It can be difficult, at times, to identify an emotion that we feel at a given moment.
The Feelings Wheel, created by Dr. Gloria Willcox, can help us put words to emotions and care for our mental health.
We are here to talk about the primary emotions identified within this wheel. It can be difficult, at times, to identify an emotion that we feel at a given moment. We may use phrases like “I feel blah; I don’t feel good”.
When we are having an emotional experience, it can be difficult to use words to describe our inner world. However, identifying our emotions can be helpful in understanding this inner world.
It can help with acknowledging how these emotions sit in our body, communicate them with others and understand the way in which each of these emotions impact our well-being.
Happiness may feel like a casual emotion but is not given much attention. Next time we feel happy within our mind, body and overall well-being – let’s try to identify the feeling behind it.
This can help us remain grounded, truly process the emotion we feel and sit with it for a while. Doing so can help us better understand our own relationship with that particular feeling. We receive information about how we react when we feel accepted.
This can serve as a grave source of evidence when we experience that feeling in the future. We not only would know how to manage it but it can also provide control within ourselves regarding our reactions. Our mind and body can be a guiding resource of how the emotion plays itself out.
Happiness can be difficult to track when it is overpowered by fear of it being taken away.
But understanding what makes us happy, the underlying feeling and how we react to it, could possibly help embrace it more.
It is important to know that the expression of all the emotions within this chart can considerably differ across cultures. A lot of these feelings can be more openly and acceptably expressed within individualized cultures while considered stigmatizing within more collectivistic cultures.
In a lot of Asian cultures, there may be conditioning around keeping the “negative” feelings unacknowledged as a way to put others’ needs over our own.
Hence, when I started learning about emotions and tried to integrate it in my life, it was difficult to concretely identify each of these because there is an inherent belief that these emotions need to be snapped out of.
We are also concerned with community belonging and may fear rejection/sense inappropriateness in showing sadness for a “long” period of time. Because of the possibility of the emotion being inappropriate or the intensity being too much, we may end up suppressing it.
Having said that, there have been a lot of western values around expressing emotions that are now being inherited within other cultures. And, while it is creating a sense of openness and de-stigmatizing the value of expressing emotions like sadness, it is also important to acknowledge that people in Asian cultures or other collectivistic cultures are not in the space where openness of our emotions or someone else’s, is acceptable.
We are not conditioned to do so, and each of us will be able to be in that space at our own pace when we give ourselves the permission to do so. Until then, we can continue to show up to each other’s process with kindness.
Similarly, Cis men are socialized to not express openly and communicating emotions can differ across genders. Opening that space up for men to show up for their emotions and respecting their process of how they decide to express~ can normalize it.
We are all going through our own internal processes and culture plays a significant role in how we choose to interact with different emotions.
In the last year, the emotion of fear has been heavily weighed across humanity. We are experiencing changes like never before and are forced to adapt to situations that we have no control on. We are forced to sit with parts of ourselves that we may not consider bright and sunny.
With a lot of changes and transitions happening in our surroundings, we may find ourselves overwhelmed with the smallest of changes because of my desire to control what I can.
Sometimes we tend to feel helpless with where our thoughts take us.
With this kind of destabilization, Our mind may wander to places that can be perceived as difficult and further activate our sense of anxiety.
Fear can show itself differently. We may find ourselves angry, or feel the need to control and sometimes even project our own fears on others by dismissing it. Until we realize, the real name for these actions could be any of these feelings under the realm of fear.
Anger can be healthy and when we feel it, how can we transition its’ judgment to curiosity? Acknowledging the emotion and identifying the underlying feelings associated with it can help catch our thoughts when they are down in a spiral. We may start identifying ways in which we react to these emotions and understand cues associated with our bodily reactions.
When we’re surprised, for better or for worse, our emotions intensify to a higher level. If we’re surprised with something positive, we’ll feel the happiness and joy with more intensity. Similarly, if we’re surprised by something negative, our feelings of anger, despair or unhappiness continue to intensify.
I tend to dislike surprises because of the level of consciousness that it brings to the present. It is associated with expectations of how we need to react. But brushing off these expectations can help embrace the emotion. It can be a way of telling ourselves that there may be important information in this moment and I need to pay attention.
When we are able to acknowledge this emotion and its underlying feelings, we train our brain to be more comfortable accepting surprise, and by that it also means readiness being comfortable with uncertainty, ambiguity and change.
This emotion, to varying degrees, is uncomfortable to acknowledge, accept and act upon. Women particularly may find their anger being shut down frequently.
In situations where anger would be the most natural response but no space to express it, the anger can turn into resentment. Women may find themselves conditioned to dismiss their anger or anger may be expressed in the form of tears.
Anger can always be managed in healthier ways but we would only know that once we are able to build a relationship with it.
Instead of shying away from our very uncontrollable tears, we may use them to assert ourselves. Instead of using them to bury down my anger, we may use them to identify our needs. Gentle reminder~ tears are powerful to refresh one’s energy once they are out of the system.
Anger gives a lot of information about the situation. As a therapist, one thing that has been useful is to understand what our emotions are trying to tell us. Acknowledging and embracing the anger can help create a boundary with our own selves about how much of the situation is to be internalized and how much is it a reflection on an external situation.
How often do we feel disgusted with ourselves? How often do we sense shame lingering in our body? Last time we judged ourselves for what we shared with others? The number of times we find ourselves bound by words like “should” and “must”.
How often do we play a situation in our mind drowned in embarrassment? How often do we feel disgusted with someone else? When they don’t fit the values that we hold. When they have opposing views and belong to a different social identity?
How often does the disapproval that we hold towards someone reflect our actions? It’s heartbreaking to think that the systems we grow up in have a deep impact on our attitudes, at the same time making us more susceptible to shaming others and our own selves.
The term ‘disgust’ sounds harsh but it is present within all of us way more than we would like.
It is used and abused in society – being both a force of social connection and a cause of prejudice and stigmatization across different identities. If we try to pay further attention to this emotion, we can draw parallels with our behaviors and thoughts.
We tend to mask our shame/disgust with dismissal, grandiose and self-pity. But what does it look like to truly accept yourself when you do feel disgusted and ask yourself why?
Each time that I have questioned the disgust within myself, I am surfaced with a range of societal and personal expectations of myself. But if we don’t acknowledge this emotion, we are often bound by these expectations without truly questioning them.
Identifying emotions and the feelings associated with it can unravel the range of expectations towards ourselves and others~ further giving us a chance to re-evaluate and change. We all respond to situations differently, and our emotional response is no exception.
By being specific in how we use our emotions we can pinpoint a common shared experience that will help us to understand what each other may be feeling. If we empathize with where they are, it allows them to feel accepted even if you do not agree.
Not only is it helpful for others to understand what is going on inside of us, it is helpful for us to know what is going on inside of ourselves. When we identify our feelings specifically, we are able to learn how to respond and take care of those emotions more accurately.