Understanding The Feelings Wheel


What is the Feelings Wheel?

Sometimes it’s difficult to describe how you’re feeling in the moment. This is why the Feelings Wheel is designed to help people learn, recognize and communicate their feelings.¹

The wheel is constructed of three different rings. The inner ring is labelled with names of primary feelings (mad, sad, scared, joyful, powerful, and peaceful) while the outer rings contain names of secondary feelings related to the primary ones.

The Feelings Wheel


Although there are bigger words or more intellectual language used within the wheel, you should use self-expressive words that are related to what you’re experiencing.

However, it can be an opportunity to expand your vocabulary and get to know words that may be more directed to other experiences as you grow up.

  • How strong is the feeling from 1-10?

If 1 is minimal and 10 is extreme, ask yourself to put how strong you are experiencing this particular feeling into a numerical value. Putting this feeling into a number can give yourself and others an idea of how serious this feeling is.

  • How long has the feeling lasted?

Think about how long this particular feeling has lasted. Is it recent? A couple of days? A couple of weeks? Narrowing down when this started can pinpoint possibly why you’ve been feeling this way whether it is a positive or negative feeling.

  • When was the last time you felt this way?

You could have already felt this way before, or it may be a brand new experience to you. Either way, noting if you’ve felt this way before can help you navigate how you previously responded to this feeling, or on the opposite side of the spectrum, how you can come up with a new way to deal with this feeling.

  • What thoughts are you having?

Take a few moments to pause and really ponder your thoughts. Allow yourself to let go and release.

Write them down on a piece of paper. If they are negative thoughts, crumble the paper and throw it away. This can help empty and renew your thinking process. If they are positive thoughts, put them somewhere you can see them daily. These little reminders can uplift your spirits when you’re feeling down.

  • What is happening in your life right now?

Reflect on what’s been going on in your life. Is there anything happening that can explain why you’ve been feeling a certain way? Talking to yourself or with a trusted adult about what’s going on can lead to some type of solution or at least comfort in why you’re feeling some type of way.

Want to understand more of the Feelings Wheel? Register for our free Recovery College courses, Confront the Discomfort and Rethinking Our Thoughts.

Each course will help you better focus, recognize, and react to different thoughts and feelings that are happening in your life.

¹Anas, B. (2017). Feelings Wheel That Helps You Better Describe Your Emotions. Simplemost. Retrieved July 21, 2021, from: https://www.simplemost.com/feeling-wheel-will-help-better-describe-emotions/

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