For many, being able to open up and identify what we’re feeling is difficult. Our feelings may be buried so deeply that we may not know anything is wrong. Or, we may be too focused on our achievements, and reaching the next level as quickly as possible, to notice.

Throughout our lives, we are constantly told that we should strive for perfection, keep doing better, continue moving ahead. That kind of dedication takes hard work and it can impact both your body and your mind. Feelings of resentment, anger, sadness or fear may become part of your innermost feelings. They may even underlie your current feelings. It’s that kind of go-go-go mindset which often means we don’t take the time we need to think about how we are feeling, how our minds are recuperating from the constant daily grind.

When we fail to look inside of ourselves and see what’s lurking there, we may miss negative emotions that are building up over time. You may think that everything is perfect but secretly your subconscious — or even distant conscious — is slowly stacking up all of the negative emotions which you’ve been experiencing. For some reason, your mind thinks they are hurtful and important and therefore worth keeping.

Unfortunately, the only way to deal with those emotions is to go back through all the mental barriers we’ve built. You need to get back to where your innermost feelings dwell. At this point, you may be wondering, “how can I work on identifying my emotions?” Well, there are actually a few tips, tricks and tools out there to help. The one I’m going to share with you today is called The Wheel of Emotions.

When talking about emotions, it quickly becomes apparent that there are many swirling around in each of us. There are actually around 34,000 known human emotions! With such a massive range of emotions, it can be nearly impossible to distinguish what you’re feeling and where it falls on that spectrum.

Actually, there are eight primary emotions which can serve as the foundation for all others: anticipation, joy, surprise, sadness, anger, acceptance, fear and disgust. They are grouped into polar opposite pairs: surprise and anticipation, joy and sadness, fear and anger, acceptance and disgust. So, instead of trying to wrap our heads around 34,000 emotions, we need only focus on right — at first.

The idea behind the Wheel of Emotions is that all emotions we may feel are activated due to a specific stimuli, which makes us act with certain behavioral patterns. There may be the following survival behaviors which drive our actions:

  • Protection: activated by fear and terror
  • Incorporation: activated by acceptance
  • Reproduction: activated by joy and pleasure
  • Exploration: activated by curiosity and play
  • Destruction: activated by anger and rage
  • Rejection: activated by disgust
  • Reintegration: activated by sadness and grief
  • Orientation: activated by surprise

Of course, all of these emotional reactions happen on a subconscious level. We may not even be aware of them. It’s not until a crisis event happens (or another intense event) that we may start questioning our feelings and responses. When we are ready to face our emotions, the inability to verbalize how we are feeling may paralyze the process.

Instead, we can use the Wheel of Emotions to target where on the spectrum our emotions may fall. Then, using the directions presented, we can see where that feeling may be stemming from (stimulus) or heading toward (attached emotions). Without the ability to understand our emotions, we cannot help our mental states. The understanding is key. That’s why the Wheel of Emotions is an extremely important psychological and emotional tool.

 

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