The Emotion Wheel
Our thoughts affect our physiology, and our physiology affects our thoughts. You may have experienced this; when you're physically tired it is hard to think straight. Equally, when you have been using your brain all day (thinking), you can feel physically tired.
How easily can you trace the emotions that you are feeling? Do you know exactly WHAT emotion you are feeling? Do you know WHERE the emotion has come from and HOW it was triggered?
Considering all emotions are triggered by either LOVE or FEAR you would think it would be easy to identify what you are experiencing at any given moment, however, if the Inner Critic is in the driver's seat, it may be much harder then you think.
The Inner Critic's goal is to keep you focused outside yourself, overthinking and searching for all the external reasons for why you are feeling the way you are feeling. Overthinking, worrying and anxiety are all exhausting activities! It's a valuable practice to check in with yourself and see just how much of your energy is being depleted by a negative inner dialogue triggering unsettling and unnecessary emotions.
When dealing with ups and downs of the day to day or, be it deeper challenges such as physical illness, depression or anxiety, it is very easy to detach from what you are feeling, or experience the exact opposite, and feel totally consumed by your feelings. Either way, tracing, naming and releasing the emotions is what frees you from their hold.
In the centre of the emotion wheel, the seven most easy to identify feelings are named:
Just acknowledging that you are feeling a negative emotion such as anger and stopping there, feeds the emotion and the Inner Critic which reinforces feelings of anger. Emotions can take on many faces. Let's take anger as an example:
You can be angry because you feel let down and resentful towards the situation you find yourself in.
You can feel angry because you are feeling frustrated by your circumstances which can trigger you to feel annoyance with the people around you.
You can feel angry because you feel distant and your reaction is to be withdrawn around others.
Do you see how in each instance the main emotion identified is anger, yet the cause for feeling angry is different. When we take the time to examine our emotions without judgment, we can better understand why we are experiencing what we are experiencing in the present moment. This awareness pulls you out of the illusion of the Inner Critic, that state where you are replaying your past wounds or anxiously hatching a plan to manipulate a future outcome. Doing this keeps you anywhere other than the present moment.
Calling on your Inner Witness to observe without judgment is what draws you into the present moment and releases you from the illusions of the Inner Critic. Tracing the cause of the emotion you are experiencing, naming it and releasing it is the most effective way to let go of what you are feeling, giving over to the Inner Witness who gently and lovingly redirects you back to your True Self.
You do not have to be at the EFFECT of the fear-based patterns, beliefs and behaviours of the Inner Critic. You can choose to be the CAUSE of your experience and create it to be exactly as you choose, by allowing your Inner Witness to guide you to your True Self.
How to use the emotion wheel.
If you are experiencing any ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘unpleasant’ emotions, you have been pulled out of your True Self, and the Inner Critic is in the driver's seat again. When you find yourself in this space it's time to pause.
1. STOP! Acknowledge that you're not feeling joy and peace at this moment and that, without judgment, you're going to investigate.
2. What am I feeling in this moment? (Call on your Inner Witness).
3. If you can't trace what you are feeling - get out the emotion wheel.
4. Review the wheel and find the main emotion you are experiencing, (the big feeling), then move outward, following the colour block to the next level of the pie, and the next to see if any of the emotions listed are relevant to what you are experiencing.
5. Through the simple act of naming the emotions contributing to what you are experiencing in that moment, you are moving from the Inner Critic into the consciousness of the Inner Witness and it is defused. This better equips you to ‘let it go’ and to be lovingly and gently guided back to the space of self-love in the comfort of your True Self.
It may seem odd to have to stop and think about what emotion you are really feeling, however, if your mind has been trained for decades by the Inner Critic to keep you in a state of illusion, dwelling in your past wound or manipulating a future outcome, it takes the non-judgmental awareness of the Inner Witness to get us back in touch with what we are experiencing at any given moment and move past it back to a state of Peace and Joy.