A new practice for anxiety

I’ve been talking to people about how they manage their anxiety, and my sister-in-law Janelle told me about an anxiety practice she created out of some of the tools in The Language of Emotions. 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 … 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 … Read More

A holiday gift for your emotions

Holidays can be wonderful, but they can also be difficult if family or work relationships are strained. During the holidays, I see many people respond to difficult relationships by isolating themselves (or wishing they could), and I’d like to suggest a different tactic: gossip. Hold on! I’m not talking about any old gossip. I suggest ethical empathic gossip. There’s a little back story here.  Many years … Read More

Are you a skilled emotionologist?

As psychology, neuroscience, and primatology leap forward in understanding, we’re finally remembering that empathy and emotions are essential to our intelligence. The old, tired idea that emotions are the opposite of rationality has been superseded by this: emotions and rationality are partners in cognition. You can’t think clearly without your emotions, and you can’t emote skillfully without your verbal, rational intelligence. One aspect of your cognition … Read More

Is it real, or is it reified?

We talked about the difference between imaginary things and imaginal things a few days ago, and about how important our imaginal capacities are. Basically, the difference between the two is that imaginal things are those that we create intentionally, whereas imaginary things (such as Easter Bunnies and optical illusions) are those that we don’t consciously choose. For me, imaginal things have intentionality behind them; they have … Read More

Imaginary or imaginal?

Our site pal Mike Stumpf has asked me to explain the difference between imaginary and imaginal, because I mention our imaginal abilities in my book. It’s a good question, Mike! I think we all know what imaginary things are: they’re unreal things we might fear or wish for, like a bogey man or the Easter Bunny. We mostly know that these things aren’t real, but we can … Read More

What’s so funny ’bout “negative” emotions?

Last week, I spoke at two bookstores here in California. During one Q&A, someone asked me about the ideas a current spiritual teacher has about emotions. This teacher says that emotions are the body’s responses to thoughts. I blurted out “Oh, he’s full of sh!t.” Out loud. I experienced a complete failure of my internal monologue system. Oh shiiiite! You could hear a pin drop, and … Read More

Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining!

Are you dealing with Passive-Aggressives? These people fall through on their promises and responsibilities and then blame everyone and everything but themselves. They also have the charming tendency to blame you or bring up grievances when you call them on their non-performance. What is going on with these people? Passive Aggression was once seen as a mental illness or personality disorder, but further research showed that … Read More

How to Ignore People (!)

Last week, we looked at a questionable study on empathy, and many of us took the test the study is based upon. In the comments section, Lorelei shared her high empathy score (68 out of 70) and commented that “it can be a bit overwhelming” to feel so much for and from others. I empathize with that! Before I knew how to manage my extreme empathy, … Read More

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