HomePsychologyHow to Understand Your...

How to Understand Your Feelings Using an Emotion Wheel

An emotion wheel provides you with an excellent tool to help you understand and process your emotions and become more emotionally literate.

How and why you feel a certain way can be confusing and complicated. Emotions are a complex and not well-understood concept, even among psychologists and researchers.

Emotional literacy involves naming and communicating your emotions. People who are emotionally literate can often identify their own, and others’, emotions. They also tend to have a good sense of how each of their emotions interacts with each other and how experiences can influence them.

What is an emotion wheel? 

An emotion wheel is a type of visual aid that shows the complexity of emotions. It helps a person identify and work through their understanding of their or other people’s emotions.

One of the most famous examples is the Plutchik wheel that psychologist Robert Plutchik developed. On his wheel, he broke down eight core or primary emotions into opposite pairs. They include:

  • anger and fear
  • disgust and acceptance
  • joy and sadness
  • expectation and surprise

His theory suggests that these core emotions can become milder or intensify. Emotions listed closer to the outside of the wheel represent mild emotions. Emotions closer to the center represent more intense or stronger emotions.

Proximity also plays a role in understanding the Plutchik wheel. Emotions that are closer together share more similarities with each other than those that aren’t near each other.

Benefits of using an emotion wheel

  • improving emotional intelligence
  • help identify root causes of emotions
  • see how different emotions connect
  • find new ways to cope with emotions
infographic of Plutchiks wheel of emotion

How to use an emotion wheel

Emotion wheels are visual guides with no real start or endpoints. This means you can start where it makes sense to you. Some helpful tips for using the wheel include:

1. Identify the emotion closest to how you are feeling

Emotions closer to the center are more intense, core emotions are in the middle layer, and those furthest out are milder forms of emotions.

Between each spoke on the wheel are combined emotions. Try to find the emotion that best describes how you are feeling at the moment.

2. Try to figure out the trigger

Emotions often don’t just occur out of nowhere. Often, something triggers or causes you to feel the way you do. It may not be a simple, single event either. But other times, figuring out the trigger may be easy.

3. Analyze connections

You may notice that some emotions you identify can lead to other emotions. For example, if you’re in a healthy romantic relationship you may experience emotions, such as trust and joy.

READ MORE  How To Change Your Behaviors & Thoughts

This may lead to feelings of optimism, which falls between anticipation and joy on the emotion wheel.

4. Make changes or take other action

When you start to identify your emotions and triggers, you can start to figure out ways to take positive action. In the example of having a romantic partner, you may notice that you experience emotions connected with love because they make you feel safe.

But if you’ve been in unhealthy relationships in the past, this may cause you to worry about possible changes that can happen in the future of your relationship. Instead of avoiding the emotions you’re experiencing, it can help to honestly express how you feel with your partner when you’re ready.

In other words, you can use your acknowledgment of your emotions to help you find ways to cope and work through them.

Examples of using Plutchik’s emotion wheel

You can use the wheel to build similar combinations and explanations for feelings across all eight emotions.

For example, joy and anticipation are near each other on the wheel. A child may feel joy from the anticipation of a birthday celebration. They may feel optimistic about the presents they may receive, the people they will see, or the food they will eat.

Optimism is a combined emotion of joy and anticipation. But anticipation is also close to anger. This works or makes sense as well.

For example, you may feel annoyance (a milder form of anger) start to build in anticipation of an upcoming meeting with a co-worker you do not like or do not respect.

When the meeting arrives, you may find that you act aggressively toward your co-worker with terse responses, tense body language, or disengaging from actively participating.

Aggression is a combination of anticipation and anger.

Types of emotion wheels 

Though the Plutchik wheel may be one of the most well-known emotion wheels, there are others. Like the Plutchik wheel, they are visual aids to help you get a better understanding of how emotions connect so that you can improve your emotional intelligence.


The Geneva Wheel divides emotions into four sections or quadrants.

Emotions go in one of two categories: pleasant or unpleasant.

They further divide into how well you can control your emotions. High control are ones that you generally have a good amount of control over. Low control emotions are ones that you have a harder time controlling.

READ MORE  10 Frugal Living Tips To Live Through A Recession

For example, at the end of a large, successful project, you may feel pride, a pleasant emotion. But it borders unpleasant emotions and anger because it’s possible your boss did not recognize your hard work and refused to give you a promotion. You may feel anger and hurt pride.

These are both highly controllable emotions. You may feel pride, but you do not need to boast about your accomplishments to a co-worker. Similarly, you may feel anger toward your boss, but you can respond thoughtfully in a way that may help you gain recognition.

Another feature of the Geneva Wheel is a blank space in the middle. This represents general emotional numbness or emotions that are not listed on the wheel. This allows you to name and categorize how you’re feeling.

Junto wheel

The Junto wheel offers a large array of emotions to choose from in a relatively simple layout. Six emotions make up the core, color-coded wedges. They include:

  • anger
  • love
  • joy
  • surprise
  • sadness
  • fear

The further out from the core of each wedge are the more specific emotions. For example, jealousy stems from anger and could become resentful or envious.

The wheel allows you to start with a basic emotion and further explore what you may be actually feeling. You may describe your feelings as joy, but you may also be able to build on that further and identify feelings of optimism or hopefulness about a new opportunity.

You can also do the reverse. You may start with a well-defined emotion, such as feeling inferior and trace that back to a root feeling of fear.

Similar to the other wheels, you can use the exercise of finding your emotions to come up with better coping skills and responses to negative emotions.


An emotion wheel is a visual guide with no set start or end.

Emotion wheels can help you identify your emotions and help increase your emotional intelligence. You can use it to help figure out what may have caused your emotions and then ways that you may be able to handle them positively.

It may also serve as a good visual guide to help children recognize emotions. For more tips on working with helping children identify emotions, visit Psych Central’s resource page.

Though different wheels exist, they share similar qualities and can help you start to develop stronger emotional literacy as you start to name your emotions and trace their roots.

Most Popular


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Do You Feel Shame about Being Single?

If find yourself single, are you ok with that or distressed...

How To Change Your Behaviors & Thoughts

Do you feel that you are able to change ingrained patterns...

How To Breaking Bad Habits Using These 5 Steps

How To Breaking Bad Habits Using These 5 Steps. We all...

10 Frugal Living Tips To Live Through A Recession

10 Frugal Living Tips To Live Through A Recession. With high...

More from Author

Identifying 11 Indications of Cheating

Identifying 11 Indications of Cheating can be an incredibly traumatic experience,...

Top 4 Uncovering Urban Creativity on Canvas

Uncovering Urban Creativity on Canvas. Street art has evolved from an...

The 4 Most Powerful Language of 3D Artwork

The 4 most Powerful Language of 3D Artwork In the realm...

Unveiling the 4 Beauty of Abstract Art

Unveiling the 4 Beauty of Abstract Art is a fascinating and...

The 4 Role of Vibrant Hues in Artistic Expression

The 4 Role of Vibrant Hues in Artistic Expression (Color) is...

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship Through Effective Dialogue

How to Strengthen Your Relationship Through Effective Dialogue. Communication is the...

5 Tips for Balancing Work and Family Life

5 Tips for Balancing Work and Family Life. Parenthood is both...

5 Key Elements for a Healthy Marriage

5 Key Elements for a Healthy Marriage. Marriage is a beautiful...

Read Now

How To Change Your Behaviors & Thoughts

Do you feel that you are able to change ingrained patterns of behavior that you have had for a long time? If not, you’re not alone! Most people feel that behaviors (as well as thoughts) are difficult to change. And they are right. Behavior modification requires dedication, strength, and courage. Changing your...

Friendship Beyond Romance: The Importance of Cultivating Strong Platonic Bonds

While romantic relationships often take center stage, it is equally important to recognize and celebrate the significance of platonic friendships. These connections hold a unique place in our lives, offering unwavering support, companionship, and a deep bond that transcends romance. In this blog post, we delve into...

Unveiling the 4 Beauty of Abstract Art

Unveiling the 4 Beauty of Abstract Art is a fascinating and often misunderstood genre that challenges traditional notions of representation. With its focus on shapes, colors, and forms, abstract art encourages viewers to engage with their own interpretations and emotions. In this blog post, ''Unveiling the Beauty...

Top 4 Uncovering Urban Creativity on Canvas

Uncovering Urban Creativity on Canvas. Street art has evolved from an underground subculture to a globally recognized form of artistic expression. Found on city walls, alleyways, and public spaces, it brings creativity and vibrancy to urban landscapes. In this blog post, we plunge into the captivating world...

Building Meaningful Connections: Expert Dating Tips for Finding Long-lasting Love

In today's fast-paced and digital world, finding long-lasting love can often feel like a challenging task. However, with the right mindset and approach, building meaningful connections is still possible. If you're looking to find a loving and lasting relationship, here are some expert dating tips to help...

The Life Story of Johnnywriter As a Street Hawker

The practice of street hawking in Nigeria and other parts of Africa has become a necessity due to factors such as unemployment, poverty, and the need for affordable goods. Despite government efforts to control the practice, it has continued to thrive as a part of the informal...

The Upside of Divorce: Finding Growth and Renewal Amidst Heartbreak

Divorce is often seen as a painful and difficult process, filled with heartbreak and uncertainty. However, amidst the chaos and emotions, there can be unexpected silver linings. In this blog post, we will explore the positive aspects of divorce, focusing on the opportunities for personal growth and...

Your Chance to Be the Changemaker

It’s not every day a fellowship program changes lives. But that’s exactly what we see when our alumni set out into the world, eager and ready to make a difference. Pay It Forward Nojus Saad was an educated but fresh-faced 21-year-old when he came to the Internet Society in...

Internet shutdowns: Can we find solutions?

Internet shutdowns present intentional disruptions of the internet or of electronic communications, which can occur nationwide or in specific locations. They can be partial or in the form of total internet blackouts, blocking people from using the internet in its entirety. According to a research conducted by Shurfshark, 4.24...

Top 10 Things to Do in Dubai

Dubai positions at the highest priority on a rundown of the world’s must-visit goals. The city is a fortune trove for sightseers, consolidating the persona and history of the Arabian Desert with the shining civilities of a cutting edge city.  The top attractions in the Emirate are extraordinary...

14 Draining Signs You Should Stay Away From Someone

Have you ever had a gut feeling that someone isn’t right, but you can’t pinpoint why? If you’re questioning your instincts about someone, here are some signs that may confirm that you should stay away from someone. Maintaining relationships can be challenging, and it can be difficult to...

A Local’s Perspective on Life in Germany: The Pros, Cons, and Everything in Between.

It has now been close to five years that I have been living in Germany. The last five years have been extremely eventful. I have learned a new language, lived with Germans, made many friends, traveled within the country, celebrated many festivals, taught Yoga in a studio...