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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Dewar

Understanding Your Emotions: The Emotion Volcano and The Feelings Wheel

The Impact of Misunderstood Emotions

From a young age, many of us are taught to suppress our emotions. Phrases like "Suck it up," "You're okay," "Boys don't cry," and "Toughen up!" have left us with a skewed perception of our feelings. We see our emotions as a sign of weakness or a nuisance that must be controlled. Consequently, we box them up, push them down, and pretend that everything is alright.

The Emotion Volcano

However, these feelings are energy orbs, and as Albert Einstein famously stated, "Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another." When we ignore or suppress these energy orbs, they don't disappear. Instead, they accumulate over time in what can be metaphorically referred to as our 'Emotion Volcano'.

A black and white photo of a volcano with steam rising out of it.

For years, we can stuff these energy orbs into the volcano, enabling us to appear stable and functional. However, this strategy is not sustainable. Eventually, the volcano fills up and needs to release the pent-up energy, which can lead to explosive emotional outbursts or chronic physical symptoms such as tension, inflammation, or conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Fibromyalgia.

The Feelings Wheel: A Tool for Emotional Literacy

So, how can we prevent our 'Emotion Volcano' from erupting? The answer lies in understanding and acknowledging our emotions. We need to re-learn how to approach our feelings, not as nuisances to be ignored but as essential parts of ourselves that need to be acknowledged and understood.

A picture of "the feeling wheel" showing how different emotions are linked together.

One helpful tool for enhancing our emotional literacy is the Feelings Wheel. This wheel aids in broadening our emotional vocabulary, allowing us to identify and name our feelings more accurately. By using this tool, we can start to connect with where our emotions manifest in our bodies and identify the associated sensations.

Building a Healthy Relationship with Emotions

Embracing our emotions requires a multi-step process. It involves building our emotional vocabulary, connecting with the physical manifestations of our emotions, and developing strategies for dealing with uncomfortable feelings.

By understanding and acknowledging our emotions, we can prevent our 'Emotion Volcano' from erupting unexpectedly. Instead, we can experience our emotions as they are: energy orbs that need space to exist and move. Emotions are not a sign of weakness but a source of power. The better we get at understanding and managing our feelings, the more we can be present in our daily lives, understand our triggers, and access areas within ourselves that need healing.

Remember that it's completely normal to feel discomfort when dealing with emotions. It's part of the process of growing and learning more about ourselves. By becoming comfortable with this discomfort, we're taking a crucial step toward leading a healthier and more emotionally balanced life.


References for Understanding Your Emotions: The Emotion Volcano and The Feelings Wheel


About Balance Psychological Services

Balance Psychological Services is a psychological private practice aimed toward healing, growth, and balance. Our mission is to ensure that every person who walks through our doors feels seen and accepted for exactly who they are, no matter the circumstances they are facing. With offices conveniently located in Stony Plain, Edmonton, and Beaumont, we are here and ready to help you find your balance. Book an appointment today.


Information provided through Balance Psychological Services' blog posts is meant for educational purposes only. This is NOT medical or mental health advice. If you are seeking mental health advice, please contact us directly at (587) 985-3132.


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