Karla McLaren’s Blog

You don’t have to be blue — you can celebrate the full spectrum!

April 1, 2014

Celebrate the Full Spectrum!

Logo for Autism Acceptance MonthApril 2nd is International Autism Awareness Day, but I have to say, if you’re not aware of autism yet, where have you been? The cool kids have already moved on from mere awareness to inclusion, acceptance, and love.

We’re celebrating Autism Acceptance DayAutism Acceptance MonthAutism Acceptance Year, Autism Acceptance Decade (and Autism Acceptance Eon, while we’re at it).

Many of my friends in the autism community find mere awareness campaigns to be pretty offensive, because the message about autism tends to be so bleak and panicky, full of fear-mongering and dire pronouncements. This manipulative and dehumanizing talk is a pretty good way to get people to go on walks and light things up blue and give money to giant research organizations, but it can have a very negative effect on the real lives of actual, living autistic people. Luckily, we have better options! (Read more…)

May 8th, 2014 — The Art of Empathy in Vancouver!

February 10, 2014

Empathy is an art, and you are the artist.

Free talk and book signing, Thursday, May 8th at 6:30pm at Banyen Books & Sound in Vancouver, British Columbia.

What if there were a single skill that could directly and radically improve your relationships and your emotional life? Empathy, teaches Karla McLaren, is that skill. (Read more…)

The difference between healthy empathy and martyrdom

February 3, 2014

Balancing empathy for others with empathy for yourself

When I talk about empathy, I tend to use the words healthy and intentional a great deal of the time.  If your empathy is unintentional, and you’re not sure how it works, it can be very easy to enmesh yourself with other people’s emotions and needs — to the extent that you ignore your own.  You can lose track of yourself if you’re highly empathic and you don’t have your skills under you yet.

If your empathy is unintentional and unhealthy, you can lose track of yourself and your needs, certainly, but you may also focus so intensely on others that you approach a kind of martyrdom (where you make yourself entirely responsible for the welfare of others). I see this type of martyrdom/empathy in hyper-empathic people who haven’t yet learned how to manage their empathy, and who haven’t yet realized that they have choices.

The good news is that you can learn healthy empathic skills at any age, and you can become intentional, skillful, and comfortable with your empathy. Whew. (Read more…)

The difference between empathy and enmeshment

January 23, 2014

Hello fellow empathic people!

Did you know that there’s a distinct difference between healthy empathy and enmeshment?

I’ve spent a lifetime exploring how empathy works, how it goes awry, how we can understand it more clearly, and how we can create a ground for self-care and self-empathy within our everyday lives.

I’ve also been looking at an idea about empathy that goes something like this:

Empathy means that you agree with me, that you support me, that you feel my emotions alongside me, and that you meet my needs, even if I don’t articulate them. When you do that, we’re empathizing and you’re empathic.

Really? (Read more…)

June 6th to June 11th, 2014 — The Art of Empathy Retreat at Hollyhock

January 19, 2014

The Art of Empathy West Coast Retreat

Balancing Connection, Self-Awareness, and Healthy Intimacy

Friday, June 6th through Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Hollyhock gardenEmpathy is possibly your most essential skill, yet many of us trip over it because we weren’t taught how it works. In this six-day program at the delightful Hollyhock Learning Centre on Cortes Island in British Columbia, you’ll join empathy pioneer Karla McLaren in an experiential exploration of The Art of Empathy.

No matter where you start — whether you’re highly empathic or whether you’re having difficulty accessing your empathy — you’ll learn how to work with empathy in grounded and accessible ways. (Read more…)

January 19th at Book Passage in Corte Madera!

January 2, 2014

Empathy is an art, and you are the artist!

Free talk and book signing, Sunday, January 19th, 4pm at Book Passage!

What if there were a single skill that could directly and radically improve your relationships and your emotional life? Empathy, teaches Karla McLaren, is that skill. (Read more…)

January 5th to January 10th, 2014 — The Art of Empathy at Kripalu

November 18, 2013

The Art of Empathy Retreat
Learning How to Balance Connection, Self-Awareness, and Healthy Intimacy

Empathy is possibly your most essential skill, yet many of us trip over it because we weren’t taught how it works. In this week-long program at the delightful Kripalu retreat center in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, you’ll join empathy pioneer Karla McLaren in an experiential exploration of The Art of Empathy. (Read more…)

The Six Essential Aspects of Empathy, Part 6: Perceptive Engagement

November 7, 2013

Perceptive Engagement!

Perceptive Engagement can be considered the pinnacle of your empathic skills, because it relies upon all of your first five aspects of empathy and helps you connect with others in truly supportive and workable ways.  (Read more…)

The Six Essential Aspects of Empathy, Part 5: Concern for Others

November 3, 2013

Concern for Others

Concern for Others is about caring enough — or having the time and energy you need to care enough — to skillfully empathize with others. (Read more…)

The Six Essential Aspects of Empathy, Part 4: Perspective Taking

October 29, 2013

Learning to see and feel from the perspective of others

Your Perspective Taking ability helps you imaginatively see and feel things from the perspectives of others. This skill is crucial to your ability to empathize skillfully; good Perspective Taking can help you understand what others want and need. (Read more…)

The Six Essential Aspects of Empathy, Part 3: Emotion Regulation

October 19, 2013

Learning to work with your emotions

Your Emotion Regulation skills help you feel, understand, and work with your own emotions. These abilities are crucial to your capacity to empathize skillfully; good Emotion Regulation skills can make your experience of empathy much more comfortable! (Read more…)

The Six Essential Aspects of Empathy, Part 2: Empathic Accuracy

October 14, 2013

Becoming accurate with your empathy

The crucial second aspect of empathy, Empathic Accuracy, helps you identify and understand emotions in yourself and others. This skill can make your experience of empathy much more precise and workable! (Read more…)

The Six Essential Aspects of Empathy, Part 1: Emotion Contagion

October 10, 2013

The Art of Empathy is here!

Book cover for The Art of EmpathyMy newest book and audio learning program, The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill, is now available — and I’m so happy to share it with you! I’ll be sharing each of my Six Essential Aspects of Empathy here in this blog, starting with the first, which has a strange name: Emotion Contagion.

Before empathy can take place, you need to sense that an emotion is occurring – or that an emotion is expected of you. There is currently great debate about how we realize that emotions are required from us, but it is agreed that the process of empathy is dependent upon our capacity to feel and share emotions. Empathy is first and foremost an emotional skill. (Read more…)

The gifts of joy: Radiance and splendor

October 2, 2013

Welcoming Joy!

After learning about each of the emotions one by one (you can find the list of emotions on my Featured Topics page), we arrive today at the final emotion in the happiness group: joy!

Joy is different from happiness in that it is deeper and larger somehow. It is closer in its essence to contentment, but instead of coming forth after an achievement (as healthy contentment does), joy seems to come forth during moments of communion with nature, love, and beauty – when you feel as if you’re one with everything. (Read more…)

The gifts of contentment: Appreciation and recognition

September 25, 2013

Welcoming contentment!

We just looked at happiness as a wonderful emotion that looks outward, or forward to the future, with hope and delight, and now we come to our friend contentment, which is a form of happiness and pleasure that turns inward, toward you, and says, “Hey, good job!” (Read more…)

1 2 3 4 5 11