The Feelings Wheel – How It Can Help You Understand Your Own Emotions

Did you know that a human can experience up to 34,000 different emotions? With this in mind, it’s no surprise that we often struggle to put our feelings into words.

Our feelings are often crammed under umbrella terms such as “happy,” “angry,” or “sad.” But what if these words don’t do enough to describe how we truly feel? — well, that’s where The Feelings Wheel comes in.

The Feelings Wheel is a tool that helps people explain the emotions they are feeling in greater detail. This can be used by writers to allow them to convey a character’s feelings more elegantly, or by therapists and teachers to help young people learn to label and explain their emotions.

But it’s not solely made for children-  Adults, too, could benefit from guidance in labeling and grasping their emotional experiences too.

The diagram was created by American psychologist Dr. Robert Plutchik, and it all began with 8 central emotions that act as a sort of foundation for every other emotion that we experience. The 8 central emotions are; sadness, joy, surprise, acceptance, anticipation, anger, fear, and disgust. 

How to use The Feelings Wheel

An emotion wheel is a tool that helps people explain and communicate their emotions, as well as understand the relationship and intensity of their feelings. Emotional intelligence relies heavily on the capacity to explain and identify emotions.

People can make use of the wheel to understand their emotions and come to grips with how they are feeling, making informed decisions, seeking resolution, gaining closure, and ultimately becoming more self-aware and self-compassionate.

Practise Makes Perfect

Start by making a conscious effort to add the Feelings Wheel to everyday conversations with family and friends as a way to describe the highs and lows of each person’s day. This gives you a better understanding of your own day and normalizes talking about real feelings rather than bottling them up or using ineffective umbrella terms.

When you use a Feelings Wheel, you are demonstrating appropriate ways to process and communicate emotions, and encouraging others around you to do the same. 

When is The Feelings Wheel used?

The wheel can also be useful when trying to express your emotions to others, such as in therapy. The ability to put a name to what we are feeling can offer people a sense of control and aid in the development of a plan for moving forward and coping. 

Many businesses use the wheel or variations on it to enable team-building and encourage members and employees to find common ground, comprehend one another’s points of view, and grow in their own self-awareness. This can result in improved workplace relationships as well as individual skills.

Plutchik developed the emotion wheel after noticing that all animals express a variety of emotions. The idea of feeling is a complex process, and dealing with our emotions can be difficult at times. The emotion wheel provides explanations and allows us to investigate why we feel the way we do, as well as how we express those feelings.

An emotion wheel is a tool that people can make use of in many aspects of their lives, from relationships to employment to coming to terms with their emotions and moving ahead. Finally, it develops increased self-awareness and comprehension. 

There is a second approach to using a feelings wheel; you could use it to identify your desired emotions. If you are feeling frustrated about your job, you might look across the wheel at anger’s opposite emotion, joy, and then look for a new job (or scenario within your existing career) that allows you to feel the second and third-tier emotions, such as “proud,” which is commonly associated with a feeling of joy.

Most importantly, understanding your emotions helps you realize there isn’t anything wrong with you; it’s just a phase, which reduces a sense of helplessness. We can take a fresh look at the imbalance in our careers, relationships, and settings. Rather than assuming there is something wrong with you, you can instead ask yourself, “Which of my emotional needs are not being met?”

Benefits of using The Feelings Wheel

  • Using the wheel reduces your fight-or-flight response by stimulating your prefrontal cortex through emotion categorization. Assisting you in regulating your emotions and managing your actions.
  • The core of Emotional Intelligence is emotional self-awareness. Every time you use the wheel to recognize emotions, you build this awareness, effectively expanding it.
  • Keeping a record of how you feel over time might help you identify long-term emotional trends and determine how much time you spend experiencing some emotions over others.