Buckle up! We are going to talk about emotions. Most people struggle talking about “the feels” for a couple of reasons:
- Sharing emotions requires vulnerability, often at a time when we feel uncomfortable, confused and overwhelmed
- Most of us were not really taught a robust language of emotions
The bottom line: emotions are complex and challenging to navigate. For those seeking support in therapy, expressing and understanding these emotions is a crucial step towards healing and growth. Enter the feelings wheel: a simple yet powerful tool that can make the journey through the emotional maze a bit more manageable.
What is the Feelings Wheel?
Imagine a colour wheel, but instead of colours, it’s filled with emotions. The feelings wheel is a visual representation of a wide spectrum of emotions, neatly organized into categories. It’s like having a map that helps you pinpoint exactly what you’re feeling in the vast landscape of emotions. It was developed by therapist Dr. Gloria Willcox in 1982 and has been a foundational piece of therapy sessions ever since.
Why is it Important?
Precision in Expression:
One of the reasons why many struggle with emotions is because they have never developed a language of emotions, short of those we learned in kindergarten: sad, mad, happy…These emotions are at the centre of the feelings wheel, offering us a base upon which to start naming them. However, as we move out of the wheel, you can see a language that more accurately expresses what you feel. The feelings wheel acts as a guide, offering precise words to describe your emotions. Instead of a generic “I feel sad,” you can pinpoint whether you’re really feeling lonely, ashamed or inadequate to name a few.
Enhanced Emotional Awareness:
Many of us have a handful of go-to emotions we easily recognize, but the feelings wheel introduces us to a more extensive emotional vocabulary. This expanded awareness allows for a deeper understanding of oneself and the nuances within each emotion.
Supports Effective Communication:
For therapists and clients alike, the feelings wheel acts as a common language. It bridges the gap between the sometimes abstract world of emotions and the need for clear, effective communication in therapy sessions. It’s a tool that promotes a shared understanding in your sessions. As a bonus, once you develop your “feelings language”, it will spill over into your day to day communications, giving you the tools to help others understand and meet your needs.
Navigating Emotional Patterns:
The wheel isn’t just about identifying emotions; it’s also about recognizing patterns. By regularly using the feelings wheel, you can start noticing trends in your emotional experiences. Are certain situations triggering specific emotions? Are there patterns in how you respond to certain feelings? Once you have that “a-ha moment”, you can’t unsee what you have recognized and the changes you have been looking for start to fall into place.
How Does it Work in Therapy?
Therapists often integrate the feelings wheel into sessions by encouraging clients to explore their emotions by using the wheel as a reference. It becomes a starting point for deeper conversations, helping clients articulate their feelings and dive into the underlying issues.
In conclusion, the feelings wheel is more than just a colourful chart – it’s a practical and insightful tool that empowers individuals on their emotional journey. It transforms the abstract into the concrete, making the process of understanding and expressing emotions a bit more tangible and a lot more empowering. So, the next time you find yourself lost in the maze of feelings, consider turning to the feelings wheel as your guide toward clarity and understanding.
Reach out and find out how our therapists use the Feelings Wheel to help our clients learn more about themselves so that they can improve relationships, feel stronger and live the life they deserve to live. And check out our RESOURCES tab for a copy of the Feelings Wheel that you can start using now!Learn More
Pop culture tells us that the New Year is the time of year to initiate change. For some reason, we are told that our motivation should be high, new goals are looming to be tackled and everyone seems to be intent on getting “fresh start.” But not everyone experiences high energy and motivation, and quite often, for those who do, it’s typically gone in a week or two. You may be asking yourself how to combat that lack of energy/motivation/desire to change while seemingly surrounded by people who are all happy and excited for the new year. Here are four ways you can challenge the New Year-NewYou pressure and embrace who you are today.
Be careful what you consume.
Social media doesn’t make setting and achieving new year goals easy. You can’t help but feel “less than” when influencers are posting their brand-new goals and seemingly sticking to them without any signs of struggle. That being said, here and now, remind yourself that none of it is REAL.
Here’s what is real: even though those influencers on social media seem to have their life together perfectly even a month into the new year, they probably don’t have it together any better than you do. Many social media influencers are paid to represent an aspirational lifestyle.What you see on their accounts is a small portion of their lives. Make no mistake: they skip days at the gym, fall off of the nutrition wagon, yell at their kids and suffer from depression and anxiety. If you are finding social media triggering, damaging to your own self esteem and mindset, and simply overwhelming, take control of what you have control over: how and when you use social media. Setting limits on the time you spend scrolling, the accounts you follow or even take a break altogether. Observe how this impacts your mental health and self-concept and ask yourself whether social media is enhancing or detracting from your life.
You do you!
No two humans are completely alike. Developing the ability to identify what you need and figuring out how to have those needs met is something that only you can determine. Being inquisitive and truly asking yourself “what do I need right now?” can help you manage the fatigue and overwhelm that comes with modern life. The more adept you become at listening to that inner voice, the more confident you will become in prioritizing it. Comparisonitis is real! Keep your blinders on to what others are doing and how they are doing it and give yourself permission to take your journey at your own pace. Speak to yourself as you would to someone else: with kindness and caring.
Reject the new year/new you Pressure and Own it
The concept of New Year’s Resolutions is in itself, an unrealistic expectation. News flash: you don’t have to jump on the New Year’s Resolution bandwagon! Everyone seems to be making new goals for the new year, and it’s become a badge to be working on yourself. Guess what, you don’t have to set goals to work on yourself. You just don’t. To shut this pressure down, think about how you will respond when someone asks you what your new year goals are. Here are some ideas: “I don’t really have any at the moment,” or “I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions.” A new year does not mean you have to refresh your whole life. If you started goals in October and have been working on them, keep working. Some people are simply content with where they are and the journey they’re already on. You don’t need to change and implement drastic changes in your life to succeed, just because we turned a page on the calendar. Simply keep doing what you were already doing and putting off (or eliminating) assessing and reassessing your goals is just fine.
Take time to Breath and step back
The new year is when everyone decides they need to head full speed into new projects. They fill up their schedules with work and the gym and going out as they strive to re-adjust, re-invent and revive. Here’s a thought: maybe the new year can be a time to relax and reflect. You just finished your busy holiday season, so you are likely to be experiencing fatigue and burn out. Take time to sit back, relax, and breathe for a bit. Allocate some time to yourself if you can. Mark it on your calendar, just as you would any other commitment. These times for rest, reflection and self-care don’t need to be expensive, fancy grand gestures. Taking the time to just be can be the life-giving tonic you need to fuel your days and improve your quality of life. And while you’re at it, turn the volume down on that voice in your head that is telling you that taking a break means you’re being lazy. Enough already. Every living being needs to rest and nourish themselves. This culture of busyness is B.S.
While January may seem like a good time for goal setting and new beginnings, we don’t have to succumb to the pressure of “starting off fresh”. Taking time to think about what is going well in your life, and simply trying to do more of it is one way to take the pressure off of yourself from setting lofty goals, and gives you the space to learn and really understand what and who brings you joy. Endeavouring to inject more of those things into your day to day life can be the only fresh start you need. That, combined with an intent to be gentle on yourself in this fast-paced, comparison-driven and sometimes harsh world is a sure way to foster wellness in this coming year.
So New Year, New You? Nope. The you that you are right now is just fine. Change can happen at any time, and is best achieved when the motivation is actually present, and not manufactured. Just because someone else said that the change in the calendar must mark the starting line for self-improvement, doesn’t mean you have to buy into the messaging. Rest, be gentle on yourself. Recover from the holidays and give yourself time and space to get back into routine. If the only thing you change is your ability to love yourself and learn to actually listen to what your mind, body and soul needs, you are on an amazing path toward wellness and contentment in this new year.Learn More