This is a short introduction to the emotion compass which I designed during my last year of my Psychiatry Residency. If you wish to see more information about this instrument, feel free to visit the article on my blog. This is an instrument which I created based on some data extracted from the book, “Language of Emotion”, by Dr. Joel Davitz.
In short, he would give a group of people a scenario like, “you give a speech and find your blouse or pants were undone”. Then he would ask the subjects to respond to what you would feel by a survey. Dr. Davitiz had the subjects answer based on a categorical system as well as provide a label of the emotion. In the case of embarrassment. the subjects agreed on the categories as, “High Energy”, “Moving Away” and “Discomfort”, for example.
By applying the various data formats, I aligned 50 most frequently (and most reported as common) emotions on a three graduated axis. This permitted me to actually visualize some similarities about various emotions in relation to each other.
It was only sometime later that I explored how it would work in reverse; by reflecting on characteristics of emotions in order to clue me into an emotion which I would be feeling (when I was not clear on what I felt). Sure enough, it seemed to prove helpful. I then constructed the following chart and asked some of my clients to use it during their journaling. It was well received and seemed very useful in helping my clients connect to their emotions more clearly. This was then the springboard I used for Cognitive Therapy. For when my patients could own the true feelings they experienced, then they can begin asking, “what types of thoughts bring these feelings on?”. As it seemed useful in breaking through barriers in Cognitive Therapy, I have found it useful for myself as well. Feel free to try it out.
When you want to explore what you may be ‘feeling’, go to one bold category that you are more certain about. Here I am pointing to “Movement”, with the subcategory of, “Away”. The feelings you may be having is probably one of the emotions in a colored box as this.
Now, identify one more column which you are confident about. Here in the example, I point to the column of “Energy-Low”. So, if I want to “move away” and have “low energy”, then the likely emotion will be where I have a color box in both columns.
So, if you look at the emotion list on the left-hand side, any emotion that has both the “move away” and “low emotion” are likely emotions I am currently experiencing. Some of the emotions in common by this example are, “shame”, “grief”, “depression” and “apathy”.
I hope you will find this Emotion Compass as useful as I do.