Tag Archive for "The Art of Empathy"

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.

January 4th to January 9th, 2015 — The Art of Empathy at Kripalu!

The Art of Empathy Retreat at Kripalu 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 six-day 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.

The difference between healthy empathy and martyrdom

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 (Read more...)

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?

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

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.

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

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. 

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

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.

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

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!

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

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!

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

The Art of Empathy is here! My 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.

The gifts of contentment: Appreciation and recognition

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!”

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!

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...)

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...)

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.

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