Many creative people are highly sensitive and may also be empathic.
“Actors are specialists in empathy…” Karla McLaren, in her book The Art of Empathy.
Scarlett Johansson has noted that being a highly sensitive person or empathic can have a dark side:
“I think I was born with a great awareness of my surroundings and an awareness of other people.
“I know when I really connect with somebody… Sometimes that awareness is good, and sometimes I wish I wasn’t so sensitive.”
Read more in post: Actors and High Sensitivity.
What is healthy empathy?
What is enmeshment?
Karla McLaren explains unhealthy vulnerability:
“When people are feeling the emotions of others inside their own bodies, to the extent that they don’t actually know whose emotion it is or what they themselves are feeling, that’s not empathy. That’s enmeshment.”
She adds, “When you know who you are, when you know how to regulate your own emotions, and when you know how to soothe yourself in the presence of the emotions of others (this will help you feel healthy concern for others instead of enmeshing with them), it will be much easier to maintain your sense of self…”
Her Six Essential Aspects of Empathy model:
Concern for Others
McLaren writes, “In healthy and intentional empathy, these six aspects work together to help us understand others and make perceptive responses to their stated and unstated emotions, needs, and circumstances.
“This doesn’t have to be complex; it often happens in a split second, easily and naturally.”
From her article The difference between empathy and enmeshment.
The Amazon summary of the book by Karla McLaren says:
“What if there were a single skill that could directly and radically improve your relationships and your emotional life?
“Empathy is that skill, teaches Karla McLaren. 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.”
Her related online course:
Course description from the Sounds True site:
Awaken and Master Empathy, the Most Life-Changing of Emotional Skills
Some of us are natural-born empaths—those with an exceptional gift for feeling and understanding the emotions, circumstances, and needs of others.
But empathy, teaches Karla McLaren, is a universal human skill that we can all learn to awaken and use wisely.
Drawing on insights spanning social psychology, current brain research, and traditional healing and spiritual wisdom, this acclaimed teacher and author shows us how to:
Discover and strengthen this natural social and emotional ability
Prepare for empathy training by learning to identify and regulate our emotions and boundaries
Move into the felt experience of others with authenticity and respect
Stay rejuvenated on the empathic path through grounding, healthy boundaries, and replenishing with joy
The Art of Empathy program.
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Profile from Sounds True:
“Empath Karla McLaren is an award-winning author, social science researcher, and pioneering educator whose empathic approach to emotions has taken her through the healing of her own childhood trauma, into a healing career, and now into the study of sociology, anthropology, neurology, cognitive psychology, and education.
“Karla has taught at such venues as the University of San Francisco, Omega Institute, Naropa University, Kripalu, and the Association for Humanistic Psychology.”
Her books include: