When I start working with new clients they often struggle to identify language that properly captures their emotions. Most of us are able to determine if we feel negative or positive/pleasant or unpleasant/good or bad, but the specific feeling gets lost. The Feeling Wheel can be an amazing tool to help individuals increase emotional literacy, emotional awareness and resilience.
Putting language to our experiences can be a powerful way to harness our resources and strengths. Once we are able to access that we feel angry (or more specifically disrespected etc.); we are more able to identify the unmet need. Identifying the need can then allow us to understand what we can do for ourselves, or ask of our loved ones and community. If I know I am feeling scared or anxious, I may then recognize that my need for safety or security isn’t present. If I am feeling lonely or rejected, I may have a desire for connection or to be understood that is absent. Through the process of more accurately identifying, articulating and expressing our feelings we can then take better care of ourselves.
I recommend folks start by trying to access the core emotion found in the inner circle and work outward to find the more specific descriptor. Then pause, do a quick body scan, and ask a few questions. What does it feel like in your body when you are ____ (feeling word)? What thoughts accompany this feeling? What was the first sign this feeling was coming forward? Does this point to an unmet need or potential boundary violation? And finally, can you find a way to tolerate the discomfort of this feeling or do you need to find a coping skill to manage it and move through it? Is there something you can do (or not do) that will allow you to get some space if this feeling is negative or distressing?
Deepening your understanding of your inner emotional world can allow for emotional freedom. Give this process a try
The Feeling Wheel was developed by Gloria Wilcox
Image sourced: https://imgur.com/gallery/q6hcgs