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 The old, tired idea that emotions are the opposite of rationality has been superseded by this: emotions and rationality are partners in cognition.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

New Empathic Skills!

Hey there! I just got back from teaching a week-long workshop at Kripalu, which is a yoga and personal growth retreat center in western Massachusetts. It was really fun to build a curriculum and create a place where emotional awareness was accepted and expected. This is very different from the regular world, I tell you what! One fun activity we did grew out of a skill … Read More

Hatred and Shadow Work

In preparing to talk about hatred, we’ve looked at the shadow, which is the part of us that is suppressed, disowned, or dishonored. The Jungian tradition of  shadow work shows us how to retrieve material that has been forced (or has fallen) into the shadow. If we don’t know how to work with it, our shadow material can become quite toxic.  We can even create entire … Read More

The Shadow Knows

In the 1930s, there was an excellent radio show called The Shadow that enchanted millions of people, my father included. The Shadow was a serialized detective show, and each week, the announcer would ask in a deep baritone voice: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!“ In 1937, the young Orson Wells lent his voice to the radio show and … Read More

The Age of Empathy

Oh, here’s a great book you’ve got to read: The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society. Primatologist Frans de Waal works with our cousins, the great apes, and has been able to identify empathy and emotional awareness in very helpful ways. Dr. de Waal sees empathy as an inheritance from our ancestors (primate and otherwise), and he sees empathy as the organizing center … 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

Intuition is what?

People are very interested in increasing their intuition, and there’s a fascinatingly mistaken idea about intuition in many circles, which is that intuition has nothing to do with thoughts or emotions — that it comes from another place altogether. In point of fact, intuition isn’t otherworldly or extrasensory; it’s clearly an empathic skill that we all possess, and it comes directly from our emotions. In my … 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

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

I spent a great deal of my life dealing with depression, and I learned amazing things about it. But one reason that I learned so much is that I tried to manage my depression without competent help. I grew up in the alternative medicine community, and I didn’t have access to mental health care. I have early-onset double depression (major depression and dysthymia), and I managed … Read More

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