It is a matter of fact that how you practice a skill is how you perform. One of the best ways to improve anything is to go beyond your comfort level. When you let your brain operate in autopilot we all tend not to challenge the things we do to communicate and often wonder why we are disappointed. We can live a functional life and even be fairly happy but miss learning how to feel and express our most personal feelings and this robs families and communities of quality connection and the ability to care for each other.
In any skill, that is when you start to see improvements. It is true for physical, mental and emotional skills. Your business depends on what you do on a regular basis, how you practice. Your fitness depends on your practice. And your relationships are a matter of practice. All of these things are critical to growing personally and as a community.
Community looks different today than it ever has before. For the first time in history we literally can build a community around us, even if that means connecting with people all over the world.
The Feeling Wheel 4.0 is a much-needed tool to build community, strengthening our ability to solve the personal and worldwide problem. It takes practice to use the Feeling Wheel 4.0, and it requires that you pay attention to your feelings. Marla and I have found that it is the best practice for all communication. It is especially helpful in difficult situations. This is the first of a three-part blog on how to engage in a practice that will boost your performance in every area of your life.
We first encountered a feeling wheel in 1995 as part of the domestic violence facilitator and coach training we received from Life Skills International. It was a “dittoed copy,” and it was labeled “anonymous.” We updated that wheel and added the hub with more core feelings, later we added the color, and finally the copyright was certified in 2010. We are nearly ready to put out the 5.0 version.
For me, this concept was a little surprising and I count that as a helpful bonus because it shocked me into a new awareness. This idea is not new to most people, and because it's not new we fail to challenge our old habits. I had trouble in my family life because I kept doing the things that were getting me positive “feedback” at the cost of being honest about my own feelings. Learning how to feel and express using this process saved my life.
Most people we encounter have a difficult time naming more than a couple feelings that they have had in the last few days. There are at least three different emotions, or feelings, being felt at the same time, and they change with every situation. Try it yourself. Can you name ten feelings you have felt in the last 72 hours? The Feeling Wheel 4.0 will help. By learning to name your feelings and express them you begin a whole new way of communicating effectively and simply.
Our culture has gone through an incredible shift in just the last eighty years. The connection to a core community that used to last a lifetime and included most of your blood relatives shifted first to the nuclear family. This birthed suburbia and a shift towards much larger cities and a cultural revolution. This by itself was a major departure from the agrarian communities that were the standard for about ninety-percent of all the humans in the history of our planet before the 1940s. Children that grow up in a densely populated area are far more likely to live single than their parents did. And we have now entered the information age, where we are all focused on our individual screens. The dawning of the age of the digital narcissist.
There is currently a lack of available extended family to help us learn a shared language of core feeling expression, allowing us to be accountable, respecting our own feelings and the feelings of others. As it is, the golden rules of safe and fair community have been forgotten, and while dysfunction affected everyone we are now more likely to gripe about petty things to people other than the person who is bothering us. This is triangulation, and it is creating a more hostile social environment. And when we can now hide behind our computer screens while we lash out at people whom we don’t like. So the problem actually becomes more toxic, and entire community systems are hurt, and thrown off balance so that caring for each other has become more costly and less effective.
And we now live in a world community that needs us to show up with clear and compassionate communication to defuse the irrational tensions that are crippling sustainability for us all.
This brings us to what we have experienced with our Feeling Wheel 4.0. How does it build communities that heal with each other? We must learn to feel and to connect in genuine ways so we can develop safety with each other and support each other. There is a foundation for success, and it is simple: letting your feelings be real and the feelings of those around you to be real, you don’t have to agree with how they got there, the feelings are just the result of what has happened so far. When you make feeling and expressing your emotions healthfully a habit, it will transform your life and your communication. As it turns out, those that can communicate clearly get their needs met best.
In Part Two, I will explore the practice and habit of feeling and communicating core emotions.
Jami Keller is Cofounder of Passion Provokers with a BS as well as Executive Relationship and Forgiveness Coach Certificatied. He is a mentor, coach, facilitator and consultant on all things Feeling and Forgiveness. He and his wife, Marla, work with singles, individuals and couples guiding them into a better story; a story of love, passion, trust, connection and humility.