How to Use a Feelings Wheel
I LOVE feelings wheels. I give them to every person I possibly can. All of my clients know that I’m crazy about them. I use them consistently and I highly suggest everybody in the whole world use it too.
With that gassed up introduction, let me explain why I’m so obsessed. Most of the time we don’t know the exact word for what we’re feeling. We can manage a good guess that is somewhat close but normally it’s general rather than exact.
In the middle of the circle are the primary feelings that we tend to use in common language. We generalize most life events to fit into these 6 feelings. The six are not descriptive enough for everything we experience in life. I want you spread out into the outer two circles.
The sadness wedge which you’ll notice has lonely under it. Yes, we feel sad when we are lonely but we also understand that there is a difference between being sad and being lonely. If I were to tell you that I’m feeling sad There is a good likelihood that you would say ‘I’m sorry to hear that, I hope you feel better’ or ask me ‘what’s going on’. However, if I said that I was feeling lonely there’s a higher likelihood you would say ‘do you want to hang out’ or would you like to run errands with me’ because most people understand loneliness has different requirements and fixes than sadness.
This can also help with anxiety. When we experience anxiety there can be a loss of control and a significant amount of confusion because anxiety feels like something’s wrong but you might have been watching Netflix. There probably is something concerning you even if there’s nothing wrong at that very moment. It’s always important that we listen to our body and take those cues. So to use it for anxiety all you have to do is pull it up on your phone or if you have the paper copy that works too. I personally pull it up on my phone because, #millennial. Read through every feeling on the sheet. In my experience, the right feeling just clicks into place like a magnet. You’ll feel it happen. I don’t know how that works, I don’t know how it happens but it does. Once you identify what you’re feeling you will likely know what situation is causing your anxiety. For example, let’s say you choose abandoned hopefully you will only have one or two situations that have made you feel that way at a time. Okay if you’re feeling abandoned this abandonment is causing anxiety you know that that particular situation is what you need to handle and cope with so that way you can rid yourself of that anxiety for good and not temporarily calm yourself.
Feelings are a feedback loop. They are our natural response to what we experience in the world. If someone cut you off in traffic, you’re going to be frustrated. If someone in your family dies, you’re going to feel grief. If someone gives you a million dollars, you’re going to feel ecstatic. If someone steps on your Jordans, you’re going to feel hostile. All of these are normal natural feelings. Feelings are electrical currents of energy flowing through our bodies that change with each situation. The more comfortable we are with feelings, the more comfortable we become with expressing and processing them. This can make your life so much easier. Yes, it does take some time to get used to a feelings wheel, particularly if you are someone who hates feeling as most people do. Once you get used to being specific and accurate about the feelings and experiences that you’re going through you can trim this whole process down to less than 5 minutes easily. Everything is difficult when you start it, this is no different.