The magical relationship between anger and forgiveness

Anger is essential to true forgiveness I wrote this piece in my book The Language of Emotions back in 2010, but I return to it a lot. So much of what we’re told about forgiveness teaches us to avoid the powerful emotions that arise when we’ve been wounded or betrayed. But these powerful emotions are crucial to our ability to realize what happened, feel it, and … Read More

Understanding and befriending anger

We’ve been told that anger needs to be controlled or suppressed, and that it’s a negative emotion, but anger can be the most honorable emotion you have if you know what it is, why it appears, and how to work with it. All of your emotions bring you specific gifts and skills, and we’ll look at all of your emotions — one by one — in … Read More

Learning to Value Your Anger

How does anger work? In my work with emotions, I identify what’s happening when people feel specific emotions. For instance, when we say we’re angry, what is occurring? What are the situations that call forth an anger response and how does the anger address what’s happening? How does anger support or impede us, and what is anger’s purpose? Over the decades, I’ve asked that question of … Read More

The difference between deep empathy and niceness

When people think of empathy, they tend to see it as a soft skill — as a yielding and pleasing kind of behavior. They think: If you listen to me and agree with me and make me feel good, that’s empathy. If you fix my problems and soothe everything, that’s empathy. Empathy equals niceness. But there’s actually a deeper form of empathy that transcends mere niceness … 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 … Read More

A new option for working with your emotions!

The Wonderful World of Emotional Choice! As we enter into an empathic study of emotions, 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 … Read More

Emotions are Action-Requiring Neurological Programs

When I wrote The Language of Emotions, I had not yet found a concise definition of emotions anywhere, so I sort of tap-danced around the issue and dove into my own empathic view of emotions as unique messengers that carry specific gifts. But I read a wonderful book last year that presented the perfect definition: emotions are action-requiring neurological programs — and I relied upon this … Read More

Is it a Feeling or is it an Emotion?

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 … Read More

How much emotion is too much?

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 … Read More

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