Tools to understand emotions and feelings

Tools for your work: the metaFox deep pictures “World of Emotions” combine 52 stunning images with 52 powerful coaching questions. The Emotions Compass helps with discovering and naming emotions.

Emowhat? - a brief overview of emotions

The importance of emotions

Understanding ourselves, our mood and our emotions is often surprisingly difficult. Yet, the ability to be aware and regulate one’s emotional state is a key ingredient of a fulfilled and successful life. Daniel Goleman and others have popularised “Emotional Intelligence” as a catalyst for successful leadership1 and personal relationships2. Increasing our “EQ” has become a common goal of coaches, trainers and therapists. Goleman’s emotional intelligence model looks at awareness and regulation of the emotions of ourselves and others. By crossing these two categories, it draws a holistic map of crucial skills for the digitised world of the 21st century.

How are emotions created?

According to the two factor theory3 and similarly described in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), our emotions are based on a stimulus and arise through the interplay of physical arousal and a cognitive label.

In practice what this means is that we interpret the situation we’re in cognitively (we “think”), possibly connecting what we experience with our memory, and together with a sensation (“feeling”) in our body, this results in an emotion.

Looking at an example situation, let’s imagine that we walk home through a lonely street. We see a person in a long coat catching up to us (“stimulus”) which reminds us of a crime movie we watched recently (cognitive interpretation) and our heart starts beating faster (physical arousal). We experience fear.

What emotions do we experience?

Emotions can be described with words, and they can also be categorised according to their valence (is an emotion pleasant/positive or unpleasant/negative?) and activation (the energy level experienced with the emotion). The Circumplex of Emotions, a model originally proposed by psychologist James A. Russel in 1980, visualises emotions along these two axes. Within this system of coordinates, we can locate our emotional state and label the emotion without needing words.


1. Douglas, C., Ammeter, A. P., & Buckley, M. R. (2003). Emotional intelligence, leadership effectiveness, and team outcomes. The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 11(1), 21-40.

2. Zeidner, M., Matthews, G., & Roberts, R. D. (2012). What we know about emotional intelligence: How it affects learning, work, relationships, and our mental health. MIT press.


metaFox deep pictures "World of Emotions"

A postcard set to develop emotional intelligence

The deep pictures combine powerful images with coaching questions. The illustrations and questions of the “World of Emotions” card deck focus on the themes of feelings and emotions. Images show both sad and cheerful situations, and help to spark association, inspiration and motivation. Use the cards in a variety of situations.

deep pictures "World of Emotions" in action

Using a variety of methods, deep pictures can bring you into contact with your own and other people’s feelings.

In coaching and therapy

Spread (some of) the 52 coaching cards on the table and provide your client with a large choice of possible associations. Read more about it here.

In workshops, training und seminars

Ese the image cards to close your emotional intelligence training session on non-violent communication seminar! Read here, how exactly!

For personal reflection and inspiration

Reflect on images and questions, pin the cards as a daily motivation on your wall or place them on your desk.

The Emotions Compass - a guide to understanding thyself

When checking in with ourselves, it is often difficult to find the right words, the right “vocabulary” for how we feel. Becoming more fluent in our use of words for feelings is a requirement for self-knowledge as well as for developing coaching skills. To tackle this problem, we developed the “Emotions Compass”.
The metaFox Emotions Compass is a two-page at-a-glance overview of pleasant and unpleasant emotions as well as their underlying thoughts and body sensations. The concepts included are based on cognitive behavioural theory (CBT) and non-violent communication (NVC), presented in a clear all-encompassing structure. Different colours correspond to different clusters of feelings, thoughts and body reactions.

The laminated high-quality printout can support the process of self-discovery, coaching, and therapy in:

  • Self-discovery & for self-knowledge in everyday life
  • Emotional intelligence and leadership coaching
  • Non-violent communication training (Marshall Rosenberg)
  • Social work and supervisions
  • Therapy and related fields