Emotion Wheel

Emotion Wheel

Some of you got to this week's creative prompt and thought, "Mmmmm...what now?"  Don't worry, you're not alone.  I had never heard of an emotion wheel until I was in grad school to become a therapist, and I was doing a LOT of reading on the side about the complexity of emotions.  If you'd like to see a much more formal wheel, just search for "Robert Plutchik," and you'll find the real theory behind visual aids like this to evaluate our emotions.  The one I've drawn here was a very top-of-the-mind, imperfect version and isn't necessarily a great tool for showing opposite pairings the way Plutchik's diagram is, but it was still a helpful exercise for me.  I have been trying this year to really battle my own perfectionism, which is deep-seated and results in a UNIVERSE of procrastination.

I had often felt as a young person that when others got angry, I got sad/angry.  My anger never failed to end with tears.  Breaking down the big feelings categories into how they manifest as subtle emotions and feelings or expressions can show how we can feel "hopeless," but it can stem from sadness, from fear, from anger, or even some other big emotional category we haven't yet identified.  

Revisiting ideas like can be a valuable exercise.  Rather than just printing out one of many dozens of emotion wheels you can find online, I encourage you to draw your own, and brainstorm the breakdown of how SADNESS or JOY or FEAR or LOVE can feel on a smaller, instant level.  If you get stumped, use a thesaurus to see what ideas it loosens in your mind. 

Your wheel doesn't need to look ANYTHING like my wheel.  Again, this took maybe 30 minutes of my time, and it's highly imperfect.  Don't be afraid to repeat words from one section to another.  Don't get caught up feeling embarrassed or ashamed as you move through the different emotions on the page.  It can be surprising how just writing a word like "ashamed" can trigger some dreadful feelings within.  

That said, perhaps start and end on big categories like JOY or LOVE or PEACE or whatever you decide are some positive big emotions for you.  That way you can leave the exercise with those stirred feelings freshest on your palate.


Aug 15, 2022

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