Enneagram Feelings WheelJul 05, 2023
What’s a Feelings Wheel?
If you aren’t familiar with a feelings wheel (emotions wheel), you aren’t alone. It’s newish to me as well. A quick google search can show you some of the most popular feelings wheels out there. It’s a colorful wheel that helps identify emotions. We had one on our refrigerator for a while to help our daughter name emotions. It also helps those of us who struggle to identify our emotions to put language to what is going on inside us.
There are a few things I don’t like about the emotions wheels I’ve encountered. For one, there is a sliver of positive emotions and most of the wheel is composed of negative emotions. Not only did the ascetics turn me off but the way it was organized didn’t help me understand what to do with the information. They had no direction. I didn’t understand how to use the map. It also seemed they were missing states-of-being connected to emotions that aren’t strictly thought of as feelings or emotions. A sense of being at peace, being loved, or having the faith to move forward were missing. These are deeply a part of the enneagram.
One morning I walked out to get coffee and saw the feelings wheel on the fridge. I started thinking about the three centers, the gifts of the types, and the integration of emotions, feelings, and states of being. I spent the next couple hours sketching out a flow that made sense to me. We often quote the mathematician that said, “All models are useful but wrong” but what I came up with felt like a better model, a step in the right direction.
Why it looks like this.
I wanted the gifts of the centers in the middle of the wheel. The core gift of the true self standing in opposition to the core interrupting or sabotaging emotion. On this diagram the classic interrupting emotions of the enneagram (fear, anger, sadness/shame) are present but stand between the gifts and the our negative experiences.
The head type’s core sabotaging emotion is fear and the opposite of fear is faith. Faith is the ability to move forward when you don’t know the outcome. Faith can imagine what is possible and move toward it. There is often a feeling of fear but there is also imagination and a gift of faith that things can move forward and get better. This is central to head types getting in touch with their true self… especially if we believe the best is permanent and the worst is temporary.
The heart type’s core sabotaging emotion is sadness or shame around feeling like they aren’t loved or worthy of love. However, being love and giving love is the core gift of these types. Their genuine capacity to give love and enfold others into a loving existence is key to their integration and a gift they give to the world. The sadness and shame feels real, but the love they are and love they give is the central truth of their identity.
The body type’s core sabotaging emotion is anger and the opposite and core is peace. Anger may be an “activating emotion” but the body types activity and movement is different when it comes from a place of peace. It’s more healthy and beautiful. When body types work from peace and not for peace they are able to bring their gifts in the purest form of calm effort.
Integration is still the key to all our work at The Art of Growth. Every Enneagram type is in us. All three centers are present in us. We have all the emotions in our human experience. This tool can help us with emotional fluency and having language around our experience. We want a rich experience of emotion. We want all of these gifts functioning in us. And good news… we can.
Jim Zartman and the Art of Growth Team