“How are you today?”
“Very orange, thank you.”
One of my very favorite coaching topics is to compare colors and emotions. Let me explain... In English, we already do this with a few colors:
I’m feeling blue -she’s green with envy
He’s seeing red (aka, angry)
It was the darkest time of my life (aka, black)
What a sunny (aka, yellow-happy) personality
I like to help my coaching clients talk about emotions in terms of color because it helps them develop a richer visual language to identify and express how they’re feeling.
Begin to "coach yourself" by making your own DIY emotional color wheel.
I absolutely love mine and use it at least weekly! Here’s a few ways I use mine:
- when I need help identifying what I’m feeling
- to help explain what I’m feeling to others
- to add symbolic meaning to my color choices when I’m making art or journaling
What you need to make your own:
A blank piece of paper or blank page in your journal & a set of coloring implements (markers, crayons, whatever you've got around)
1. First, pick up your favorite color or one that’s begging for your attention. Scribble a little bit of this color onto the piece of paper.
2. Next ask yourself, what do I feel when I look at this color? If you need a little help, try googling a list of emotions like this one and select the ones that just “seem to fit" that color.
3. Identified what you feel with this color? Great! Write the emotion(s) next to your scribble.
4. Proceed with all the colors of the rainbow, and any others you’d like to add, like pink brown black and grey. You shape the scribbles into a wheel, grid, or haphazard list - whatever you feel like.
Here's what my emotional color wheel looks like. Remember- don't just copy mine! Really ask yourself how YOU feel looking at each color:
Dealing with preconceived notions
Depending on your cultural surroundings, you may have some automatic associations for colors. For example, blue is sad and yellow is happy. But it’s worth noting that these assumed color associations might not be true for YOU!
I’ve had a coaching client whose favorite color to wear is grey, so grey is actually her happy color. Another client realized that yellow is her sad color because it reminder her of someone who passed away. You just never know until you let your imagination and heart connect.
How can making an emotional color wheel help me?
Sometimes it’s hard to identify what emotion you’re feeling! Try describing how you feel in terms of color instead. Being able to put a label on what you’re feeling begins the process of actually dealing with that emotion.
Sharing how you feel in terms of color instead of emotion helps remove some of the taboos of “I shouldn’t be feeling this way.” It makes it easier to admit.
If you've got kids (especially teens!) it can be easier to talk with them about their emotions using terms of color. Have your kid sit down and make up their own “color code” using the rainbow and a list of basic emotions. Depending on their age, development, and/or emotional state, they may need some assistance getting started.
Bonus tip: Take your emotional color wheel to a nearby art exhibit or gallery. Use your wheel to ask yourself how each art piece makes you feel. Do you think the artist had color associations similar to yours, or different? Delving into color and emotion enlivens your understanding of art and all kinds of visual information. It enriches your experience at an art gallery, helps you understand why you’re drawn to one brand of soap over another, helps you make more informed design decisions in your home or your job.
👉have you ever thought of your emotions in terms of color?
👉 What other examples of color as emotion can you think of from language, media, etc.?