top of page

My Most Popular Confidence Coaching Tool

I recently met with a client who received a well-earned promotion. She was a couple of months into a new, more strategic role and she'd hired her backfill that would be managing her former team. She was figuring out her new normal and how to lead differently now that she was managing managers and more removed from the day-in, day-out work. 


She admitted that she was anxious and she'd been feeling that way for awhile. The anxiety wasn't totally unexpected given her advanced responsibilities, but she was frustrated that she couldn't make it go away. 


I pulled out one of the most popular tools I use with all my clients. Some of them love it. Some of them pause knowing it's time to get a little vulnerable. Many of them refer to it as the “emotional cheese wheel.” They know it's time to pause and actually name the emotions they are feeling around an issue.

emotion and feeling wheel

Why do I make it such a common practice to stop and name your emotions? Like my client, we often name the broader feeling experience we are having: anxiety, sadness, stress, imposter feelings. But these broad feeling states, if we slow down and pay attention, are usually made up of precise emotions. For my client, she was able to more narrowly label her anxiety as the following:

  • Overwhelm

  • Inadequacy

  • Anger

  • Worry

Somewhere along the line, we were taught to set our emotions aside in favor of data, logic, a “plan.” Maybe we learned that emotions mean we are being dramatic. But in my experience personally and with clients, and research shows, the more we are able to accurately label our emotions, the more in control we feel. Since we act based on what we think and feel, claiming and naming our emotions helps us take our power back by getting clear on intentional action.


Emotions are simply data that give us clues as to what matters to us and what we care about. This is what it did for my client. When we got granular about what emotions she was feeling below the anxiety, she was able to identify WHY she was feeling them. She realized:

  • A boundary had been crossed and she needed to communicate that

  • A courageous performance conversation needed to be had

  • Her delegation tactics needed tweaking so correct action would be taken

  • Self-compassion would be helpful as she is back in “new role learning mode”

🔥 I know it's tempting when we feel the hard feelings like doubt, anxiety, uncertainty, or imposter feelings, to criticize ourselves for feeling that way in hopes it will go away. Or worse, try to shove it aside and soothe it with overwork and overfunctioning. But, I have yet to meet anyone who has been able to criticize themselves into more confidence. (I've sure tried!). Keep reading for how to use the emotions wheel to reclaim your power and advance with more confidence.

Quote from Closing the Confidence Gap: "You cannot criticize yourself into more confidence."

Put this tip into action:

I get it. Stopping to name and account for your emotions might feel vulnerable or “woo-woo.” For many years of my life I can tell you that I personally didn't think to check in with any intelligence that lived below by neck. However, I can also tell you that my inability to recognize and name my emotions led to many poor life and relationship decisions. My head was always ready to talk my heart out of what it knew to be true or what needed to be addressed.


Reclaim your personal power and confidence in challenging times by naming and claiming your emotions. 


1. Notice them with compassion, not criticism: 

  • What emotions are present for me?

  • Where am I feeling them in my body (head, neck, shoulders, stomach, etc)?

2. Name them. Use the emotions wheel above (or google ‘emotions wheel’) 

  • Choose words that resonate with your inner experience

  • Look at many categories, sometimes “good" and “hard” emotions can co-exist

3. Normalize them. As psychologist Susan David says, “There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ emotions. They just are energy in motion."

  • Of course you feel these emotions because you are a normal, healthy human being

  • Of course you feel these emotions because you care deeply about your work, the person, the situation, etc

4. Act on them in alignment with your values. What is this emotion calling me to do next? Some examples below:

  • Sadness: What needs to be grieved or let go of? What support needs to be asked for?

  • Anger: What boundary was crossed? What conversation needs to be had?

  • Happiness: What needs to be celebrated?

  • Fear: What needs to be clarified or investigated? Where can I get curious? What do I know for sure in this moment?

Try this next: In your next frustrating situation, label your emotions, but remember that you are not your emotions. “Unhook” from them by repeating a few times, “I notice that I am feeling….” 


Remember, you're naming your emotions doesn't give them power, it helps YOU reclaim your power by creating internal clarity.

13 views0 comments


bottom of page