February focus: Expanding emotional self awareness

So far during February we have started to look at how we can develop our emotional self awareness, covering what emotions are, how to spot and name them, and observe them with kindness and distance. We took a deeper look at the primary universal emotions: sadness, happiness, surprise, disgust, fear, and anger.

Emotions influence our health, work performance, decision-making skills, motivation and overall wellbeing, so it’s helpful to understand and manage them. You can do this by:

– Learning to notice your emotions
– Being curious and patient with your emotions
Talking about them with others
– Learning to accept having different emotions
– Choosing how to respond to your emotions

A vocabulary to share your emotions

Talking about your emotions with others can be a daunting step but having a vocabulary to describe what you’re experiencing can make it more accessible. When you share your emotions with others, you not only create an environment of trust and openness, you also hear your own words out loud which can actually help with processing you experience.

There are a variety of tools available that can help you widen your vocabulary beyond the six primary universal emotions that we’ve already explored.

Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions

Developed by American psychologist Dr. Robert Plutchik, the Wheels of Emotions illustrates the primary emotions (anger, joy, fear etc) and variations in their intensity (boredom – disgust – loathing). It also suggests how emotions combine to create others e.g. joy + trust = optimism.

Geneva Emotion Wheel

The Geneva Emotion Wheel uses a wider base of 20 emotions (including pride and shame) and are arranged on two axes – how pleasant the emotion is and how much control the individual has over the situation and its outcomes. This model was developed at the University of Geneva to create positive consumer experiences.

The Feelings Wheel

Created by Australian pastor Geoffrey Roberts and designed by Gloria Wilcox, this wheel shows three tiers of emotions with the primary ones at the centre. It’s not research-backed but is a useful tool for helping people identify their emotions.

How to use the wheels

On a basic level you can use the wheels in any way that’s useful to you. It’s a starting point to help you name your emotion and get on the path to kindly acceptance and emotion management / regulation. And it’s a helpful way to convey how you’re feeling to others. The ability to recognize your own emotions and mood, to understand your thoughts about your emotions, and to know how those thoughts connect with your behaviour are the building blocks of self-awareness.

And this process is also a stepping stone to creating social awareness, and reading other people. Social awareness is a superpower, especially in the workplace, and one of the key capabilities that helps leaders build effective and engaged teams, as well as healthy workplace relationships.

Daily Practice: Philanthropy

Bake something and leave it on a friend’s doorstep.

It’s National Random Acts of Kindness day on February 17th. Show your love for others by leaving them a restriction-compliant sweet treat. If you’re not a baker, you could grab something from a local bakery. Or choose another act of kindness!

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