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Pinpointing Your Emotions

"If you can name it, you can tame it."

-Marc Brackett, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

When I first read this quote, it opened a world for me where precise words for emotions became important in processing tough things and then segued into describing good things, too. "Amused" or "hopeful" became better descriptors than "happy". When my job that I loved was eliminated, "insignificant" and "vulnerable" described how I was feeling much better than "angry". The feeling wheel is a good starting point for pinpointing your emotions (and one that I reference).

So, how can you use this feeling wheel?

  1. In a particular moment, use it to gauge what emotion you are feeling. For example, after you meet a friend for coffee, perhaps you are feeling joyful, content, or optimistic.

  2. Reflect on your day. You may have had a bad day at work and are feeling skeptical or overwhelmed.

  3. Explore deeper, more complicated, or long-term feelings. It took me a long time to realize that "insignificant" and "vulnerable" were actually how I was feeling when my job was eliminated. Once I named those emotions, though, I was able to tame them and acknowledge "Yes, this is exactly how I am feeling". And that was exactly what I needed to move on and let those feelings go.



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