What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You

    —
June 12, 2023

Though I’m fairly certain you’ve heard otherwise, emotions are a vital part of everything you are: every thought, every choice, every relationship, every dream, every failure, every triumph, every act of violence, and every act of love. When you can learn their language, you can change your life for the better.

And when we can all learn their language, we can change the world.

Hello! I’m Karla McLaren, and I’m excited to announce the upcoming release of the revised and updated edition of The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You, which will be available in bookstores on June 27th.

Whether you’re a reader of the original Language of Emotions, or if you’re new to this work, I welcome you to this complete guide to the wisdom in every emotion you have.

The original 2010 version of The Language of Emotions was the first book to approach the emotions in terms of how they function, what they do, and how to work with them. Instead of treating emotions as problems to be solved or eradicated, I focused on them as essential aspects of meaning-making, behavior, and intelligence (which is what they truly are). I approached the emotional realm as an intelligent system that requires all of its members, including tragically disrespected emotions such as shame, anxiety, depression, jealousy, envy, panic, and the suicidal urge (among others). And in so doing, I discovered the healing messages inside all emotions.

But because most of us have been taught to distrust emotions, I was working without a net as I wrote the original version of this book, and I missed some things. Now, after more than a decade of further research and practice, and with the support and camaraderie of an international community of colleagues and friends, I’ve had the opportunity to understand the emotions more deeply.

For centuries, emotions have been repressed, idealized, distrusted, and even despised, yet they were never truly understood. I’m honored to share this updated celebration of the brilliance, ingenuity, healing power, and jaw-dropping genius of our emotions.

 

Welcome!

Karla McLaren, M.Ed.

Karla McLaren, M.Ed., is an award-winning author, social science researcher, and empathy innovator. She is CEO of Emotion Dynamics Inc., developer of Dynamic Emotional Integration®, and creator of EmpathyAcademy.org. Karla is the author of Embracing Anxiety, The Dynamic Emotional Integration Workbook, The Art of Empathy, The Power of Emotions at Work, and the multimedia online course Emotional Flow: Becoming Fluent in the Language of Emotions. For more, visit karlamclaren.com.

Karla McLaren

Karla McLaren, M.Ed., is an award-winning author, social science researcher, and empathy innovator. She is CEO of Emotion Dynamics, developer of Dynamic Emotional Integration®, and creator of EmpathyAcademy.org. Karla is the author of Embracing AnxietyThe Dynamic Emotional Integration WorkbookThe Art of EmpathyThe Power of Emotions at Work, and the multimedia online course Emotional Flow: Becoming Fluent in the Language of Emotions. For more, visit karlamclaren.com.

Author photo © Michael Leras

Also By Author

What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Karla McLaren, M.Ed., is an award-winning author, social science researcher, and empathy innovator. She is CEO of Emotion Dynamics Inc., developer of Dynamic Emotional Integration®, and creator of EmpathyAcademy.org. Karla is the author of Embracing Anxiety, The Dynamic Emotional Integration Workbook, The Art of Empathy, The Power of Emotions at Work, and the multimedia online course Emotional Flow: Becoming Fluent in the Language of Emotions. For more, visit karlamclaren.com.

Learn More

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Sounds True

The Power of Emotions at Work

Karla McLaren is an award-winning author, social science researcher, and renowned expert in emotions and empathy. Her work focuses on her grand unified theory of emotions, which reconsiders how we think of “negative” emotions and opens new pathways into self-awareness, communication, and empathy. With Sounds True, Karla is the author of the landmark book The Language of Emotions, a book on The Art of Empathy, and a new book called The Power of Emotions at Work: Accessing the Vital Intelligence in Your Workplace. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Karla about why the full range of emotions is necessary for us to bring forth our best thinking. They discuss the “toxic positivity bias” that has become the norm in the contemporary workplace, how this leads to widespread suffering and dysfunction, and how we can achieve an “emotionally well-regulated” workplace that works for all of us.

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.

You Might Also Enjoy

Embracing Empathy as Your Superpower

What do I do when a loved one is suffering? How do I have empathy if I’m getting a divorce or losing my job? If my family treats me unfairly? Or if I’m emotionally overwhelmed or in chronic pain?

If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, I’ve written The Genius of Empathy for you. It also includes a beautiful foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In the book, I present empathy as a healing force that helps you overcome obstacles in your life with dignity, grace, and power. As a psychiatrist and empath, I draw from my insights and present techniques from my own life and from the healing journeys of my clients, students, and readers. As I say in the book, “Empathy softens the struggle, quiets the unkind voices, and lets you befriend yourself again.”

Empathy doesn’t mean being “on call” 24 hours a day for those in need. Empaths can often wear an invisible sign that says, “I can help you.” However, if you want to heal yourself, have better relationships, and contribute to healing our tumultuous world, you must learn how to set healthy boundaries and observe, not absorb, the energy of others.

To start taking a more proactive role in how much empathy you give others at any one time, I suggest that you keep in mind the following “rights.” They will help you maintain a healthy mindset and prevent or lessen any empathy overwhelm that might arise:

  • I have the right to say a loving, positive “no” or “no, thank-you.”
  • I have the right to set limits with how long I listen to people’s problems.
  • I have the right to rest and not be always available to everyone.
  • I have the right to quiet peacefulness in my home and in my heart.

Practice: Take a Sound Break to Repair Yourself

Plan periods of quiet to recover from our noisy, fast-paced world. This helps calm your nervous system and your mind, an act of self-empathy.

It’s rejuvenating to schedule at least five minutes of quiet or, even better, complete silence for an hour or more where no one can intrude. As I do, hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your office or bedroom door. During this reset period, you’ve officially escaped from the world. You’re free of demands and noxious sounds. You may also get noise canceling earbuds to block out noise.

If too much quiet is unsettling, go for a walk in a local park or a peaceful neighborhood to decompress from excessive sound stimulation. Simply focus on putting one foot in front of the other, which is called mindful walking. Nothing to do. Nothing to be. Move slowly and refrain from talking. If thoughts come, keep refocusing on your breath, each inhalation and exhalation. Just letting life settle will regenerate your body and empathic heart.

Embracing your empathy does require courage. It can feel scary. If you’re ready to discover its healing power, I would be honored to be your guide to helping you in overcoming your fears and obstacles, and enhancing this essential skill for long-term change.

Though many of us have never met, I feel connected to you. Connection is what fuels life. While empathy is what allows you to find peace. With both, we can make sense of this world together.

Book

Learn More
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Sounds True

Digital Audio
Ignite empathy as a superpower for personal healing, deeper relationships, and more potent work in the world. New York Times bestselling author Dr. Judith Orloff draws on insights from neuroscience, psychology, and energy medicine to show us how to access our sensitivities, soothe our nervous systems, and embody our most fierce and authentic selves.

Learn More

What is Somatic Abolitionism?

Somatic Abolitionism is a living, embodied anti-racist practice, a form of culture building, and a way of being in the world. In this immersive audio workshop, Resmaa Menakem presents ten sessions of insights and body-based practices to help listeners liberate themselves—and all of us—from racialized trauma and the strictures of white-body supremacy.

Listen to the first 15 minutes of this audio program:

https://soundstrue-ha.s3.amazonaws.com/video/You-Me-Us-Racialized-Trauma-Excerpt.mp4#t=,15

This is an adapted excerpt from You, Me, Us and Racialized Trauma by Resmaa Menakem.

You, Me, Us, and Racialized Trauma

Somatic Abolitionism is a living, embodied anti-racist practice, a form of culture building, and a way of being in the world. In an immersive audio workshop, Resmaa Menakem presents ten sessions of insights and body-based practices to help listeners liberate themselves—and all of us—from racialized trauma and the strictures of white-body supremacy.

Learn More

Are You Suffering from Empathic Distress? How to Recla...

Are you exhausted, anxious, or overwhelmed? Maybe your life is challenging. Or perhaps the state of the world and others’ suffering feels unbearable. If your life is going well, but you still feel miserable, maybe you have some guilt or shame. You are not alone. You may be suffering from empathic distress.

Most of us have been taught that empathy is wholly positive and should be fostered in children and revered in adults. This idea is partly correct. The absence of empathy is clearly problematic. When the ability to sense or care about others’ feelings or pain is missing, we edge into sociopathy. However, empathy is experiencing another person’s pain as our own. In small doses and for short periods, it allows us a deeper understanding of our fellow beings. But it can also make it harder to help, because the pain is spread around, not diminished. If your friend breaks their leg and you experience genuine empathy, it might feel like your leg is broken too. This makes it harder for you to function and definitely harder for you to help them.

Empathy can make us sick, overwhelmed, and burned out.

Many people feel helpless in the face of the magnitude of suffering in the world today. It can result in what appears to be apathy at first but is actually empathic distress, which means “hurting for others while feeling unable to help.” An op-ed in the New York Times titled “That Numbness You’re Feeling? There’s a Word for It” described this phenomenon and cited some of the research I used to create the Sounds True audio course Shining Bright Without Burning Out: Spiritual Tools for Creating Healthy Energetic Boundaries in an Overconnected World.

The Research

Neuroscientists Olga Klimecki and Tania Singer identified empathy as a contributing factor to burnout, primarily but not exclusively, among healthcare workers and therapists. The older term compassion fatigue is a “misnomer.” Compassion and empathy have distinctly different impacts on our bodies and psyches. Compassion is witnessing and being willing to help when possible and appropriate. Empathy is taking on others’ pain as our own. Empathy often creates “more distress.” It is a huge distinction.

Empathy is overrated and fatiguing. Compassion is what we need. Unfortunately, we often confuse the two. This dynamic is one reason why developing healthy energetic boundaries is essential.

Decreasing Empathic Distress

Being unable to adjust between compassion and empathy is a big reason many people feel drained and overwhelmed. Research about the critical difference between compassion and empathy aligns with many spiritual concepts of energetic boundaries. It also challenges some. One of the ways we inadvertently make things difficult for ourselves is when we believe that to be good, kind, “spiritual” people, we must always be wide open. We must be at one with the universe, be open to everyone, and say yes to everything. There is a paradox here. We are all one on some level, but we need to embrace the ability to differentiate ourselves from others at times to steward our own health.

We have reached a tipping point with empathic distress; it is a crisis within the crises.

Klimecki and Singer focus on how training in compassion meditation can help reduce empathic distress, shifting from an experience of absorbing others’ energy to a state of kindness toward others with clear self-differentiation. The distinction between empathy and compassion is one of the first things we cover in Shining Bright Without Burning Out: Spiritual Tools for Creating Healthy Energetic Boundaries in an Overconnected World. The course also includes a full set of tools for addressing empathic distress from the perspective of energetic boundaries.

Here are a few additional steps you can take today to begin reducing empathic distress:

  1. Be clear about your direct responsibilities and what is not yours.
  2. Pause before entering new situations: conversations, appointments with clients, meetings, etc. Take a moment to reset yourself with a breath and an intention for how you want to engage.
  3. Pay attention to how you feel after interactions with people, places, and media. Note over time when your mood or body feels drained so that you can prepare more thoroughly in the future, consider how to minimize those interactions if they are optional, and take time to reset after engaging.

 

Mara Bishop

Mara Bishop is a shamanic practitioner, intuitive consultant, teacher, author, and artist. In private practice, she uses her Personal Evolution Counseling™ method to provide an integrated approach to spiritual healing, personal growth, and emotional well-being. Her books Shamanism for Every Day: 365 Journeys and Inner Divinity: Crafting Your Life with Sacred Intelligence are resource guides for spiritual practice. She resides in Durham, North Carolina. For more, visit wholespirit.com.

Learn More
Sounds True

>
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap