by Jami Keller
In Part One of this blog series I talked about how your performance matters. How you show up shows what you value, and we all live out our values. I was very confused about my own value and, therefore, had difficulty because my main value had become “to avoid conflict and pain.” Maya Angelou said, “You do what you do based at what you value most at the time.” Our values are visible in how we live.
Today, in Part Two, I am going to explain how to navigate the wheel so that you can communicate clearly and teach others to do so by example.
Start with your feelings, and practice expressing them in the moment. It may take some time to clear the backlog…. And it’s okay to take your time.
Let’s make creating healthy community where we are a first priority, let’s value each other enough to show that in a safe community it is ok to feel, and express your feelings and only you are responsible to those feelings. The Feeling Wheel is a much-needed tool to build community, strengthening our ability to solve the personal and worldwide problems. It takes practice to use the Feeling Wheel 4.0, and it requires that you pay attention to your feelings.
By beginning with identifying your feelings, you can very quickly improve just about any situation. I know because I was passively suicidal for over 17 years, but if I had been conscious of my feelings and learned to express them appropriately this would not have been the case. I was confused because I did not learn that I was valuable without performing. What we need to communicate most of all is what we desire. We cannot expect our desires to be met when we are unable to articulate what they are. And it is no big surprise that what we want most as human beings is acceptance.
In order to be accepted and approved of as our authentic selves, we must be communicating clearly. This requires knowing what our feelings are at any given moment, and the story we tell ourselves everyday. This is where the Feeling Wheel helps us have a better understanding of what is happening now, and a common language to communicate those feelings with those we care about.
The Feeling Wheel has three sections: the hub, middle ring and outer ring. Let’s start with the hub:
The core of the wheel has three feelings: Shame, Forgiveness and Love. This is the core of all of our drama. All our behaviors are related to how we deal with these three feelings. Think of Shame as the giant lie that you are not worthy of love. This is why Marla and I put Shame across from Love. It is because Shame is the only toxic feeling on the wheel, and it is in fact based on a lie; the lie that any person believes that they are a bad person. And because of the nature of Shame, it sticks to other feelings like Fear, Anger, Jealousy and even Peace and Joy. All feelings free from shame are healthy feelings, as they are giving us important information like, “Run away from the danger”, or, “This is important to me”.
The problem I had was what we called “hereditary shame.” I felt guilty and shamed all the time. Because of this I remember thinking and saying out loud, “Fuck it.” This attitude did not require much thinking, and I was making terrible choices starting in seventh grade, thus the language. It took me a long time to even realize I was on such a devastating self-destructive path, and it didn’t need to. What is important now is that we start investing in stronger relationships so we can build better communities and it starts with our feelings.
As it turns out, after nearly twenty-two years of helping people learn to forgive inside the hurt of life, every single time, if done consistently, forgiveness brings people to Love. By loving themselves they build better relationships. It is not complicated. In fact, it is a choice and when done consistently is very effective. Accountability in a blame-free environment is also helpful.
Love often gets a bad wrap from romance novels and difficult boundaries around sexual stuff. Love has a tough job because we only have one word in the English language for really three huge constructs. Love has three components: Agape, Philos, and Eros. Agape is universal love of all life, the love of a Creator, or the force that holds the omniverse together. Philos is brotherly love, the love you have for a sibling or best friend. Eros gets all the attention, and often colors our view of love because of issues around erotic love.
Love, of course, is the only thing that brings meaning to life. These three feelings, Love, Forgiveness and Shame represent the core conflict of our hearts as we try to make sense out of life. It’s often brutal on our hearts, and this affects our ability to feel safe enough to really feel our feelings. Researchers have found that the heart has forty thousand brain cells that function separate from the brain and the vascular function of the heart. So our hearts have memory, and they need to be trained just like education trains our brains. This core of the Feeling Wheel is the source of conflict we often feel around emotion and expressing our feelings well.
Just outside the core are six feelings that are indeed modes. A mode is a pattern of behavior solidified to help us function and communicate. Think of it as an autopilot program that gets activated in certain situations, designed to protect your heart. Most often we don’t think much about doing these things, we just do them often without much conscious thought. These are often packages of behaviors that once served us well and helped us survive, but are now needing to be updated to serve us better.
On the top or Northside, there is Abandoned, Fear and Control. These three feelings are representations of the modes, and while all of the six need “maintenance” on a regular basis these are the three that serve as warnings about what needs updating. It turns out that most relationships have a Control/ Abandonment pattern in them. And the kicker is that we don’t have to be Controlled or Abandoned to get the cycle going. If we fear that we will be Controlled or Abandoned we are most likely to respond negatively with one of these modes because of fear.
Let’s explore what happens when you drop into the mode of Abandonment:
Abandonment is partially defined by it’s petals (as all the modes)--Guilt, Ashamed, Depressed, Lonely, Sad, and Tired. And its opposite is Joy. One description is that Abandoned is triggered when people turn their backs on you and leave you behind.
Feeling Abandoned can be physical or emotional, and is often both. No number of words can explain it better than you can feel it. It is nearly universal that we all have felt shut out or abandoned in some way.
Any feeling can become a mode. There are more modes than we can list, and so these are a simplified and partial representation. We use the nine feelings in the hub of the Feeling Wheel 4.0 to represent a general map and compass to help us communicate clearly with each other. Once a feeling like Abandonment has been experienced enough times we develop a pattern of expression, or often lack of expression, to limit the pain we experience.
All of our early strategies worked to keep us alive so far. And most often those same strategies are no longer needed. We have found that this is consistently the source of success or failure in life.
In the third and final part of this blog series will take a closer look at what forgiveness is and how to drain shame out of your life starting now. It is not complicated; it just takes being consistent and avoiding the idea that you already have. Most of us misunderstand the power of forgiveness because it is NOT a one-time thing, it is a daily focus forward, so we can change the old shaming thoughts into a beautiful life.
Marla and Jami
Cofounders of JamiAndMarla.LOVE (fka Passion Provokers and Keller Coaching) Jami and Marla are proud to bring a new level of success to coupleships worldwide with their unique coaching, mentoring, and consulting process. Their blogs are not only informative for coupleships they are personal. For over 25 years they have been helping people create emotionally and physically intimate coupleships.
Ariel is a freelance blogger, web designer, and SEO consultant. She is 23 years young, married to her soulmate, and a proud “mother” to boxer Bruce and Yorkie Dexter. She focuses on writing content that is raw and relatable. (Info relevant at the time of writing, circa 2013-2015)