Putting words to our feelings can be a struggle. Especially when those words are exchanged with someone we care about on issues packed with emotional complexity. Emotional complexity is what navigating pregnancy and motherhood are all about, according to Erica Chidi Cohen in her new book, Nurture. We spied ‘The Feeling Circle’ in the pages of the new book and thought it seemed like an invaluable tool for emotional communication across the board.
Erica is a doula and CEO of women’s health education center LOOM. Her new book, Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Early Motherhood, is a TCM-approved guide to all things mother and baby and this helpful emotional communication tool originally developed by Dr. Gloria Willcox is perfect proof…
The Feelings Circle
Using intellectual language—words that are not connected to your direct experience—can distance you from your emotions and make it more difficult to know what you are truly feeling. To avoid this, try using simpler, more self-expressive words (emotional language) to explain what you feel. The circle provides some more emotional words you can say in place of intellectual ones.
Here’s how it works: When a feeling starts to arise, look at the wheel, start with the inner-most wheel and move outward, moving from the core feelings toward any associated feelings that might be coming up for you. Alternatively if a core emotion is not clear, you can move from the outside in, identifying the associated feeling first and then making your way toward the core emotion. Don’t necessarily “hunt” for the right word. Rather, as you look, notice which words resonate with you.
Another way to use the chart is to compare how you’re feeling today with how you felt earlier today or even yesterday. For example: I’m feeling _________ today, but yesterday I felt _______ and _________. Typically you might find that two or even four different emotions apply.
What are your techniques for effective emotional communication?
Learn more about Erica and LOOM here.