Willful feeling is the conscious action of intending how we want to feel in any given situation. This concept is easier to comprehend by understanding the difference between emotions and feelings. In simplified terms an emotion is the initial reaction on how a situation is perceived based on a primal reaction or a past experience. A feeling occurs once the situation is processed and interpreted by our brain, therefore attaching a meaning to an emotion.
One can therefore say an emotion happens at the heart and guttural level of human beings without much of our conscious control while feelings happen at a more conscious level in the brain.
Emotions are in general instinctive reactions which occur after a triggering event. Such events are either an external situation which generates an emotional response, such as fear, joy, sadness, relief or love. Events can also be triggered by an internal self-generated situation in which an unconscious memory of a past experience (non-declarative memory) can elicit an emotional response. The emotional response happens without much of our conscious will, happening automatically and at a physical level.
Feelings, on the other hand, are formed when an emotion has been processed and subjected to a conditional reaction based on past experiences. Such experiences guide us to interpret an emotion in different deliberate ways. For example when experiencing fear we can choose to stay frightened, remaining in the original emotion or choose to react alert yet centered, consequently impersonating a feeling which differs from the original emotion.
A mentally processed emotion evokes the feeling we choose to manifest. We can say that an emotion is a creation and a feeling is an interpretation. Therefore when we consciously choose to manage an emotion it becomes a feeling.
In today’s world where our safety for real physical threat is not a constant, as no tigers will chase us on the way to the office ; ), we can intend to live emotions as feelings. We can apply this concept before confronting a situation by reflecting on how we want to feel regardless of what emotions may surface. By envisioning our feelings a priori we can navigate through life’s challenges in a more intentional manner. So next time you walk into a situation that will probably exert on you a negative emotion intend for willful feeling.
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