Tag Archive for "Anxiety"

The Myth of Negative Emotions

The Myth of Negative Emotions is of course related to The Myth of Positive Emotions In my work with emotions, I focus on the intelligence, gifts, and skills that every emotion brings to you. I don’t leave any emotions out, and I don’t treat any emotion as better or worse than any other. This unified and ecological approach to emotions treats all emotions as vital, irreplaceable aspects of your neurology, your cognition, your social skills, and your awareness. I’ve discovered over the last four decades of study, research, and practice that emotions are central to everything we do, everything we think, everything we learn, and everything we are. Emotions evolved over millions of years to help us become socially successful primates, and every single one of them is vital to our functioning. We can’t leave any of them out if we want to live whole lives with all of our (Read more...)

Welcoming the gifts of anxiety

There are gifts in anxiety? Yes! People are often very surprised to learn that anxiety contains specific gifts, because anxiety is usually described only in terms of disorder or disease. However, at its most subtle level, anxiety (which is related to fear) helps you plan for the future and complete important tasks. Really!

Bringing nuance to your emotional life

The Wonderful World of Emotional Nuance! As we study emotions empathically, I’m starting out by focusing on four ideas that are widely shared, completely accepted — and absolutely problematic. These four commonly accepted ideas actually prevent you from being able to approach your emotions — or anyone else’s — intelligently. They are: The problem with valencing (imagining that there are positive or negative emotions, or pro-social or anti-social emotions) The problem with expression and repression (having only two options for working with your emotions, both of which can be unhelpful) The problem of nuance (not understanding that emotions arise in a multitude of intensities, and are present in your every waking moment) The problem of quantity (not realizing that it is completely normal for emotions to arise in pairs, groups, and clusters) In this excerpt from my new book The Art of Empathy, let’s look at the problem of not (Read more...)

How the world didn’t end — again

Hello time travelers! Last year, I made a prophecy about the Mayan 2012 prophecy, which is being promoted by some as either the end of the world or the beginning of a new dawn in human spiritual development. Since I grew up in a spiritual group that believed in an earlier version of this exact same prophecy, I took an empathic, historic look at prophecies that foretell the end of the world, the end of an era, or the beginning of a new, Utopian future. I’ve time traveled into the near future (you’re welcome!), and I can tell you with assurance that there will be two equal and opposite reactions on December 22nd, which is the day after the supposed end of the Mayan calendar: 1) The world won’t end, and 2) It won’t matter, because the prophecy will still feel true. End-of-the-world prophecies are powerful stories that speak a (Read more...)

A new prophecy for 2012

2012 is almost here, and this exciting and troubling 2011 is almost over. I hope you’re warm, safe, and well, and I wish you a Happy New Year! As we head into a year that is being promoted by some as either the end of the world or the beginning of a new dawn in human development, I’d like to take an empathic, historical look at prophecies that foretell the end of the world, the end of an era, or the beginning of a new, Utopian society. The never-ending story of the end of the world Though end-time beliefs and prophecies may seem unusual in our post-Enlightenment age, they’re actually very, very common. Humans have written down end-times prophecies since the beginning of recorded history, and these prophecies continue to be a central feature in many communities. In fact, the end times are a basic tenet of Christianity on the (Read more...)

A new practice for anxiety

Since I posted on anxiety last week, I’ve been talking to people about how they manage their own anxiety. Interestingly, my sister-in-law Janelle, who hadn’t read the post, told me about an anxiety practice she created out of some of the tools in the book. Cool! Janelle is an in-home health practitioner who works with elderly and disabled clients, and she often feels worried about them (as you can imagine!). Janelle created a way to question her anxieties as she grounds herself. It’s a perfect solution, because anxieties (and all fears) want you to ask questions, figure things out, and take action. I asked Janelle to write out the situation and her practice so you’d get a feel for it. Janelle’s Conscious Questioning I am Health Care Practitioner who visits clients in their homes. Many of my clients are low income and elderly or disabled in some way. I am referred (Read more...)

Befriending anxiety in 2011. Huzzah!

Happy New Year! In these first days of 2011, I wish you health, strong relationships, emotional awareness, peace, empathy, compassion, humor, meaningful work, and excellent rest! So many of us went through upheavals in 2010 that I think we could all use a rest and a break. Here’s a strange idea: Let’s befriend anxiety! I’ve been thinking a lot about fear and anxiety this month, and I’ve got a question and a request for you. I heard an interesting interview last month on the radio show Forum with Michael Krasny. Michael spoke with Dr. Mary Lamia, who is a psychoanalyst and psychologist working here in Northern California. She wrote a book called Understanding Myself: A Kid’s Guide to Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings. It looks like a really good book for kids, and Dr. Lamia has some very interesting things to say. In the latter part of the interview, Dr. (Read more...)

Decisions are made by your emotions? Then you’d better learn their language!

Yesterday, the CBS Sunday Morning show ran a good story on how we make decisions” It May Not Sound Rational, But Experts Say Emotions and Gut Feelings Are More Important Than Intellect in Making Choices The old wives’ tale is that we make decisions by ignoring our emotions and using our rational faculties. Wrong! The truth is that our rational brains can’t hold enough conflicting information to organize a complex decision; instead, it is our emotions that help us separate the wheat from the chaff. As most of us know, our emotions are vastly more able to process complexities than mere rationality can do. Without our emotions, we’d just stand around looking perplexed. Without our emotions, we’re actually incapable of making deep and multifaceted decisions. So … if your emotions are helping you think right now, you may be considering multiple images of highly emotional people making highly questionable decisions. (Read more...)

How to talk to sad, jealous, anxious kids

Okay, so my husband Tino and I are living in what I call “unintentional community,” or a condo complex. It’s a nice place near his new job, it’s month-to-month so we can look for a home, and it’s got trees and lovely plantings everywhere, so I’m not complaining. However, we’re right on top of people, so we hear the goings on, especially with a neighbor family whose kids play outside. The parents are cool and friendly people in their 30s, and they’ve got two boys. The older boy is five, and the baby is just under two. The boys have very different temperaments. The baby is very adventurous and giggly, and the five year old is more careful, a little bit delicate, and he cries loudly when he’s scared or his feelings are hurt. A sensitive guy. When the dad comes home from work, he and the boys play outside (Read more...)

What is Emotional Hygiene?

Emotional hygiene is an idea I developed about seven years ago (the phrase is not original to me, though) when I was dealing with depression and one of my best friends was dealing with anxiety. As it turns out, the two states aren’t very compatible! My friend and I had been very close and emotionally in sync for many years, and we were very used to sharing emotions with each other. It’s nice, and I’d say you can’t have working relationships without the ability to share emotions. However, I became aware that it wasn’t healthy to share my depressed mood with my friend, because it resulted in too much anxiety. My friend would ask worriedly, “Oh no! How awful! What should I do? Are you suicidal? Do you feel like hurting yourself?” And inside, I thought, “Well, not until you mentioned it. Calm down!” Eventually, I became careful not to (Read more...)