What Is The Feeling Wheel? 

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By Ariel Minter

You often hear our team refer to The Feeling Wheel. This is because, as simple and insignificant as it may seem, it is one of the most powerful tools. Not only is it powerful, but it is so simple that you could teach children as young as four to use this successfully. 

The common curiosity surrounding The Wheel is how it can be used. The uses really are limitless, but the main one that we teach at Passion Provokers is how to use it as a way to train yourself to communicate effectively

There are a gazillion conferences, books, blogs, and talk shows that teach exclusively on how to become a better communicator. In fact, founder’s and owner’s Jami and Marla Keller have even written one (see How Men Make Women Crazy & Vice Versa: Ending the Madness). 

As humans, we tend to overcomplicate just about everything. Thank goodness we do, it means that we are actually using the most amazing resource there is to use: our brains. We have proven to be intricately complicated and genius. Just with bettering most things in our complicated lives, we must first simplify our understanding, therefore simplifying our approach.

The Feeling Wheel is not only simple; it also acts as a cheat-sheet. It takes a lot of the work out of trying to sift through all the possible answers you might give when asked “How are you feeling?”. 

One truth that Passion Provokers firmly believes is this: No one can argue with your feelings. This is because there are no “wrong” feelings. CAREFUL! This is NOT a get-out-of-jail-free card to just be an a-hole. It simply means that you never have to justify your feelings. You can be angry, happy, and peaceful all at the same time. 

The first time Jami Keller ever told me this, I was confused. How is is possible to feel such “conflicting” emotions? The truth is, it isn’t conflictual to feel seemingly oppositional feelings. In fact, it may mean you are more in tune with yourself than you even know. You can be angry about A. Happy about X. And peaceful about Y. The best part? There is absolutely no math-y kind of formula involved! They don’t equal anything but your feelings. And, as I mentioned above, all feelings are yours, to not only be felt, but to be healthfully expressed. 

When you choose not to express your feelings healthfully, they come out in all sorts of ugly ways. It can come out as snapping a few nasty words at your partner, or it can evolve to something more intense, like a fight or a breakup

The Feeling Wheel’s purpose is to show you what your potential feelings may be, and then to (hopefully) share them. My husband and I try to call or text each other at least a few times a week just to share 3 feelings with one another. Yes, we have to plan this ahead of time, even though we live in the same home and get plenty of time together outside of the work week. 

What’s really neat is that you don’t even have to share anything “major”. It can be as simple as “I’m feeling peaceful because the weather is nice today.”

The intimacy that naturally comes from sharing your feelings is unbeatable. Not only does it open the door for communication, but it allows you to understand your partner in ways that you likely haven’t before. 

Here are the instructions to start with. Like a compass for your heart the tool gets better use with practice and growth. 

This is what the Feeling Wheel can do for you, and the best way to use it:

  • It’s a Communication Tool: The Feeling Wheel is not only simple, it also acts as a cheat-sheet. It takes a lot of the work out of trying to sift through all the possible answers you might give when asked, “How are you feeling?” One truth that Passion Provokers firmly believes in is this: No one can argue with your feelings. This is because there are no “wrong” feelings. CAREFUL! This is NOT a get-out-of-jail-free card to just be an jerk. It simply means that you never have to justify your feelings. You can be angry, happy, and peaceful all at the same time. How is it possible to feel such “conflicting” emotions all at the same time? The truth is, it isn’t conflictual to feel seemingly oppositional feelings. In fact, it may mean you are more in tune with yourself than you even know. You can be angry about A, happy about B, and peaceful about C. The best part? There is absolutely no math-y kind of formula involved! They don’t equal anything but your feelings. And, as was mentioned above, all feelings are yours, to not only be felt, but to be healthfully expressed. 
  • It’s a Relationship Saver and a Health Insurance Policy: When you choose not to express your feelings healthfully, they come out in all sorts of ugly ways. It can come out as snapping a few nasty words at your partner, or it can evolve to something more intense, like a fight or a breakup. The Feeling Wheel’s purpose is to show you what your feelings are, or close to them,, and then to (hopefully) share them. Jami and Marla check-in with each other at least a few times a week just to share 3 or more feelings with one another. Yes, they have to plan this ahead of time, even though they live in the same home and get to work every day together. What’s really neat is that you don’t even have to share anything “major”. It can be as simple as “I’m feeling peaceful because the weather is nice today.” Expressing your feelings on a consistent basis you will keep you healthier physically. When you stuff your feelings your body reacts to the toxicity of those feelings and you will end up getting sick. You gotta let those feelings out so that your healthy cells can grow and populate your entire body! 
  • It will create feelings of empowerment and joy. This happens naturally when sharing your feelings on a consistent basis. Not only does it open the door for communication, it keeps you healthy emotionally and physically, and opens the doors to more fun and laughter and connection in all of your relationships.

How to Use Your Feeling Wheel

  • In your journaling/meditation time. This is how we teach our clients to journal. Step 1) Pick 3 feelings from the bottom of the Feeling Wheel that you want to have throughout the day. Write them out and then meditate on them, visualizing what that will look like (Ex: My desire and hope is to be open to joy, peace and respect today. Visualization: See yourself having respectful conversation with your boss today. See yourself embracing the joy you are experiencing because you have communicated effectively and lovingly to those you love the most. See yourself breathing deeply of peace throughout your day no matter what is happening around you.) Step 2) Being rigorously honest with yourself, write out your actions, thoughts and/or experiences from yesterday that did not allow you to experience those positive feelings from the Southside of the Wheel. The Southside is the bottom half of the wheel below the Forgiveness line. (Ex: I admit that I was inpatient and angry yesterday. I admit my thoughts that caused me to disconnect from those I love.) Step 3) Write out the things that you are grateful for. (Ex: I am grateful for health, my family, and the knowledge that I have a hopeful future.) Then just listen to your heart for 5 minutes, writing out whatever comes to you.
  • Share 3 feelings with someone you care about, and know you are emotionally safe with, about 3 events throughout your day. You can share feelings regarding events that occurred with them, or any other event or situation. This will open up a profound dialogue, and encourage you to really discover what emotions you’re experiencing.
  • Take a gut-check at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Identify the three feelings you are having right at that moment. Keep a note on your phone, or in your journal, about what the feelings are, who you are with, and what you are doing. This will allow you to become quicker and quicker to identify exactly what you are experiencing.

If you’re interested in using The Wheel, you can do so on your phone with The Feeling Wheel App, or we would be happy to mail you a laminated copy (you pay shipping and handling), or e-mail you the graphic so you can print it at home. 


Why Blame is Toxic

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By Jami Keller

After twenty years of working with families to keep them together and loving each other, we have nearly become immune to the blame that is tossed around a room. It’s easy to blame when you feel hurt, wronged, or (especially) angry.  It is so common it has become part of our culture. 

There is one rule when it comes to relationships. You can be right or you can be in relationship. Which is more important to you? This can be difficult because often we just want to have the other person recognize the hurt they may have caused us and are willing to do much in order to justify our case. 

We forget that we tend to have a huge bias towards ourselves and that even our well intentioned actions can be painful for others. 

Another thing that people forget is that if you were that other person, you would do just what they did. Really! If you were someone else you would have all their issues. So you would do what they do. What’s interesting is that we causally say “If I were (person in question) I would have done ______.” The thing is, we wouldn’t. Because we would be them and we would do exactly what they are doing.

The Native American Proverb is a tough one, “Do not judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” 

When we can step back and feel the feelings, without blame, we can begin to see more options. Feelings are just feelings and trying to work out strong feelings like anger and frustration in the moment, with the person who may be the source of these feelings, is a bad idea. 

Pressure and stress constrict our brain power like revving a care in neutral, you use plenty of gas but your not getting anywhere

Realizing that you are responsible for your own feelings and not other peoples is an easy concept to understand and a difficult one to practice. And the self-bias is another kicker. Back to walking in moccasins. We have an innate difficulty in empathy because we tend to give ourselves credit where we tend to put blame on others

So we tend to be viewing life through a paper towel cardboard center (or maybe, more appropriately, a toilet paper one). In order to open up this view and see the entire horizon we have to stop the blame. This comes back to forgivingness. Only in forgiving the hurt that may have been caused by the other person can be begin to see the facts (+ love). The facts + love = the real truth. And the truth will lead us to setting better and healthier boundaries. 

Healthy boundaries are difficult and require nearly constant maintenance, which is generally why most people lack good boundaries. For me, this took several years. It doesn’t have to take this long, but I was really invested in denying the fact that only I was responsible for my own feelings. I wasn’t consciously blaming anyone else, instead I was just really invested in not being responsible for anything that might be negative.

It turns out that the most negative emotions we have experienced again and again happen because our subconscious is trying to figure out how to resolve that first conflict (which that may not have even been our own conflict). 

So we do things to poke other people. Back again to walking in another persons moccasins. Taking that step back and asking “If I take all blame out of this situation, what would be different?” 

This allows us to start a new process where we do not have to be right because we value the relationship more than our own self protection. 

At Passion Provokers, we often say “you can be right or you can be in relationship.” The question really is: which is more important to you? 

Want More? Contact Us to Schedule Your Free Consultation.


Why You Don’t (Always) Deserve More

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I recently read a great blog by Allison Vesterfelt. She was explaining how her 20-something entitlement almost ruined her. I couldn’t help but feel as though I might have had more in common with her blog than I would have liked to admit.

The main premise was how the statement “I deserve more” was making her isolated and resentful in her marriage. 

The phrase was haunting me, because I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have said that to my girlfriends, or my girlfriends have said so to me, over the past few years. 

Sure, no one deserves to be treated badly. Most people don’t deserve half of the negative things that end up happening to them, for that matter. 

Like many of you, when things don’t go my way, I vent. I’ll vent to my husband, my best friends, my parents, my sister, my co-workers…basically, if I feel close to you, you’ve probably heard me vent once or twice. Nine times out of ten, the response is something along the lines of “You really shouldn’t have to put up with that,” or “I can’t believe X did that/happened to YOU!”. 

The message is always consistent and always the same: You deserve more. 

Most people, whose opinion I value, respond to my venting with those phrases. I would bet that your people respond the same way to you, as well.

And I respond (fairly adamantly). “Absolutely! I should NOT have to put up with that,” or  “I can’t believe X did that to ME either!”.

Not too long ago, my husband and I had a come-t0-Jesus moment and these same statements I had been telling myself he was repeating to me. We found out that we had both been thinking that about each other. I was shocked. And it was destroying us. 

In Allison Vesterfelt’s blog, she ends up sharing a similar situation. This had me thinking: this has to be a universal issue. 

If I care about you, and you share a story of something negative that happened to you, I will tell you that you didn’t deserve that. It’s because I care, and I really truly do believe that. With that being said, I’m trying to be more careful about how I say that. 

Repeating this statement, or those like it, only really creates (and feeds) a resentful idea. This idea can literally destroy relationships. As much as I love my friends, I also value the relationships they have with others. I would never want to offer them a life commandment (i.e. “You deserve more.”) and for that commandment to be what drives them away from their partner. 

Yes, I want the best for those I love. And what’s mostly best is for all of us to build up the relationships we have; not to destroy them and walk away just because we believe we deserve in an unattainable “more”. 

So, to again share the ideas of Allison Vesterfelt, I want to challenge all of us to change the way we face these situations and change the way we respond to each other. Instead of constantly telling each other how much more we deserve or telling ourselves that same thing, we need to start asking our loved ones “Are there ways you wish I treated you differently?“. 

Be warned! You will hear things you don’t want to hear. Your first reaction will be defense mode. So, perhaps let me send you off with this disclaimer: don’t ask the question unless you can handle the answers. 

I believe that we all want what is best for ourselves and those we love. This (almost always) means that we create expectations for our relationships that are borderline absurd. We expect to be served love on a silver spoon, and anything less than our ideal relationship means we aren’t being treated “how we deserve to be treated”. 

Perhaps this goes without saying, but we need to remember that we are all in this human experience, and we are all imperfect. 

When we can stop feeling entitled to a higher level of being treated, when in fact we are being treated on a healthy standard, we can stop fighting for our partner to treat us “better” and start fighting together to make the relationship better for each other

It was as easy as refusing to constantly think I deserved more, and to start changing the dynamic in my relationship with my husband. Simply by changing the way I thought about my partner completely changed the direction our relationship was headed. 

I would highly recommend reading Allison Vesterfelt’s take on this. Click HERE to read her full blog. 

Have you been feeling as though you deserve more? Has this, in turn, made you unable to appreciate your partner? Maybe it is time to stop making statements and start asking better questions.


3 Signs You Treat Your Partner as a Roommate

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By Ariel Minter

It feels as though it happens overnight. Life becomes overwhelming. You and you partner end up spending more time apart due to hectic schedules. Pretty soon, it seems like a challenge to get any quality time together, let alone some form of a date night. 

It is far too easy to start treating your partner as a roommate. Here are three signs that you are, and how to change it. 


1. A PECK ON THE CHEEK IS AS STEAMY AS IT GETS

Handholding, hugging,  and kissing on the cheek are all signs of healthy (and recommended) physical touch. However, sex (or anything of the sort) is extremely important in a coupleship, and if pecks on the cheek are currently your main form of touching, it’s time to turn up the heat.

“Sex is a foundational ingredient for true intimacy. Of course, there has to be a balance. Typically, men and women follow an emotional-physical balance. In our culture, stress is a huge tension we are required to manage. One of the first things stress devours is your sex drive. So, it is natural for sex to be one of the first things to go from your relationship when stress is high. This can happen from something as basic as a busy schedule, and it can have the worst repercussions,” shares Co-founder of Passion Provokers Marla Keller.  

Here is an easy fix: Schedule Sex! Sure, it might seem as though the flame of spontaneity is missing if you are scheduling sex, but if it is in your calendar than it is more likely to happen. 

Keep in mind that most people over-estimate how often other couples are having sex. The national average is once to twice a month for couples over the age of 40. For those under the age of 40, the number almost doubles to about once a week (read more here). However, the benefits of having sex with your partner at least once a week are impressive. 

2. YOUR LIFE REVOLVES AROUND YOUR (CHILDREN’S) SCHEDULE

It is important to keep a schedule. It is important to have yourself and your family involved in character building activities (i.e. soccer, dance classes, hot yoga, extended family events, etc). BUT when the schedule is the only thing you and you partner seem to be talking about, it’s probably time to lighten the load. 

“The problem with busy-ness is one of priorities. It is too easy in our current culture to be busy instead of productive towards our goals. When we put the things that mean most to us first, they are taken care of first. We need to write down our goals and put relationships first if we ever want to be successful, in anything. This means cutting out good things that get in the way of the best things,” adds Co-founder Jami Keller. 

The good news: this is all fixable. The easiest way to change the conversation from your to-do list to things of real value, all you need to do is listen. Listen to what is really going on, not what needs to be done. In this way, you can move from a human-doing to a human-being.

3. YOU GET MORE SCREEN TIME THAN FACE TIME

Unfortunately, we’ve all been there. Your significant other is telling you a story, and all of a sudden someone likes your photo on Instagram, or you get a text from your best friend and all of sudden you look up with eyes glazed over and say “What?”. This completely takes away from the sharing your partner is trying to give you, and yet, for whatever reason, it is mostly acceptable. 

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An easy fix for this is to be intentional. Try this: three times a day, schedule a time to contact your partner (this can be via text, phone call, or e-mail) and practice asking your partner how they feel. The goal is to share with your partner three core feelings. Have trouble figuring out what those feelings might be? Try saving the Passion Provokers Feeling Wheel, or downloading The Feeling Wheel App

Simply by actively sharing your feelings, you can rebuild the emotional side of your coupleship and practice active listening. When you feel truly heard, you are more likely to feel intimacy with your partner. And when you truly hear, your partner will be more inclined to share with you. 

Do any of the above hit home? Well, as I mentioned earlier, it is all fixable as long as you are willing to fix it. You deserve to be treated as a partner, not a roommate. 

Are you Aware of the Your Negative Self-talk? 

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By Marla Keller

In the middle of the night, I find my head spinning with way too many thoughts. It’s rare, maybe once a month or so, and I don’t like it. Let’s be real, who does? All too often, I allow my spinning, swirling, dipping thoughts to run amok. And then the fear starts. It is distant at first and not threatening, and then it becomes closer…darker…more real. Way. Too. Real.

Not too long ago, inside of the unconscious spinning, I was shaken into a keenly aware state by a very dangerous discovery. As I began to listen to the voices in my head (you know the voices, those shaming, condemning very quiet but loud voices) that I thought I had quieted so well with aaaallllllllll these years of healing under my belt, I discovered something sinister and destructive. That one voice saying over and over again, “I’m not happy.” WHAT?! Where did that come from?

Current neuroscience research has found that our subconscious mind (basal ganglia) will often trump our conscious mind (prefrontal cortex). This is exactly what I was experiencing. I believed consciously that I was happy, but my unconscious spin in the darkness of the night was that I was not happy. Wow! What a discovery. I do believe that the foundation of joy that I have felt over the past 14 years has been real. But apparently, a small part of the extremely old “I’m not happy” neuro-pathway was still in place (8 Things Your Brain Does Wrong Every Day).

You see, when I was around 10, my brother and sister both left home for boarding school, and I was left alone at the other end of the house, separated from my parents by what seemed like in my 10-year-old-brain by  m  i  l  e  s. I was horrified by the thought of being abandoned by my parents at my end of the house. I just knew they were going to leave, too. I wasn’t just unhappy, I was terrified! So, in the middle of the night, almost every night for over a year, I would pack up my bed things, haul them all the way to the other end of the universe, and sleep right outside my parents room. They were Not. Going. To. Leave. Without. Me.

Thirty-five years later, I was still carrying this fear of abandonment that came with the phrase, “I am so unhappy.” It occurred to me that it was time for this layer of the onion to be peeled away. It’s because of all the emotional work I have moved through over the past 18 years that I have finally been able to uncover this false belief. I was disturbed at first. But now I am just grateful. It was time to let go of that heavy load; to dissolve that old pathway. So, after a few mental forgiveness letters, journaling, and a lot of being more present to the present, I just (last night) woke up and heard this: “I am happy!” Yes, yes, I am.

And I feel free, a little like I’m flying above it all, at least for this moment until the next layer of the onion needs to be peeled away. 

In this process, I remembered again the story of the butterfly. Did you know that when the caterpillar is safely snug inside the cocoon that it completely dissolves? Literally dissolves into a cocoon of slime? Then, the cells reform into a butterfly, and the caterpillar goes from crawling to flying. 

I love this visual. My old, negative neuropathways are dissolving, and new, healthy pathways are taking their place. And that makes me even happier. (For more info on this, we recommend you read Mind Whispering by Tara Bennett Goleman.)

What are you “hearing” in the middle of the night? Might it be time to let it go? 

To better understand you5 negative neuropathways, I recommend watching this Ted Talk: