Can you feel something if you don’t have a word for it? When you don’t have language for something, you tend to have trouble understanding it. Because our culture doesn’t have an expansive emotional vocabulary, we end up having issues articulating our emotions and being able to identify and work with how we feel.
In this episode which originally aired in 2014, Karla McLaren and I discuss empathy and how to develop the language and skills to be able to use empathy effectively in your life. Karla McLaren is an award-winning author, researcher, and pioneering educator whose empathic approach to emotions revalues even the most “negative” emotions, and opens startling new pathways into the depths of the soul. She is the author of The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill (2013), and The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You (2010).
A foundational part of empathy is “emotion contagion.” While it sounds like a scary thing, we love emotion contagion in the form of entertainment. We pay to have emotional contagion when we go to the movies or the theater, and this is evidence that we are able to experience the emotions of others.
Another basis of being empathic is our own capacity to work with emotion in ourselves. The problem is, many of us have trained ourselves to disconnect from emotions that are difficult to process. If we can learn how to respond to those emotions, our capacity for empathy opens up.
As you listen in and learn more about empathy, remember that you are experiencing small moments of empathy all of the time. Misunderstandings about emotions can make it seem inaccessible but you, my friend, are already good at it.
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WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER
- Why it’s hard to work with emotions that you don’t have language for
- What empathy is made up of
- How emotions that are difficult to work with prevent us from being empathetic
- What “emotion contagion” is
- Why empathy looks like martyrdom in some people
- When sympathy is more appropriate than empathy
- How you can develop the skills for empathy
- Two takeaways to practice empathy in your life
RESOURCES FOR YOU
- Karla’s website
- Six Essential Aspects of Empathy
- The Art of Empathy
- The Language of Emotions
- Get my new DIY workshop: Becoming ENOUGH
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