Module 4: Using the wheel of emotions to upgrade our unconscious behaviours

Introducing Plutchiks wheel of emotions! This is module four of the Emotions Master Class For Men. This page will show you how to use the wheel  to upgrade your unconscious responses to events like a relationship crisis. Get ready to master your emotions like never before and transform your relationship breakdown or break up into a breakthrough!

Whats coming up on this page

  • How emotions influence your behaviour
  • How to change your behaviour through emotional awareness
  • Shifting your focus on towards or away from responses
  • Introduction to Plutchiks Wheel of Emotions
  • Plutchiks Wheel of emotions
  • Opposites Attract
  • Coming next for your Emotions Master Class

How emotions influence our behaviour

Before you consider how emotions influence your behaviour go back to module 1: Why we have emotions? You discovered that emotions are linked to risk and reward systems of our early ancestors. You also discovered how emotions impact on our habits. 

Now we can consider how the wheel of emotions influence our behaviour. This is a huge step in emotional intelligence and it isn't an easy step to take because it means you have to work on you. You are the focus of this study. Where do you start, emotion, or behaviour?

In the beginning there was a behaviour. Our ancestors were hunting when they came upon an obstacle. They adopted their behaviour to overcome the obstacle. They experienced an emotional reward. 

Then they came face to face with a threatening animal (perhaps a pack of wolves or a bear). Their system kicked in to overdrive as they experienced the emotion of fear. They overcame the threat but adopted their behaviour so as not to have to face the threat again.

Fast forward to current situation and I imagine that you aren't a hunter, and you very rarely come upon wolves or bears, but your behaviours are still triggered by the risk and reward awareness.

How to change your behaviour through emotional awareness

Think about a behaviour that you do that you would like to adjust or eliminate. Think about that behaviour now and how it has shown up for you throughout your life. Trace it back a little.

When was it at its strongest?

What was the impact of the behaviour then? 

How did you feel about your response?

You are acknowledging that you have a behaviour that was created some time ago in your unconscious mind. The behaviour is having an unwanted impact upon you now. The behaviour leaves an emotional residue somewhere within the wheel of emotions that no longer serves you, but at some point it did. There was a benefit, but now the behaviour does not provide the same benefit. It almost sounds like an addiction whereby the behaviour must become increasingly extreme to elicit the same benefit!

Shifting your focus on towards or away from response

Ok, right now, in this moment what benefit or gain are you seeking by eliminating, or modifying the behaviour?

In order to process this question most people start with "Well, I don't want to keep doing this ..." Shift your focus to what you want instead.

Away from response example:

I don't want to come home and automatically switch on the TV to watch the news

I don't want to eat fast food at lunch every day

I don't want to start arguing with my partner every time we disagree

I don't want to be cleaning up dog mess in the garden everyday

Towards response example:

I want to come home and practice tai chi. 


I want to come home and meditate for 20 minutes. 

I want to wake up early and prepare my own lunch.


I want my food to be the optimum fuel for my body

I want to understand  my partners feelings. 


I want to learn the wheel of emotions to understand my partner

I want to take the dog for a walk every morning before I go to work


I want  a cat!

(Just kidding, I love dogs!)

What is the behaviour you want?

I want to ...

In this moment what benefit or gain are you seeking by eliminating, or modifying the behaviour? How will you feel when you do that?

I will feel/experience ....

If you actually stepped up and took action by writing this out for yourself how inspired to make a change are you, on a scale of 1-10, 10 being totally inspired and committed! 

The wheel of emotions below will fill in any gaps. If you are unsure how to verbalise or write the emotion Plutchiks Wheel will show you the way.

Introduction to Plutchiks Wheel of emotions

Robert Plutchik was professor emeritus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and adjunct professor at the University of South Florida. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University and he was also a psychologist. He authored or coauthored more than 260 articles, 45 chapters and eight books and edited seven books. Pretty impressive. 

Although his work on emotions amounts to theory his work is widely recognised. His research work in psychology included studies around emotions, suicide and violence, which might in turn represent reasons why a patient might refer to a psychologist, or psychotherapist. It would be interesting to see if the same conclusions were drawn following detailed research studies of optimum health, wellbeing and love.  

The wheel of emotions is built around eight primary emotions; anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust, and joy. Each of the eight primary emotions can be linked to a trigger for survival type behaviour. In fact, they are considered primary emotions because they would have indicated a high survival value to our ancestors. 

There are a number of precepts that support Plutchiks wheel of emotions theory. The key precepts: 

  • Emotions also have an evolutionary history 
  • Primary emotions can be conceptualised in terms of pairs of polar opposites.
  • Emotions can be derivatives or combinations
  • Emotions can exist in varying degrees of intensity or levels of arousal.

Plutchiks Wheel of emotions

So lets take a look at Plutchiks wheel of emotions to see where exactly you are in this behaviour pattern:


Machine Elf 1735, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Opposites Attract

What emotions are stirred before you act on the impulse to do the behaviour. 

Where on the wheel of emotions are you after completing the behaviour.

Where do you want to be?

Coming next for your Emotions Master Class

I hope you learned something about how your emotions are interconnected and how emotions can influence your behaviour in the Wheel of Emotions. 

You are on a roll and really understanding the role of emotions in your relationships, and your life on whole new level. 

Take time now to discover how to master your emotions in Module 5 of your Emotions Master Class or come back soon. You are nearly there! Keep up the great work!

In the meantime if you are ready to discuss some ideas around how life coaching could really accelerate your relationship breakthrough get in touch and schedule a free coaching consultation.  

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