Tag Archive for "Emotion Work"

Emotion work revisited!

I’ve had the opportunity to bring my work into the corporate world recently, and I’m having such a wonderful time! In Emotional Dynamics at Work®, we’re working on emotions, empathy, and the crucial concept of emotion work, and I want to share it with you. Understanding emotion work In her groundbreaking book, The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling, sociologist Arlie Hochschild (pronounced hoke-shilled) described what she termed emotional labor, or the way that our emotions and emotional states are a part of what we offer (and what is expected from us) in the workplace. In her book, Hochschild gives examples of flight attendants, who must not only understand the intricacies of their physical work on airplanes, but must also display an open and welcoming demeanor to passengers. Even when passengers are bad-tempered or overly needy, part of the work of a flight attendant is to continually offer a calm, (Read more...)

A surprising new empathic skill: Complaining! (Consciously!)

When people think of empathy, they tend to see it as a soft skill, full of yielding and niceness. That’s a part of empathy, but there’s a deeper and more full-bodied form of empathy that helps you engage with people when they (and you!) are not feeling nice at all. In The Art of Empathy, I share a number of relationship skills for dealing with conflict and for repairing bonds, and this is one of my favorites: Conscious Complaining.

Understanding multiple emotions

 The Wonderful World of Multiple Emotions! There are four ideas about emotions that are widely shared and accepted — yet are 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 way multiple emotions act and interact in your everyday (Read more...)

Embodying Empathy — An April Workshop in Berkeley!

A day-long intensive with Nick Walker and Karla McLaren Saturday, April 6th, 2013 in Berkeley Empathy is everywhere in the news, in books, and in our conversations about each other and our world — and empathy is possibly the most important social skill you possess. However, empathy can be very fragile. It is common to get triggered and lose the capacity to empathize in the presence of conflict, difference, anger, fear, anxiety, and defensiveness. You may attack or withdraw, or you may become unable to think or feel your way to a more workable response. The solution: Learn to fully embody your empathy so that it becomes a safe and reliable stance that you can return to in times of trouble.

Four ideas that lead directly to emotional confusion

The Wonderful World of Emotions! As we study emotions empathically, we’ll look at each emotion in terms of what it does, what gifts it brings you, and how you can work with it — but before we look at emotions individually, I’d like to focus on four ideas that are widely shared, completely accepted — and absolutely problematic. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio’s ground-breaking reframing of emotions as action-requiring neurological programs is wonderfully helpful, but there’s so much trouble in the emotional realm that I want to clear away four ideas that create endless emotional confusion. Before we can empathically explore the specific actions your emotions require, we need to take a look at some commonly accepted ideas that actually prevent you from being able to approach your emotions — or anyone else’s — intelligently. The problem with valencing (imagining that there are positive or negative emotions, or pro-social or anti-social emotions) (Read more...)

Love, Power, and Justice

Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. “What happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites – polar opposites – so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love. It was this misinterpretation that caused Nietzsche, who was a philosopher of the will to power, to reject the Christian concept of love. It was this same misinterpretation which induced Christian theologians to reject the Nietzschean philosophy of the will to power in the name of the Christian idea of love. Now, we’ve got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and (Read more...)

How accurate is your empathy?

How good are your Emotion-Recognition skills? Last week, we looked at a vital part of the first aspect of empathy (Emotion Contagion), which is your capacity to feel your way into the emotions of others. And with the support of the concept of Einfühlung, we also opened up our idea of empathy to include your capacity to feel into and alongside nonhuman actors like animals and nonliving things like art. With the help of your innate Einfühlung capacities, you can feel your way into nature, art, music, literature, and movement — and you can have intense emotional experiences and empathic relationships with things that are not alive. In my new book, The Art of Empathy, I rely upon this empathic capacity when people are hyperempathic and overloaded with the emotional needs of others. I have them begin to direct their empathic skills toward art, literature, music, dance, movement (etc.) — (Read more...)

Empathy and autism

Empaths, we’ve got a situation. After these most recent mass murders, people are focusing their fears onto mentally ill people and autistic people. This is not only cruel, but it’s counterproductive, since autistic people and people who are mentally ill are far more likely to be victims of crime than to commit crimes. Since the Sandy Hook murders occurred, I’ve been very quiet, reading academic books on murder and violence, selectively accessing media, and watching people in my Facebook feeds reacting, sharing information, raging, grieving, posting, counter-posting, and theorizing wildly about the young man named Adam Lanza who killed his mother and then went to a local school to kill 26 people and then himself. The opinions are still exploding, people are grandstanding, fake messages from Morgan Freeman are circulating, and feverish, ungrounded theorizing about mental illness, autism, survivalism, gun safety, and school safety are being argued about ferociously. All (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...)

Six Essential Aspects of Empathy, part 3

Hello, part 3! In part 2 of this post, we looked at the third through fifth aspects of empathy. In this post, we’ll look at the culminating aspect, which I call Perceptive Engagement. As a reminder, here is my empathic compilation of the six essential aspects of empathy. 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 emotion contagion occurs, and 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. Empathic Accuracy: This is the ability to accurately identify and understand emotional states and intentions in yourself and others. Emotion Regulation: In order to be an effective empath, you’ve got (Read more...)

Embodying Empathy — An April Workshop In Berkeley!

A new workshop with Nick Walker and Karla McLaren Saturday, April 6th, 2013 in Berkeley Empathy is everywhere in the news, in books, and in our conversations about each other and our world — and empathy is possibly the most important social skill you possess. However, empathy can be very fragile. It is common to get triggered and lose the capacity to empathize in the presence of conflict, difference, anger, fear, anxiety, and defensiveness. You may attack or withdraw, or you may become unable to think or feel your way to a more workable response. The solution: Learn to fully embody your empathy so that it becomes a safe and reliable stance that you can return to in times of trouble. Empathy as an embodied practice In Embodying Empathy, somatic psychologist and aikido sensei Nick Walker and empath Karla McLaren will help you access your empathy tangibly so that you can (Read more...)

Stress is a weasel word — and maybe that’s good!

In The Language of Emotions, I talk about stress as a “weasel* word,” or a word that people use to hide emotional awareness from themselves. In one of the final chapters in my book, Stress and Resistance: Understanding Emotional Physics, we look at stress after we’ve learned about each of the emotions in depth — and we identify stress very clearly as an emotional reaction. However, since we’ve all be trained to talk about stress as if it is a thing that happens to us (and over which we have no control), we tend to lose our skills and our focus when stressful situations arise. “Help! Stress is happening! It’s an overwhelming force over which I have no control! I’m powerless!!” We’ve learned to weasel away from the truth of what’s happening, and in so doing, we’ve lost our emotional awareness in the area of stress. But if you look (Read more...)

Autism Acceptance Month: Empathy in Action

Dear Fellow Empaths, April is here with its promise of Spring, but this has also become a time that can cause a great deal of pain for many autistic people and parents of autistic children. Why? Because tomorrow (April 2nd) is Autism Awareness Day, and in many cases, the awareness focus is on alarmist rhetoric about epidemics and despair — and on finding a cure at any cost (and framing autism as a tragedy) instead of focusing on the intrinsic value of autistic human beings. I’ve been thinking a great deal about autistic people since I worked with a group of autistic youth in 2006, and I find that the ways their lives are framed, the disease model they are branded with, and the constant depictions of them as unempathic and mind-blind has led to an astonishing and literally life-endangering level of dehumanization (last month’s murder of George Hodgins and (Read more...)

Is it a Feeling or is it an Emotion? Revisited!

We’ve all seen it. Something is said or written, and someone will go off. I mean off. Rage, hatred, or both at once.  A fight starts, and maybe these intense emotions get handled between two people, or maybe they don’t (online interactions specialize in the maybe they don’t category). So the raging people invite allies to share (and justify) their intense emotions, and a flame war starts. If this blowup isn’t dealt with, the behavior goes unchecked, and people learn that it’s okay to allow their emotions to explode. Moderate people may try to address the emotional issues, but once alliances are formed and people share their emotions in groups, the blowups start to look justified, and not like emotional decisions at all … they become incontrovertible facts, and emotional awareness is lost. In my book, I call intense emotions like rage and hatred (and panic and the suicide urge) (Read more...)

Empaths in Winter Wonderland!

Let’s Get Emotional! Embracing Your Empathic Genius Sunday, February 12th thru Friday, February 17th, 2012 with Karla McLaren at Kripalu Retreat Center in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts! People are always telling us not to get emotional, but did you know that your emotions bring you the gifts of intuition, clarity, decisiveness, the capacity to set effective boundaries, the ability to communicate and relate with others, and the ability to amend unworkable behaviors and heal deep psychological wounds? In The Language of Emotions, I introduce you to the genius of your emotions and teach you specific skills to help you identify, welcome, and work with all of them. In this week-long retreat, you and your emotions will experience a safe and welcoming “empathic sleepover camp” where emotional awareness, deep relaxation, and healing laughter will help you translate the language of your own emotions into tangible and useful wisdom. You’ll learn (Read more...)

1 2 3 5