The Feeling Wheel & The Importance of Reconnecting To Your Feelings
The pandemic has caused too many mental health issues to count. If you’re feeling completely stressed out during this time, more than ever, read on about The Feeling Wheel and how connecting to your feelings can be a way to help you reduce anxiety.
The pressures of being a woman and mother in today’s society can be overwhelming. Let’s start with the often unspoken expectations that we are to be the designated cook, chauffeur, cleaner, event planner, and all things concerning taking care of the inside of the house. Is this a sexist and outdated point of view? In my opinion, yes, it is. Are many women holding themselves or being held to these unrealistic and unfair expectations while trying to accomplish all these tasks on their own? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, as well.
Now, let’s up the ante and add to that exhausting list the fact that many women are working full-time jobs outside the home. This is not to say that being a stay-at-home mom is less demanding. It is not. It has its own unique challenges. However, for women who have decided to work outside the home due to their own choice or financial obligations, being forced to now work at home because of the pandemic is wreaking havoc on many women’s mental health, and understandably so. The pandemic, in general, is causing physical and emotional exhaustion because roles have been forced on us we wouldn’t have chosen ourselves.
Two words that sum up the feelings many women are experiencing right now are…overwhelm and exhaustion
And yet, because the things on our plate won’t get done unless we do it, we trudge on, ignore our feelings, and work like maniacs to make sure everyone is taken care of. Everyone but ourselves.
What this is causing is stress. This stress then builds up to the point where feelings of depression and anxiety just can’t be ignored anymore. This is the point where clients reach out for help. They want the stress to go away.
The question for me then becomes, how can you help me feel less stressed? One of the answers is…
Let’s work on reconnecting you to YOUR feelings
This, my friend, is considered one form of self-care. It’s not selfish. It’s a necessity in order for you to be the best version of yourself. After all, you need to replenish your water pitcher so you can continue filling everyone else’s cup, right? Of course. So, if you’re labeling self-care as selfish, I kindly and lovingly ask that you stop that thought right now and reframe it. It’s simply an act that provides you the nourishment and capacity to help yourself so you can serve others. It’s like going to the gas station to fill up your tank. Yes, it takes time, but our vehicles can’t run on air. We can’t run on an emotionally empty tank either.
As easy as reconnecting to your feelings may seem, this can be a challenge for many. Why? Because along the path of womanhood and motherhood, we can get lost and lose touch with who we are as individuals. We become so focused on the tasks and roles related to our jobs, our own and other’s expectations, being the best mother ever, and being there for everyone else, that we ignore our feelings, our needs, and our desires. Once we reach the point that things are out of control and we’re stressed beyond belief, we don’t even have the awareness to realize we’ve neglected ourselves and lost touch with being in tune with our feelings. To read about getting lost in motherhood, read my post about this topic here: https://lesliedegraaf.com/getting-lost-in-motherhood/
Feelings Are Like Thorns
Rather than casting your feelings aside, moving on, ignoring them and hoping they will go away, or pushing them down so far that you hope they’ll never resurface, I challenge you to notice them. Noticing them and placing value on them is very important. Do you know why?
Because feelings are like thorns.
Feelings, although they can’t be seen, are like thorns because they cause pain if not removed. If you have a thorn, the logical thing to do is pull it out. Once it’s out, the pain subsides. Feelings are energy. If the energy is bottled up and not processed, it can cause pain, too, just like a thorn.
The Feelings Wheel
To help clients reconnect to their feelings, I often share The Feeling Wheel developed by Dr. Gloria Wilcox. Below is a free copy provided by https://www.gottman.com/. In the middle are the six core feelings. Branching off from each one are more nuanced feelings associated with the core feeling. This feeling wheel can be used in different ways. One way, for example, would be to look at and identify a feeling you’ve been experiencing recently. Perhaps you have been in a really angry mood lately. Take a look at the feelings that fall outside of that main emotion. Could it be you feel hurt because someone has been unkind to you?
Identifying your feelings is the first step to reconnecting to yourself. Next, you need to become an investigator and think about the why. Spend some time each day to incorporate self-care by getting clear on how you feel. It’s an important step in reconnecting and helping to decrease anxiety.
For more information on The Feeling Wheel, check out this helpful article that explains the different ways it can be used.
As always, take care of yourself, and feel free to reach out to me should you feel like you need assistance on your journey. My number is 225-570-1331.