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

Four ideas that lead directly to emotional confusion

The Wonderful World of Emotions! As we study emotions empathically, we’ll look at each emotion in terms of what it does, what gifts it brings you, and how you can work with it — but before we look at emotions individually, I’d like to focus on four ideas that are widely shared, completely accepted — and absolutely problematic. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio’s ground-breaking reframing of emotions as … Read More

Welcome to The Year of Empathy!

Hello and Happy New Year! Last month, I turned in the manuscript for my new book The Art of Empathy, and it will be published in October! I’ll be posting weekly about empathy this year — about my work, about the empathy research being done in over half-a-dozen different academic disciplines, and about ways that you can work with each of the six essential aspects of … Read More

Protecting yourself from emotional abuse

Whew! The earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the seemingly endless turmoil in the Middle East and Africa, the financial crisis and the economic downturn it caused, and over the weekend, the Supermoon? That’s a lot to take in. Even without any media jacking you up, it’s a lot to take in. So here’s my suggestion: Be very mindful about what else you take in. In Buddhism, … Read More

A new practice for anxiety

Since I posted on anxiety last week, I’ve been talking to people about how they manage their own anxiety. Interestingly, my sister-in-law Janelle, who hadn’t read the post, told me about an anxiety practice she created out of some of the tools in the book. Cool! Janelle is an in-home health practitioner who works with elderly and disabled clients, and she often feels worried about them (as … 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

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

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

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