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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You
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73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is tremendous and at times excruciatingly insightful. The author has a fantastic understanding of emotions and healing and is able to articulate it in an easy to read from with concrete examples. The truth just pours from the pages--gives me goosebumps.

Before I had read this book, I had the experience of "going into the emotion"--just feeling it for what it was--not analyzing, etc. It is absolutely true that when you do that, and leave out the story--that the emotion quickly dissipates. I had not thought of it as giving me energy and life force--but after reading this book--perhaps that is exactly what it is. My personal experience in dealing with transforming emotions has been very powerful--and this book gives the reader instructions to do that very easily. Of course, you have to be willing---sometimes when I am angry I don't necessarily want to give up the story or move on from the anger. But repressing that feeling--or any feeling leads to disease--so it is especially great for me to have a book that can kind of prod me to move on and deal with any feeling in a healthy way.

I thought the sections and breakdown of each emotion was insightful. The author lets you know what gifts that emotion can bring. She also articulates what power comes from that emotion. And lets you know what being stuck in that emotion can do to you. Her description of each one was exactly the same as my experiences. The difference is that she has been able to put it into a great teachable format and I have not.

There are many self-help books out there in the world. I find that a lot of books have some good and a lot not so good. Or that the book promises a lot but doesn't really have the substance to deliver. This book is absolutely fabulous--it has the substance and the entire book is excellent. I would have this on a short list--in the top 5 if not top 3 of self-help books to read.

I also have this audio series. It is great to have the audible version--however, i personally have found that I prefer the book to the audible version as it is easier for me to reference. I do love the audio version for on the go.

This book is not for the faint hearted or for someone who wishes that someone could raise a magic wand and fix them. It won't make the work easy--but it gives you a clear path and proper guidance on how to do the work.

The author is also very responsible in letting the reader know that not everyone is best suited to do the work alone--and directs readers to therapists/support groups to aid in their discovery. Being a mental health professional I appreciate that as it is acknowledging that this work can be very powerful and sometimes it is good to have a person to work with.

I anticipate that this will be a book I will turn to again and again--both for personal and professional reference.

BRAVO to the author!!!!
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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I do processed oriented hypnosis with clients and was happy to get this book from the Amazon review program to check out. I have read a lot of books on hypnosis, on emotions, and self-help books in general. Suggestive hypnotic technique tends to only have an effect for about 3 months (for instance, a well placed suggestion to end cigarette smoking seems to stop working after about 3 months). Many methods simply do not go deep enough to shift a person in a relatively permanent way. This book is by an author who has discovered some methods very similar to what I have found to work for me and my clients. It is more based on meditation than trying to superficially fix something in a person. It looks to how we relate to our emotional life and how to heal our way of disassociating and distracting ourselves from how we feel. It helps a person form a healthy relationship with his or her emotional life. It affirms the validity of all our emotional feelings and how to be present to our emotional life. It gives a lot of examples about what each emotion means and what each emotion wants to give to us. Because it similar to what I have been doing, I found a lot of exercises and thoughts useful for refining my technique a little further. It requires the client to learn how to stay in touch with his or her emotions, to be present with them, and to be responsible to them (an important theme). One warning: This book is very thick and does not waste words. It could be a training manual, though it reads more poetically and personally than the usual kind. I consider this one to be the best book on emotions yet that I have read. It would be very useful for anyone, but seems ideal for someone working with others.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Very well written. No doubt you will see bits and pieces of your own psyche, as well as those of friends and loved ones. If you must learn more about emotions.....this is the most complete out there. Highly recommended. I purchased multiple copies of this for family members. Maybe will buy another for my best friend. There's nothing to dislike about this book. People don't know how to deal with emotions. The author tackles them head-on.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 2, 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I saw the comment about this book by Gavin de Becker, I was intrigued. His book, The Gift of Fear, is one of the books I most recommend to others. He said, "This book changed the way I relate to others, and to myself, forever."

I've read a LOT of self-help books (and wrote one), and this is one of the most original I've ever come across. I usually prefer books by scientists like Martin Seligman or John Gottman, but there isn't much in the way of research or studies in The Language of Emotions. The author, Karla McLaren, is not anti-science, but this book is very personal and her expertise is personal. The material is refreshing and makes sense, but you won't get a lot of "proof" other than your own experience, which sometimes is enough.

In this book, McLaren is presenting a new way of understanding how the emotions you feel today can bring you wisdom and understanding (if approached in the right way). She asks you to see your emotions as "specific and brilliant messengers," and she shows you how to do it.

The way we normally think of emotions is wrong, says McLaren. There are no "good" emotions or "bad" emotions. All emotions are valueable and necessary and can help us, and she is not referring to any kind of positive thinking here or trying to transform "negative emotions" into "positive emotions." She's talking about something more authentic and profound. This is a very different way of thinking about emotions; considering that they have skills, functions, gifts. Each emotion has a different purpose.

The first part of the book explains all this and how McLaren came to her conclusions. The last part of the book gives you instructions and examples of applying these ideas to specific emotions, one emotion per chapter. If you'd like to raise your "emotional intelligence" or deal with your emotions more capably and responsibly, I recommend this book.
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60 of 75 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon January 13, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In the first part of the book the author goes on about her wonderful family and then quickly we hear about abuse she suffered from a neighbor. I find it amazing to imagine how a "wonderful" family can be oblivious of a child's abuse...I guess they just thought she was weird, or they were horribly naive.
Later the author talks of her intuitive nature and how she is an empath. Though this is oft repeated, I guess I never quite felt she described what this is and why it makes her uniquely qualified to write this book.

In the chapter on balance right after she describes the elements of our nature,she then gives us a description on what we should do to balance ourselves. Quite frankly this was useless.
At least with a Myer-Brigg type of personality test I get a sense of what my elements are and where to start. With this, I have to guess at best and the descriptions on what to do were quite scattered and dependent on knowing what your issues were..If I knew, I wouldn't be reading this book? Later, much later these items are handled in more depth and I feel in a much more useful way. However I felt I had to slog through a lot of repetition to get there.

On the section on trauma, she made a few very good points regarding initiation. Essentially in many tribal cultures there is education, initiation and then acknowledgment. She indicated our culture does not have this process. I disagree. Though we don't equal tribal cultures, in this respect, I think there are very many minor initiations that a child passes through in our culture: Potty Training, Sitting at the big table, First day of school, Various religious based initiations, Graduation, Marriage, Funerals, etc.
Are they profound and life altering? Some are, some aren't. Ask any child that goes to kindergarten, high school or college, if their life has changed. However her point was well made that trauma is initiation done at the wrong time, by the wrong person, for the wrong reasons. This was a quote she borrowed from another psychologist. Also in trauma, there is no preparation or acknowledgement of this life-changing event, the person is left hanging and confused, not knowing what to think or get closure. However in this section as in many, the author becomes very repetitive. I felt often she was trying to say the same thing over and over again from different angles. Once really would have been enough.

I finally found some info that I think was really useful in this section. Basically the author stated that forgiveness without processing the anger for the hurt or trauma or hurt does the person more harm than good. Luckily, personally I have never been subjected to some of the profound traumas inflicted on either the author or some of the people she worked with, but being human, I have met with a reasonable number of disappointments in my life regarding others. So often you have read or have been taught in church, that you must forgive. However, I do agree as the author points out, you must first give anger it's due and only then can you forgive. To do otherwise is to further trap yourself in a loop of this trauma or disappointment. Very good point.

I have alternatively picked up and put down this book for months. I just can't slog through it any more. There are many good points. Nuggets of real value. However they are buried in volumes of repetitious prose. Also this is buried within new age descriptions of your personal nature (Air, Water, yada, yada). So when each case describes what you should do for people who's Air and Water weren't in balance (sounds like my car) you were left wondering if this is pertinent to you or not. As I noted ealier, there was no real way to quantify your nature. I have no issues with new age info (look at my other reviews), but we all need guidelines to reference ourselves, relative to significant new terms.

A suggestion to reach a broader audience. I didn't get this book to read about the author.. Limit that section. If I am to be given advice about how to bring my emotions into balance, give me a way to quantify the balance they are in first Then in relatively short order, discuss the how and why to correct each issue. I think most people would like to use this book as a combination reference as well as education on emotions, as well as a rough means of measuring where they stand and a set of corrective actions. Unfortunately, this book isn't it.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Emotions - we hide them, dismiss them, and outright ignore them. Most cultures, in varying degrees, discourage an open display of emotions in favor of a more muted mode of expression. We've all been groomed starting from an early age to subdue our emotions both inwardly and outwardly. The socially imposed codes of conduct embodied in such clichés as "maintaining a stiff upper lip" and "keeping up appearances" seem to be celebrated the world over.

In The Language of Emotions, McLaren shows that instead of suppressing our emotions, we can honor them, consciously permit them to surface, and tap into their power to give us insights into ourselves and our problems. When we fail to honor our emotions, however, they often linger. The phenomenon is very much akin to dreams recurring until they have been resolved. McLaren says our emotions are actually a bridge and a messenger between the conscious and the subconscious mind. She teaches us to be more attuned to our emotions in order to understand the message it's trying to convey to us.

She also points out that people use all kinds of distractions and addictions as a means of masking underlying emotions that remain unresolved. Indeed, many people attempt to momentarily drown out their emotions through the use of the Internet, shopping, recreational drugs, and alcohol. Here's a little food for thought: Do some of the activities you engage in stem from the attempt to distract yourself from an emotion that you really need to tune in to?

The first part of the book lays the foundation for the rest of the book. The concepts that she revisits over and over are "building a village inside you," the honoring of your quarternity (AKA the "four elements" or "quarternal" model of earth, air, water, fire), and the seven forms of intelligences (linguistic, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, emotional)

The Quarternal Model:
earth = physical world and your body
air = mental and intellectual realm
water = emotional and artistic realm
fire = visionary and spiritual realm

In the second half of the book, she applies the groundwork she has laid in the first part of the book to the different types of emotions. She devotes a chapter to each of the following emotions : Anger, Apathy and Boredom, Guilt and Shame, Hatred, Fear, Confusion, Jealousy and Envy, Panic and Terror, Sadness, Grief, Depression, Suicidal Urges, Happiness, Contentment, Joy, Stress, and Resistance.

McLaren's writing is eloquent, her writing style is unassumingly poetic, and her words are deeply affecting. Read it, ponder on the wisdom and insights it provides, and be transformed by it. However, be forewarned that The Language of Emotions is not light reading; it is not a book you can curl up on a sofa with on a lazy Saturday afternoon. But if you would take the time and effort to work your way through it, you will be lavishly rewarded. I know it has helped me immeasurably and it is without doubt a book I will re-read over and over again.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is the first book I've come across that teaches us the positive power of all of our emotions, even the negative ones. I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling with overwhelming sadness, anger, or any other emotion that has you trapped in depression. While I'm not 100% sure I agree in the author's thesis that every person has encountered traumas and each trauma can be magically cured through a rite of passage ritual. As an anthropologist myself, that seems a bit too simplistic and overarching. But I do think this book is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to understand how to work through their emotions, rather than numbing them with drugs, alcohol, food, or any other substitute.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The author believes that anger is mainly about boundary violations to a person's sense of self. "What must be protected and what must be restored" are the questions she suggests asking yourself when triggered.

Fear, as a helpful instinct, can offer a person a lot of benefits including clarity and vigor when it is accepted. The question here is, "What action needs to be taken?"

When the feeling of fear is denied or negated, unnecessary worry and/or anxiety may develop.

Confusion usually conceals fear. To uncover the instincts/intuition underneath, the question here is, "What's my intention?"

If one denies/represses healthy/clean anger, boredom and/or apathy may develop. "What must be made conscious or what am I avoiding?"

What anger is in response to an external event, guilt and/or shame is to an internal one (ie: one's internal sentry didn't protect one's inner integrity).

Hatred is related to shadow work. List the traits of someone you most dislike and then look in the mirror.

With sadness, the question is, "What must be released?" Tears release toxins from the body and rituals can help one to mourn.

"Where has my energy gone and why was it sent away" are to be asked when depression is involved.

Gratitude can lead to merriment, hope, delight, wonder, playfulness and invigoration.

Joy says, "Thank you for this radiant moment!"

When a person says that they don't know what they are feeling, it might be because they have ignored their feelings for too long. "Emotions are messages from our instinctive selves. ... If we ignore and repress an emotion, we won't erase its message - we'll just shoot the messenger and interfere with an important natural process. The unconscious then has two choices: to increase the intensity of the emotion and present it to us one more time ... or to stuff the emotional energy deep into our psyches. Now, that instinct will no longer be readable as itself - as fear or anger or despair ..." pg 31

The balance that took place with the Beatles and within Star Trek can serve as a reminder of the importance of welcoming emotions:

Ringo/Grounding - Mr Scott/Mechanics - Earth
George/thinker - Dr Spock/Intelligence - Air
John/Emotions - Dr McCoy/Feeling - Water
Paul/Leader - Capt Kirk/Vision - Fire

The popular poem, The Guest House, featured in the book, also offers an image of accepting one's inner waters:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thoughts, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

The book also includes a section on the symptoms of trauma and a few thoughts on how to create a safe village within in order to welcome yourself home.

A significant contribution in promoting the idea that it's ok to feel.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The author has gone in depth into this subject, and has come up with her own unique techniques for both respecting and handling our emotions. She tackles this subject from a unique perspective: all our emotions, even the so-called "bad" ones (anger, rage, jealousy, etc.) are valid, she states. She argues that whatever we think about these emotions, they don't go away by being ignored. She details specific methods to recognize, to work through and to handle emotions that previously might have overwhelmed us. She argues that emotions are excellent indicators of our true selves wanting to be heard, and if we can recognize what they are trying to tell us (and she helps with the decoding process), we come to a place of self-knowledge, self-control and a sense of peace that we might never have imagined possible.
She seems to come up with unique perspectives on some emotions that I have not come across before. I found it helpful in giving anger validation for me, as well as a unique insight as to its origination. I would say this book is helpful for everyone, as it is the only book I've ever seen which articulates negative emotions so well, and provides real resolution for them.
Given the author's background (sexually abused as a child), I would say that she especially speaks to those adults from a similar experiential background. I myself am one of those, and found that the sources of certain emotions (eg anger originating from a sense of my boundaries having been violated) to be very relevant to me. It was a relief, to find at last, someone with an answer as to why I can suddenly flare up in some situations. At the same time, the book provides a pathway to handling and solving this dilemma (and many others) completely. Recommend.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The author tells her story spreeding it like three quarters of the content, which doesn't add much to learn about emotions. Besides, among other things she says we're wrong many times when we think we feel guilty and it's shame instead, but doesn't explain how to differenciate it, and the book is so boring to read, boring style. Overall, there are much more better books on emotions
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