(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


In an exhibition of some of the works of the late Jackson Pollock the artist was quoted as having said that when he created he was “expressing his feelings rather than illustrating them.” The distinction is a powerful one which can have a profound effect on how life shows up.

First, to express feelings one must have the ability to feel them. An amazing percentage of the population does not have access to the full and rich range of their feelings. Oh, sure, everyone experiences anger or fear or some of the other baser emotions from time to time, but that’s not the same as being conscious and aware of what one is feeling. That is a skill which takes time, intention, and training to achieve.

It’s easy to confuse emotions with feelings. Immediacy is one of the differences; we react to emotions, but respond to feelings. We tend to be run by emotions (and sometimes run from them!) whereas feelings can be powerful guides in life.

Highly successful people can feel fully without being overwhelmed by their emotions. That’s known as having emotional competency.

The second part of the Distinction points to the somewhat detached nature of illustrating. It tends to be a more cerebral, skills-based activity. Now to be clear, the world benefits from illustrators; it’s not a lesser-than skill. But it is different from expressing feelings. For example, experiencing eating a peach is different from talking about eating one. Pollock expressed what he was feeling, not merely creating an illustration.


Coaching Point: How conscious are you of using your feelings to express your life versus just trying to live up to an image?


Copyright 2015 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.