feelings circle chart

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 relationships is all about, according to Erica Chidi in her book, Nurture. We spied ‘The Feeling Circle’ in the pages of the new book — an invaluable tool for emotional communication across the board.

The Feelings Circle was originally developed by psychotherapist, Dr. Gloria Willcox to facilitate better verbalization of emotions by her clients. Erica is co-founder and CEO of LOOM, a well-being brand empowering women through sexual and reproductive health. Her book, Nurture is full of helpful emotional communication tools for us all.

How To Use 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.

Feeling the thing: When a feeling starts to arise, look at the wheel.

Get to the core feeling first: 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.

How do you feel? 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.

compare feelings: 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?
Get more emotional health tools in one of our favorite books, The Emotion Code HERE. 

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