Tag Archive for "Emotional Hygiene"

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.

The difference between empathy and enmeshment

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?

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...)

Six Essential Aspects of Empathy, part 2

Hello, part 2! In part 1 of this post, we looked at the six aspects of empathy that I’ve compiled for my new book The Art of Empathy (October, 2013), and we delved into the first two aspects (Emotion Contagion and Empathic Accuracy). In this post, we’ll delve into aspects 3 through 5. 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 stimulation and contagion occur, 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 (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...)

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...)

We can only talk if you can be emotional!

So I’m leaving the YMCA after my swim yesterday morning, and I overhear an older couple having an argument. I don’t know what preceded this statement, but the man snapped at his wife, “We can’t talk if you’re going to be emotional about it!” “Hah!” I said in my head as I walked past them, “Hah! And you think you’re not being emotional, old man? I see anger, frustration, shame, anxiety, and even a little bit of envy, because your wife is able to display sadness in public, though you can’t. You’re not fooling me!” Of course, I didn’t say that out loud, because no one asked for my opinion! But how many times have you heard some version of that ridiculous statement? “We can’t talk if you’re going to be all emotional about it!” It’s funny that we give nonsense like that a pass, because if you aren’t emotional (Read more...)

Working through depression

Depression seems to be continually in the news. Medical and psychological researchers (and news outlets) focus a great deal of attention on depression, and it seems that every week brings a new story about what does and doesn’t work for depression. This is great; it’s a positive movement that is helping to make depression more of an everyday topic (instead of a hidden shame). However, many media figures report on research they don’t understand very well, and many lump all depression into one category, as if mild depression and bipolar depression are similar things. Or as if major depression can be treated in the same way atypical depression or postpartum depression should be. A great deal of the current news about the ineffectiveness of antidepressants isn’t taking into account the different forms of depression and the different treatments required. In The Language of Emotions, I focus on situational depression, which (Read more...)

Emotion Theater!

Last week, I taught Emotion Theater to the Master’s of Counseling Psychology program at the University of San Francisco. Emotion Theater is a teaching tool I created to give people an idea of how emotions interact in real time. In the book, I give each emotion its own chapter and talk about what each emotion is for, what gifts it contributes to you, how it works, how it can become disordered, and how you can get into a better relationship with it. In some chapters, I talk about interactions between emotions such as anger & sadness, anger & fear, fear & confusion, and so forth. However, in a book, I can’t really show you how all of the emotions interact — because there are so many emotions, and because their interactions are too numerous and too rapid to get down on paper.  So I created a live action teaching tool, (Read more...)

How much emotion is too much? (revisited!)

When I talk about The Language of Emotions, one of the central ideas I try to get across is that all emotions are useful. If you can approach them with care and ask them the right questions, there aren’t any “bad” emotions. Every emotion has a specific function, and all of them are important and instructive. Some very intense emotions (such as hatred and panic), which I call the “raging rapids” emotions, need to be handled with care, but in most normal cases, you can understand and work with your emotions on your own. However, there are times when you’ll need assistance with your emotions. The way to know when you need help is simple: When your emotions repeat continually and do not resolve, or when they overwhelm you or the people in your life, it’s time to find out what’s going on. When things are going well, all of (Read more...)

Emotions: Action-requiring neurological programs

In my previous post, where I asked you to tell me what you’d like to learn in this year’s online Language of Emotions course, we got a wonderful set of responses. Thanks! I’m already creating a group of learning modules based on your feedback. Thanks everybody! As I pondered your responses and requests, I kept being reminded of things I had just read in Antonio Damasio’s book, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain. It’s a good, though quite involved read, in which Damasio is laying out some theories of consciousness, based on his work as a neuroscientist. How does a brain create a mind? How does the mind create a self? What are the connections between wakefulness, consciousness, mind, and self? Can you be awake but not conscious? (Yes, for instance, in epileptic “absence” seizures.) Interestingly, Damasio puts forth the hypothesis that true self-aware and other-aware consciousness cannot occur (Read more...)

Let’s get our learn on!

As a “do-it-aheader,” I’m preparing the curriculum for my Language of Emotions 8-week online course that starts on Tuesday, March 13th. The course is Emotional Flow: Becoming Fluent in the Language of Emotions, and I’ll post registration information as soon as I have it (probably in December or January). This will be a wonderful, affordable, and interactive way to deepen your understanding of empathy and emotional awareness. It will be awesome! This course will be provided through Sounds True’s online architecture, and it will have video, audio, and text components, an online forum, three live sessions for direct teaching and Q&A, and a number of downloadable learning modules. I’m taking three of Sounds True’s courses right now so that I can take the online infrastructure out for a spin. It’s fun! I think we’ll be able to create a really interactive and informative way to explore empathy and emotions in (Read more...)

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