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How to Use the Wheel of Emotions for Maximum Benefits

by BetterSleep
Aug 4 • 3 min read

The wheel of emotions is a tool for identifying feelings and breaking down complex emotional states to make them easier to understand. Everyone can benefit from the greater emotional literacy that comes with using these tools. Bringing awareness to emotional health can help us regain control of how we feel, react, act, and interact with others.

What is the Wheel of Emotions?

A wheel of emotions is a visual representation of the range of base human feelings. One of the most popular is known as Plutchik’s model. Psychologist Robert Plutchik created his model based on what he describes as the eight core human emotions:

  • Sadness
  • Joy
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Anticipation
  • Surprise
  • Disgust
  • Acceptance

The wheel shows how these emotions oppose each other and are experienced to varying degrees, from mild to intense. For instance, joy and grief lie opposite each other on the wheel. Emotions can also be described more intensely as ecstasy and grief or more mild emotions like serenity and pensiveness.

The wheel also illustrates how the core emotions combine to produce other feelings. For example, when you feel sadness along with disgust, you may experience a sense of remorse. Joy and anticipation combine to create optimism.

Wheel of emotions

How to Use the Wheel of Emotions

Human emotions are complicated. People use the wheel to make emotional states easier to understand. At any time, you can look at the wheel to more easily identify how you’re feeling. If you feel sad, look at that area of the wheel and narrow down your current state to better understand it. Maybe you feel pensive and apprehensive.

Narrowing down your feelings to a couple of words can help you identify what’s causing them. Retrace the emotions back to their origins. For instance, maybe you’re worried about an upcoming encounter with a difficult co-worker.

Once you’ve identified the source of your emotions, you can think about them more critically and take action. Perhaps preparing for the meeting with a co-worker will help you face it more confidently. Talking to your partner about it may provide some relief from apprehension.

Benefits of the Wheel of Emotions

There are great reasons to use an emotion wheel, either Plutchik’s or another model. Most people struggle to describe and name their feelings when they are experiencing them, making it tough to identify their emotional state. One of the main benefits of using the wheel is learning a vocabulary for emotions that helps you identify and describe how you’re feeling.

Being able to identify your emotional state is good for mental health. This makes you more aware of how you feel, why you feel that way, and actions you can take to change your state of mind. For instance, if stress and worry keep you up at night, honing in on the more complicated feelings and their triggers will help you relax and feel more in control.

Greater emotional awareness also helps you improve relationships, equipping you for better interactions with your loved ones, with friends, and even with co-workers and acquaintances.

The next time you are experiencing intense emotions, try using any wheel of emotions that works for you. Greater emotional awareness leads to better mental health, less stress and worry, and even better sleep and other aspects of physical health.

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