Monthly Archives: January 2012

Good Read: The Language of Emotions

Cover image for The Language of Emotions

This is NOT an affiliate link. I am only recommending this book because I love it!

I read the most wonderful book recently, the kind that you want to tell everyone about because it’s so life-changing. It was The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You, by Karla McLaren. While I consider myself a pretty functional person these days, as soon as I started reading it I realized that I have been basically illiterate in the language of understanding and feeling my own emotions.

An example of an emotion with its gifts and practice

An example of an emotion with its gifts and practice

The basic premise of the book is that each emotion, even the painful ones, actually has a purpose and a useful function. Each one brings a message, gifts and challenges, and she suggests practices to help make the most of these.

The most surprising part for me was that healthy anger actually has a vital purpose. It helps to set healthy boundaries and differentiation between oneself and other people. Of course this means anger when it is felt and managed in a healthy way, not spouted off indiscriminately at whatever unfortunate person you happen to be with.

A couple more great points I found really helpful:

Emotions are meant to run a fluid course, rather than being repressed or stuck for  days or years. I have heard from a few sources that a free, unobstructed emotion will typically run its course in 90 seconds or so. I’ve tried this out & I can tell you it’s a huge improvement over fighting with it for days on end.

All emotions are true. The reason you are upset or angry may be a story that is not true, but the emotion you are feeling is true for you in that moment. Honor your emotions and give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling (emphasis here on feel, not act impulsively).

Words like unhappiness or depression are frequently used as catch-all terms for a huge variety of emotions, anxieties, issues etc. By digging a little deeper into the feelings underneath we can uncover some amazing insight.

I could go on for pages more about this. I did have a chance to speak with author Karla McLaren (she offers consultations by phone), and she was just as insightful and wonderfully hilarious in real time. I hope that you will consider checking out this amazing book.

Empathically yours!



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Remembering the Importance of Rest

Hey everybody!

Sorry it’s  been so long since my last post. I’m living a double life these days between my day job and completing coach training. I was balancing it pretty well until unexpected work events last month swept me up like a flash flood. I received a theoretical promotion (a pep talk followed by more work & responsibility, but no money or title change), and went on a two-week business trip right before Christmas. Plus, I will be going back to New York on Sunday for another two weeks!

My two dogs, champion loungers in action

My two dogs, champion loungers in action

So, I decided to take vacation for this in-between week. I intended to spend it doing a vigorous house cleaning and reorganization, getting everything in tip-top shape for the New Year. You know, get caught up on all those projects around the house that are accumulating. Get my Martha Stewart on.

But instead, when I came home last Friday night I flopped into bed exhausted; and to my surprise, I stayed there all weekend. Sure, I did the bare minimum I needed to to sustain life. But the closets went uncleaned, the walls unscrubbed, the junk piles unchallenged.  Not only did I not do these chores, I couldn’t even find the energy to CARE about them anymore.

Martha Stewart would NOT approve.

I realize now I was so swept up in frenetic activity this last month that I didn’t notice how depleted I was getting. Today, on the third full day i’ve spent resting, I’ve actually started to feel my normal self returning. I feel like doing things again, instead of laying around like a gelatinous mass. Tomorrow i’ll probably even get started on my chore list.

My cat Trooper would make a great sleep coach

My cat Trooper would make a great sleep coach

Luckily (and with perfect timing for me), my coaching mentor Martha Beck recently posted this short quotation from her new book on Facebook. I watched as the post spread from profile to profile like wildfire, & remembered thinking it must have really struck a chord as something we needed to hear. This was of course right before my own exhaustion hit me like a truck from behind:

The next time you’re worn out, don’t tell yourself to pep up. Do what your body and brain want: surrender to the weariness. Breathe into it.

For this new year I hope you will give yourself the same permission: to recognize when you are worn out–physically, emotionally or mentally–and allow yourself the rest that you need.

And happy New Year!


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