When you’re tired, you sleep. When you’re hungry, you eat. When your fingers and toes get pruny and wrinkled from being in the water, you get you out of the pool.

While it’s often easy to change certain situations and circumstances by taking an obvious action, it may be a bit tougher to change how you feel. Feelings can be a scary thing, which is why so many people stuff them down or run from them. Neither strategy is a long-term solution, or much of a solution at all.

The problem with stuff and run

When you stuff your feelings, they can eventually become so over-packed that they erupt. You’ll then lash out at people who don’t deserve it and scare the hell out of your dogs.

When you try to escape your feelings, especially if you use alcohol to do so like I did, you can end up bloated, incoherent and devoid of all happiness and hope.

You can’t stuff. You can’t run. You can’t hide. So what do you do? Yep. You actually have to feel the things, sitting through them as they do their thing.

Although sitting through feelings is a healthy way to deal with them, you don’t have to sit and wallow in them for days on end. You can change how you feel by taking action. What action do you take? The handy dandy Feelings Wheel can tell you.

feelings wheel printable

What’s a Feelings Wheel?

The Feelings Wheel is a chart that showcases a variety of feelings, along with subsets of those feeling and the opposite of those feelings.

For instance, let’s say you’re feeling sad. Find sadness on the wheel, and you’ll see hurt, grief and depressed are part of sadness. This lets you more clearly identify what mode of sadness may be afflicting you so you can pinpoint the cause.

You’ll also see that joy is directly opposite of sadness on the wheel, indicating you could take action that brings joy to help alleviate the sadness. Joy is associated with feelings of being ecstatic and grateful, which gives you an even better idea of what action to take to counterbalance the sadness.

The Feelings Wheel was developed by Dr. Gloria Willcox, and you can find multiple variations. Since charts with straight lines and neat writing often freak me out, I came up with the Rynski version of the Feelings Wheel, which is a shade more artistic.

Feelings and human needs

You’ll also notice that one side of the wheel is stocked with anger, disgust, fear, sadness and all those other non-fun feelings most of us try to avoid, while the other side lists feelings we enjoy. The non-fun side of the wheel features feelings that arise when our human needs are not being met. The enjoyable feelings come when they are.

Those needs were outlined in a previous post with the Human Needs Monster, and my version of the Feelings Wheel lists the needs as spider legs on a spider named Gladys. The Gladys Index of Human Needs reminds us they are:

  • Acceptance
  • Affection
  • Appreciation
  • Approval
  • Attention
  • Comfort
  • Encouragement
  • Respect
  • Security
  • Support

The key to feeling fantastic goes right back to having our human needs met, and you can select which need you may be lacking based on what you’re feeling. Take action to fulfill that need, and the non-fun feelings may be more prone to dissipate quickly.

I keep a framed copy of the Rynski Feelings Wheel in full view daily, so I can refer to it when I feel something is amiss. It’s been such a hit so far with people I’ve shared it with, that I’d love to share it with you, too.

Click here for your very own printable, frame-ready download of the Rynski Feelings Wheel – and enjoy!

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