne. I appreciate your feedback as it gives me more to explore…each question, each thought are like baby steps to a greater understanding.

  4. Thank you for the exploration of the meaning of the word and the range of emotions. I was drawn to the photo of the third image; the person with the body turned away from the camera. To me it has a feeling of loneliness.

    Perhaps I’m wrong, but it seem online, especially in the USA, that we’re expected to express only happiness and excitement. I’m happy you approached all of these in your post.

    1. Khürt, thank you for your comment as it has given me much to consider.

      I have heard anger and sadness defined as negative emotions while joy and happiness are noted to be positive. The label negative brings to mind a big sad face or a red error check while positive brings a big happy face or a gold star. Maybe labeling anger/sadness as unpleasant and happiness/joy as pleasant would begin to free Americans to more true to ourselves????

      The third image also speaks to me of loneliness. Your comment has me wonder if the feeling of loneliness is more about me as I don’t know what he was feeling or what thoughts were visiting him the moment???

      Much to consider on this journey of clarification. Thanks again!

  5. Loved your reasoning on emotions, Brenda. Your examples are great. And, they say 80% of our communication is body language. Khürt Williams’ comment about US commenting mostly happiness and excitement – I find it rather true. Up until the year 2020. I guess it is in the mentality of the country. In the Nordic countries we are more moody and not afraid of mentioning the downsides of life. If we travel eastwards, people are often sunny and positive as well.

    1. Thanks Leya. I have read past studies that suggest that people in Nordic countries are generally more satisfied with life than Americans. Your comment offers me more to ponder… feelings, emotions, and thoughts…a three course meal to nourish human understanding. Yet, so much global suffering…so much.

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