Unabashed Emotions

Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions in Relationships: Meaning, Purpose, Benefits

By unabashedemotions


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Table of Contents

What Is the Wheel of Emotions?

The Wheel of Emotions is a pictorial representation using colors in the wheel to depict different emotions and their inter-relations. It is used as a teaching tool to help people understand the different ways they feel and how those feelings can impact their mood, health, and overall happiness.

This resource can help you learn how to recognize and express your feelings in a healthy way. The wheel is reflects eight primary emotions: joy, fear, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise, trust, and anticipation. Each emotion is depicted by a different color on the wheel. 

Plutchik’s Emotion Wheel- Significance & Purpose

In the 1950s and 1960s, psychotherapist and psychologist Robert Plutchik developed a model of human emotions based on eight basic emotions: love, hate, anger, joy, sadness, fear, embarrassment, and anticipation. 

These emotions can be experienced by people of all cultures and backgrounds, and he argued that we all have a basic emotional capacity to understand and experience these emotions (Ekman & Plutchik, 2004). 

Plutchik’s model of emotion identifies a core set of eight primary emotions, which are divided into two groups – those that activate the sympathetic nervous system and those that activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Each emotion has certain physiological and psychological responses associated with it.

– Arousal responses

There are four main arousal responses associated with the eight primary emotions: Fight/Flight, Freeze/Thaw, Pain, or Seek Help. Each of these responses has its own specific physiological and psychological components, which are influenced by the situation in which we are feeling the emotion. 

For example, when someone is experiencing anger, they may become physically tense, their heart rate may increase, and their blood pressure may increase; when they are experiencing sadness, their heart rate may decrease, and they may begin to weep. The table below describes the different components of the arousal response associated with each emotion.

– Psychological components

The psychological components of emotion are the way in which a person interprets and responds to the emotion they are experiencing. 

When we experience an emotion, we automatically categorize it according to a specific pattern of behavior- for example, anger may be described as a negative emotion, and therefore, the behavioral pattern that is associated with it is avoidance – i.e., avoiding the cause of the emotion. 

To a certain extent, this is influenced by the situation in which we are feeling the emotion as well as previous experiences we have had with that particular emotion. When you are experiencing an emotion, it is important to be aware of your body language and tone of voice to ensure that you are responding appropriately to the emotion you are feeling. 

It is also important to try to recognize the emotion you are feeling rather than labeling it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. 

As Russell A. Barkley (1990) explains,

“Being able to label our emotional response is important in developing an understanding of why we feel the way we do….labeling allows us to begin to understand the factors that influence how we feel about a particular experience”. 

Another way to understand the psychological components of emotion is by examining how other people react to it. For example, when someone is feeling angry, they are likely to respond by shouting or raising their voice in an attempt to get the other person’s attention. 

Similarly, if someone is feeling sad they will withdraw from the people around them and curl up in a ball in an effort to hide their feelings. It is important to remember that the way we respond to an emotional experience is often influenced by past experience and patterns which have been built up over the years.

How to use a Wheel of Emotions

Everybody experiences different emotions, and it can be tough to know how to express them. Fortunately, there is a wheel of emotions or feelings wheel that can help you figure out the right way to express your feelings. 

The wheel of emotions is a great way to find the emotion that is most appropriate for your situation. It allows you to choose the most appropriate emotion for the occasion and then helps you express the feeling. 

Using this tool can help ease the anxiety that comes with expressing your emotions and improve your relationships.

The first step in using the wheel of emotions is to determine the emotion you are experiencing. You can use the wheel to help you determine the appropriate emotion or it can help you identify which of the emotions you feel is appropriate to convey in a given situation. 

Looking at the examples of each emotion on the wheel can also help you identify the one you are most familiar with or the one that you identify with the most.

– Look at the four quadrants and find the one that is most similar to the way you are feeling (e.g. if you are angry, you would choose the anger quadrant).

– Next, examine the words in the top left square and find the one that best describes your emotion (e.g. if you are angry, the word would be “angry”).

– Finally, find the appropriate statement in the top right square and use it as a template for your response (e.g. if you are angry, the statement would be “I feel angry.”) 

Use this template as the starting point for your response and tailor it to make it your own. It is important to express yourself in a way that feels right to you instead of trying to follow a specific formula.

Plutchik’s Emotion Wheel in relationships: 8 benefits

There are many benefits to using Plutchik’s Emotion Wheel in relationships.

1. Better communication

Understanding one another’s emotions is key to effective communication. By identifying a person’s emotions, you can help resolve conflicts, build better communication system and create a more harmonious atmosphere.

2. Increased understanding

Seeing the world through your partner’s eyes enables you to better understand their motivations and priorities. It can also help you to see the things they do that you appreciate or criticize them about in a new light.

3. Improved intimacy

Showing your vulnerability to your partner can increase trust and intimacy. It also helps you to bond more closely with each other and learn more about each others’ inner lives.

4. Increased empathy

It’s important to develop empathy for your partner’s perspective so that you understand how they are feeling and why they may be behaving a certain way. This will also help you to anticipate how they may react to certain situations.

5. Enhanced sexual satisfaction

Greater intimacy can help you to connect on a physical and emotional level, which can enhance your sexual relationship. You can stimulate each other in new ways and improve your connection with your partner.

6. Improved health

When you and your partner are on the same page and understand each other’s needs, it can reduce stress and strengthen your bond. It can also make both of you feel happier and more satisfied.

7. Ability to express yourself openly and honestly

Being able to express your feelings and opinions without fear of being judged or criticized is important for healthy relationships. Using tools like Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions can help you to do this in a healthy way.

8. Decreased reaction to triggers

Understanding what triggers your partner’s negative emotions can be extremely helpful when it comes to managing your relationship effectively. Identifying the sources of conflict and understanding your partner’s needs can also enable you to respond more effectively when these situations arise.

Your partner may have a feeling of embarrassment, anger, sadness, anxiety, or fear when they experience an emotion like depression, loneliness, shame, guilt or grief. It may also be difficult for them to talk about these feelings or deal with them on their own. By showing understanding and compassion, you can help relieve some of their emotional burdens and help them to move forward in a more positive direction. 

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