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What Is Emotion?
Story? Or Experience?

What is Emotion? If you look mindfully into your emotional reactions to any situation, you will find that emotions have two distinct components:

  • cognitive component (or thinking components) and an
  • affective component (or feeling component).

For example, you saw someone on the street. You recognize his face and remember his name, and a string of association quickly flashes through your mind, assume these memories are unpleasant, this is someone you dislike and distrust ( the cognitive component). Then you feel shaky and uncomfortable ( the effective component). You decided to turn away to avoid him.

What is Emotion? The cognitive components of emotion is comprised of a perception; an interpretation; an evaluation – such as good or bad, right or wrong, like and dislike, agree or disagree; an analysis; and perhaps a speculation such as, ‘this person would probably ask me for an loan.’ The cognitive component of emotion is a story that the thinking mind constructs about the situation.

The affective components of emotion is comprised of sensations such as softness, hardness, shakiness, tightness, warmth, coolness, lightness, heaviness, constriction. The affective component of emotion is an experience of the emotion; this is the actual energy of the emotion. The experience consists of non-verbal, non-conceptual feeling in the body.



Underrstanding what is emotion brings our attention back to the experience of emotions.

Related reading:

What is emotion?

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