The Emotions Guide: Emotion Wheel
If you have ever talked to a therapist or have been in a therapy session before, you might have been asked questions like “How does that make you feel?” or “How would you describe your mood?” Emotional intelligence (sometimes used in parallel with emotional literacy) has been neglected by many. There are no high school or college classes to teach you how to identify, understand, and manage your feelings in a healthy way. The Emotion Wheel, the first of many topics in the Emotions Guide series, is a tool that helps you identify your feelings, label them (put them into words), and improve your emotional intelligence and its 5 components:
- Social Skills
What is the Emotion Wheel?
The Emotion Wheel is used as a taxonomy of human emotion. (1) The first Emotion Wheel was created by Robert Plutchik in the 1980s. However, there are many similar models on the internet as the concept of emotions has evolved throughout the years. (2) We have created our own Emotion Wheel (based on science and literature) that shows you 7 core (most intense) emotions that are the foundation for all other emotions
Theories About How Emotions Happen (3)
Theory 1: Stimulus → emotional reaction (emotion) → physiological reaction
Theory 2: Stimulus → physiological reaction → emotional reaction (emotion)
Theory 3: Stimulus → physiological reaction → label response → emotional reaction (emotion)
- The emotion you feel depends on how you label the emotion (change your thoughts and you will change your emotions)
Theory 4: Stimulus → thoughts about the stimulus → emotional reaction (emotion) → physiological reaction
- Your thinking causes your emotions, therefore, if you change your thoughts, you can change your emotions
According to Mr. Plutchik, every emotion has an evolutionary function that we use as a survival tool. For example, feelings of anger might elicit an attacking behavior whose function (the reason behind it) is demolition of someone/something. Emotions are extremely complex, and in order to understand them we have to understand that (3):
- There is a connection between emotions and physiological responses
- There is a connection between emotions and behavioral expressions
The 7 Core Emotions of the Emotion Wheel
Although these are the 7 fundamental emotions, people can also experience the blend of these emotions. For example, when sadness and surprise are combined we tend to feel an emotion we label as disappointment.
Emotions might differ across different age groups, cultures, and genders. Nonetheless, we all experience them and because of their impact on our health and well-being, we must take the time to recognize them and understand them.
How to Use the Emotion Wheel?
The Emotion Wheel helps increase emotional awareness by allowing people to dig deeper into their emotions. There is not a right or a wrong way to use the Emotion Wheel - you can use it in any way that works for you.
- Identify the core emotion
- Dive deeper into the wheel, and identify the specific emotion related to your core emotion
- Identify the possible cause
- Discover your WHY (why do you feel this way?)
- Manage your emotions accordingly
How to Get Better at Understanding Your Emotions
- According to research done by an American psychologist James Pennebaker, those who wrote about their emotions gained a new perspective, which helped them understand them better (4)
- Talk about your emotions (5)
- Although it is not easy to be vulnerable and talk about our emotions, talking about them can make us realize that we are not alone and that there is a way out of our problem/situation
- Recognize/label your emotions
- Using the Emotion Wheel can help tremendously
- Practice self-evaluation and self-awareness
- Be honest with yourself, and highlight your strengths while also acknowledging your weaknesses