Search Results for: Karla McLaren

Karla McLaren:Making Friends with Anxiety … and All ...

Karla McLaren is an award-winning author, social science researcher, and empathy pioneer. Her work focuses on a “grand unified theory of emotions,” in which she moves us beyond looking at some emotions as negative and some as positive, and instead helps people see the genius that lives inside every single emotion. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Karla about managing the multiple emotions that many of us are experiencing as we navigate both a pandemic and a time of societal transformation. Tami and Karla also discuss the importance of creating a community that shares an “emotional vocabulary,” the four keys to unlocking the wisdom of our emotions, and much more.

The Art of Empathy, with Karla McLaren

We’re happy to hear that so many of you are enjoying Karla McLaren‘s wonderful new book The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill. In it, Karla describes what she refers to as the single most important skill that we have to directly and radically improve our relationships and emotional life – but one that has been quite misunderstood.

Informed by current insights from neuroscience, social psychology, and healing traditions, this book explores:

– Why empathy is not a mystical phenomenon but a natural, innate ability that we can strengthen and develop
– How to identify and regulate our emotions and boundaries
– The process of shifting into the perspective of others
– How to provide support in a sensitive and healthy way
– Insights for navigating our hyper-connected social landscape
– Targeted chapters for improving family, workplace, and intimate relationships
– Ways to expand our empathy to our community, global levels of society, and the natural world

In addition to the book, Karla has also recorded an original seven-hour audio learning course on The Art of Empathy.

Here is a short video by Karla, speaking about The Art of Empathy

The Power of Mapping Your Emotions

It’s in everyone’s best interest to learn to remove the emotional blinders and identify emotions accurately, both the uncomfortable and the upbeat ones. After all, unpleasant emotions are normal and natural, a fundamental part of being human. Emotions fluctuate on a daily basis, often several times in a given day. If you didn’t experience negative feelings now and then, the positive ones wouldn’t be as noteworthy or joyful; your emotional life would likely be unnaturally narrow. You would also be deprived of the opportunity to glean important insights into yourself. Feelings, both the good and the bad, are silent messages, alerting you to pay attention to something in your personal or professional life, in your behavior, or in the world around you.

Instead of separating emotions into categories such as good or bad, positive or negative, happy or sad, it’s better to view all your emotions as useful information, as “evolutionarily evolved responses that are uniquely appropriate to specific situations,” says Karla McLaren, MEd, author of The Language of Emotions. “When you stop valencing, you’ll learn to empathically respond to what’s actually going on—and you’ll learn how to observe emotions without demonizing them or glorifying them.”

Being able to recognize and express what you’re feeling helps you better understand yourself (leading to greater self-knowledge); validate your emotions and tend to your own emotional needs; and take steps to address those feelings directly by communicating and responding to them effectively. Having emotional self-awareness can motivate you to make healthy changes in your life, take action to improve the world around you, and become more psychologically resilient—that is, better able to cope with crises and rebound from setbacks.

Learning to Unpack Your Emotions

For some people, engaging in free association can clear the cobwebs from their minds, almost like opening the cellar door to a musty basement and letting in light and fresh air. To do this, you might take a break and consider how you’re feeling about what you’re doing, reading, seeing, or thinking every few hours throughout the day. If a general word comes to mind—such as stressed, anxious, or angry—dig deeper and ask yourself what other emotions you might be feeling (maybe fear or annoyance) along with it. If you do this out loud in unedited, private moments, you might find yourself blurting out what you’re really thinking or feeling, revealing the emotions that are taking a lot of energy to keep inside. This is really about unpacking your suitcase of feelings, or untangling the knot of emotions that is taking up space inside you.

When you think about this in the abstract, it can be hard to pinpoint how you’re feeling. You may just see a swirling mass of a feeling quality such as “dread” or “foreboding” rather than recognizing the specific emotions you feel. To get to the root of your feelings, spend five minutes looking at the word cloud below—no more than five so that you don’t have time to filter your responses—and choose the emotions that resonate with your mood-state lately.

If reviewing these words evokes other feelings for you or if words or phrases that apply to you were not on this word cloud, jot these down in the blank word cloud that follows. Give yourself another five minutes to think about your recent state of mind and jot down phrases, images, or words that occur to you. This is your opportunity to personalize it without any limits or restrictions. If you feel stymied or draw a blank initially, think about your recent responses to current events or situations in your personal life or on the world stage. Try to be as honest as you can by focusing on how you’re really feeling when no one is watching—free-associate without judging, censoring, or revising what you write down.

Once you’ve finished your list, look at the order of the words you wrote down: Did they progress from all negative to increasingly hopeful? Do they portray an internal tension or friction in going back and forth between various feelings? If all the words are positive, consider the possibility that you may be in some degree of denial, focusing only on the window dressing rather than the emotions that lie beneath the surface. Also, consider this: Is there a pattern of shallow, visceral reactions that came out initially, followed by more complex thoughts and feelings? If so, think about whether you’re giving yourself enough time in your life to reflect. If you came out with highly intellectualized words or phrases first, it might suggest that you put on a bit of a facade when engaging with the world, and you might benefit from striving for a deeper engagement or familiarity with your emotions.

This is an excerpt from Emotional Inflammation: Discover Your Triggers and Reclaim Your Equilibrium During Anxious Times by Lise Van Susteren, MD, and Stacey Colino.

Buy your copy of Emotional Inflammation at your favorite bookseller!
Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop

Self-Compassion & Self-Reflection: Recommended Re...

Exploring the Science of Self-Compassion

 

The Art of Empathy by Karla McLaren

What if there were a single skill that could directly and radically improve your relationships and your emotional life? Empathy, teaches Karla McLaren, is that skill. With The Art of Empathy, she teaches us how to perceive and feel the experiences of others with clarity and authenticity—to connect with them more deeply and effectively.

Informed by current insights from neuroscience, social psychology, and healing traditions, this book explores some of the following:

  • Why empathy is not a mystical phenomenon but a natural, innate ability that we can strengthen and develop
  • How to identify and regulate our emotions and boundaries

 

 

 

The Science of Compassion by Kelly McGonigal

Stories, dynamic meditations, and innovative writing exercises to spark creativity and spiritual awakening.

The best writers say their work comes from a source beyond the thinking mind. But how do we access that source? “We must first look inside ourselves and be willing to touch that raw emotional core at the heart of a deeper creativity,” Writes Albert Flynn DeSilver. In Writing as a Path to Awakening, this renowned poet, writer, and teacher shows you how to use meditation to cultivate true depth in your writing—so your words reveal layers of profound emotional insight and revelation that inspire and move your readers.

 

 

The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren

Emotions—especially the dark and dishonored ones—hold a tremendous amount of energy. We’ve all seen what happens when we repress or blindly express them. With The Language of Emotions, empathic counselor Karla McLaren shows you how to meet your emotions and receive their life-saving wisdom to safely move toward resolution and equilibrium. Through experiential exercises covering a full spectrum of feelings from anger, fear, and shame to jealousy, grief, joy, and more, you will discover how to work with your own and others’ emotions with fluency and expertise.

Here is a much-needed resource filled with revolutionary teachings and breakthrough skills for cultivating a new and empowering relationship with your feeling states through The Language of Emotions.

 

 

 

Awakening Compassion by Pema Chödrön

On Awakening Compassion, Pema Chödrön, one of the Western world’s best-known lojong teachers and practitioners, shows you how to use your own painful emotions as stepping stones to wisdom, compassion, and fearlessness. You will learn how to make friends with the painful parts of your life experience and how to use your natural courage and honesty to transform even the most difficult situations.

With an informal teaching style, both playful and insightful, Pema Chödrön makes this timeless way of bringing compassion into the world easy to understand and apply to your own life. More than seven hours of practical, compassionate guidance for shedding your cocoon and meeting your world with fresh appreciation. Includes a nine-page study guide with lojong slogans and additional resources.

 

 

The Force of Kindness by Sharon Salzberg

Distill the great spiritual teachings from around the world down to their most basic principles, and one thread emerges to unite them all: kindness. In The Force of Kindness, Sharon Salzberg, one of the nation’s most respected Buddhist authors and meditation teachers, offers practical instruction on how we can cultivate this essential trait within ourselves.

Through her stories, teachings, and guided meditations, Sharon Salzberg takes readers on an exploration of what kindness truly means and the simple steps to realize its effects immediately. She reveals that kindness is not the sweet, naive sentiment that many of us assume it is, but rather an immensely powerful force that can transform individual lives and ripple out, changing and improving relationships, the environment, our communities, and ultimately the world. Readers will learn specific techniques for cultivating forgiveness; turning compassion into action; practicing speech that is truthful, helpful, and loving; and much more.

The gifts of ALL emotions—including depression

Karla McLaren is an award-winning author, social science researcher, and educator whose empathic approach to emotions informs her studies of sociology, anthropology, neurology, and cognitive psychology. With Sounds True, Karla has most recently contributed to the anthology Darkness Before Dawn: Redefining the Journey Through Depression. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Karla and Tami Simon discuss depression as an essential human emotion—one that may carry important messages about what’s no longer working for you. They also talk about the questions you can ask of your emotions to determine their cause and the course of action they are asking you to take. Finally, Tami and Karla speak on the necessity of understanding and embracing the full range of human emotions—even those you deem unpleasant—in order to live a fuller, healthier life. (58 minutes)

Working with Difficult Emotions – a special free...

Many of us struggle with the experience of difficult emotions, such as anger, jealousy, sadness, grief, shame, anxiety, and depression. In the face of such challenges, how can we keep our hearts open? What is the most skillful way to work with these difficulties in a way where we remain fully embodied and radically committed to our lives as they are? Is there such a thing as a “negative” emotion? How can we most powerfully grow from the experience of difficulty and to view these challenging experiences as messengers and allies on the path of awakening and love?

We hope you enjoy this special video dialogue with Sounds True authors Karla McLaren and Robert Augustus Masters, two pioneering teachers on the healing potential of skillfully working with difficult emotions, for this inspiring dialogue, moderated by Sounds True publisher, Tami Simon.

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