By Gabriella Wiechman
To give you an idea of how to use the emotion wheel, I am going to walk you through my process. When I am noticing myself getting overwhelmed with emotions or confused as to what I am feeling, the first thing I always try to do (but sometimes forget) is to sit in God’s presence. For me this looks like turning on worship music with the volume all the way up, putting away my phone and any other devices, and turning off the lights.
Sometimes I just sit or lie down, and other times I’m jumping around worshipping; there is no right or wrong way to sit with Jesus. I like to listen to music because it helps me drown out other distractions and focus on Jesus and what He is telling me.
Once I have soaked in Christ’s presence for a little while, I then try to notice what my body has been doing during the day. Am I relaxed, or have my muscles been tense? Have I been short tempered, or have small things not bothered me? Things like that help me notice which of the broader six emotions I am feeling. Most people already have experience naming these broad emotions, so you might find it easy to pick one, two, or even three you are feeling right now.
From there it becomes a bit more personal and complicated because there are so many emotions we could be feeling, and not just one at a time. So this is the part where it is so important to have Jesus in the conversation (just like every other part), because through Christ I find myself being made more aware of what it is I’m feeling.
For me, I usually hear God’s voice in my mind very clearly, and maybe you do too! That often is what helps me understand the deeper and more complex emotions I’m feeling, but sometimes God’s voice seems distant and hard to hear, and that’s okay!
When I am having trouble hearing God’s voice in the midst of my emotions, or my mind is so loud I can’t seem to focus, it is helpful to me to just look at a list of emotions. I go through the list and read an emotion word and think about what it means and if that sounds like what I’m feeling, just like you might do if you are hungry and want a snack—you might go and look at your options. It’s just the same with emotions. There might not be a list of all the emotions you could ever feel, but that’s what the emotions wheel is for: take a look at your options and see if any of them seem like what you are feeling.
Then, once I figure out the emotion (or usually, emotions) I am feeling, I take it to God. I ask God to comfort me if I’m afraid, or celebrate with me if I’m excited. No matter what emotion you are feeling, your Heavenly Father will always want to know about it and talk to you about it.
I invite you to take a look at the emotions wheel and become familiar with at least the six general emotions so that the next time you are confused or overwhelmed with your feelings, you are able to use this tool to help you distinguish what you are feeling. Then invite Jesus into the very specific experience of your very specific emotions. He’ll be glad to meet you there!
This blog is from the introduction to The Emotional Devotional: Following Jesus in Every Emotion, a book written and illustrated by teenage girls for teenage girls.