Have you ever heard of the emotions wheel? If not, it is pretty much as it’s described- a wheel labeled with emotions. The emotions wheel was developed to help people to articulate their feelings clearly, & this wheel helps people to do just that. It looks much like an old spoked wheel. The center of the wheel has basic feelings labeled such as anger, afraid & happy. Going towards the outer edge are some more specific feelings that relate to each emotion & the last round at the edge has even more specific feelings. For example, the center may say “anger”, the next round above it will say things like “hostile, hateful, hurt, angry” then the next round above that could say “jealous, irritated, frustrated, critical”. There are variations on this wheel, but all share the same basic format.
Emotions wheels are a very useful tool, I believe. Sometimes it can be hard to put feelings into words. If you already struggle with words maybe due to aphasia from a brain injury or simply aren’t good with words, emotions wheels can be very helpful in finding a way to describe your emotions.
Or, maybe you are someone who isn’t really in touch with their emotions. You know you feel things but are unsure of what those emotions are. That can happen after narcissistic abuse because of the gaslighting. When you’re told over & over that what you feel is wrong or you don’t feel that way but this way instead, it can be hard to recognize your emotions. My mother always criticized my “Bailey temper”, making me sound like I had a serious anger problem. Eventually I learned that my supposed terrible temper was sometimes just frustration, not anger. In the midst of the situation though, I had no idea of that. I thought I was an angry person.
There are also times it can be very hard to pinpoint exactly why you feel the way you do about something. For example, I sometimes feel extremely angry when people get mad at me for something that isn’t my fault. The sillier the issue, the more angry I’m likely to get. Like, if I was outside without my phone & missed an unexpected call, & the caller was mad I didn’t answer, that would infuriate me. Thanks to the emotions wheel, I have learned feeling shame & humiliation are at the root of it. Those feelings are there because growing up, I felt such intense pressure to do everything right, & when I didn’t, I was harshly criticized. Recognizing that has helped me to deal with my old wounds so I don’t immediately get angry if that type of situation arises.
Whether you are in therapy or not, no matter how far along on your healing journey you are, or even if you haven’t been abused, I highly recommend getting an emotions wheel. You can search for them online- there are many free variations out there. When you’re struggling with your emotions, look at the wheel & figure out what you’re feeling. You may be surprised what you learn.
Make sure you don’t forget to pray, too. Let God show you whatever it is you need to learn. He will show you things that help you tremendously. The wheel will help you but not nearly as much as God will!
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