Do you know the number of emotions a person can experience? It's approximately thirty-four thousand!
Well, that's a significant number indeed, and navigating such turbulent water of feelings without getting lost is a difficult feat. It feels especially true when you are going through something challenging or new in life. You might find it challenging to find out precisely what you are feeling and even more challenging to understand your appropriate reactions to the situation.
So, how would one find their way through such an overwhelming tide of emotions? Dr Robert Plutchik, an American psychologist, suggested that the answer lies in the 'emotion wheel.'
What Is An Emotion Wheel?
As per Dr Plutchik, eight primary emotions are serving as the foundation for all other feelings. These eight emotions are anticipation, surprise, anger, fear, disgust, acceptance, sadness, and joy. Though understanding thirty-four thousand distinct emotions is complex, the best you can do is to recognise the primary emotions and work depending on that.
The emotions wheel is the psychological tool that aids individuals in recognising and verbalising complicated emotions. This wheel recognises the eight primary human emotions and tiers of more nuanced and related versions of the primary emotions. These are basic emotions all humans are born with that you have wired in your brains.
According to Dr Plutchik's theory, these eight basic emotions can intensify or get milder. The human mind can also combine these feelings to produce any emotional state. Along the outer edges of the same emotion wheel, you will find low-intensity emotions like boredom, distraction, acceptance, and more. When you move toward the centre, the emotion wheel dawns a deeper colour, and the milder emotions turn into the basic emotions.
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Tips for Using the Emotion Wheel to Your Advantage
Now, there is no right or wrong way to use this emotional wheel. However, there are a few tips that can help you get started:
Point Out The Core Emotion:
You might get a feeling that you are finding it hard to put into words. Find something close to what you might be feeling on the emotion wheel, and then, you can narrow down the distinct nuances and layers of the feeling.
So, you will find the following three layers on colour-coordinated spokes:
- Outer edges: You will notice low-intensity emotions like boredom, distraction, acceptance, and so on.
- Centre: Colour deepens, and the milder emotions become the basic emotions: disgust, surprise, trust, and so on.
- Inner-Center circle: The most intense displays of emotions exist at the centre circle, i.e., loathing, amazement, admiration, and more.
- Between every coloured spoke: Mixed emotions exist here; for instance, a combination of disgust and anger gives rise to contempt.
Suppose you have a vague sense of discontent, and you look at the wheel. The two emotions that will resonate the closest to this are apprehension and boredom.
Outline The Probable Causes:
You have a basic idea about what you are feeling, and that needs to serve as a stepping stone to give you a deeper understanding of your emotions.
To understand emotions, accept that they are never isolated occurrences but rather a part of an order of events. You might not realise it right away, but every emotion starts somewhere. Many people have the habit of pushing down emotions, whereas tracing them through the order is more helpful to their mental health.
So, after you name the emotion, retrace your steps back to the original trigger. It will take some time, but you need to be patient.
Taking up the earlier example: maybe you don't have any obligations right now, and you will feel restless and bored. You are finding it difficult to focus on anything. Now, you know what caused this mood, but you don't want to think about it. Maybe your partner had sent a text in the morning saying you guys need to talk. Or, maybe your kid had told you he had messed up something.
Start Making Connections:
Your apprehension stems from the fact that you don't know what your partner will say or your kid did. There were no issues until this morning, and they didn't show signs of concerning behaviour.
At this stage, letting yourself think more about the situation will bring in other emotions:
- Worrying about a difficult conversation.
- Irritation that they said this in the morning and left you worried the entire day.
- Sadness about a potential worst-case situation.
These emotions stem from the love you have for your partner and your kid. Now, love is the combination of trust and acceptance and serenity and joy. Of course, you trust your partner and kid even if their current behavior is annoying you.
Related read: Know How Emotions Have An Impact On Your Body
Taking Action on Your Emotions:
The emotions will show in your speech, body language, and behaviour because feelings usually prompt some kind of action. Some of the standard actions, such as lashing out or blocking your emotions, might not be that helpful. You need to focus on actions that help you deal with the emotions and address the triggers.
You can use the emotion wheel again to practice mindfulness and recognise the emotions that make it easier to process your feelings productively. You are not trying to make your emotions go away in this manner but instead finding ways to deal with them positively.
So, accept that you will not get any answers from your partner or kid until later that day. You will find that acceptance sits right opposite to boredom on that wheel. Also, the time you take to explore your emotions will start easing your concerns and make you calmer. There are all kinds of mood wheels made not only by Plutchik but also by Geneva, Junto, etc. Essentially, all types of emotion wheels aim to help you deal with your emotions more effectively.
Learn to let go of the helpless and hopeless feeling and stamp out self-doubt, grief, confusions, and judgments by bringing your attention to the present moment. Perform mindful practices with our emotional therapists on The Wellness Corner app, let them help you sail through emotional changes, and be there with you in your transformation journey for good.