All posts filed under: Empathic Intelligence In Practice

A Deep Commitment to Change

Accessing Your Empathic Intelligence to Transform Personal, Organizational and Social Systems. All living things possess the capacity to sense into their environment and respond in ways that place the individual in alignment with the health and well-being of the whole. This is true for all variety of life and at every scale: cell, organism, species, bioregion, and planet. We suffer when this capacity is disrupted. Every reader of this text is acutely aware of the disruption we are experiencing globally at this time. Yes, the causes are varied and complex. However, the heart of the problem is the fact that we – the animals with the most power to impact the earth – have lost connection with our natural ability to perceive, interpret and respond to subtle (and not so subtle) messages in our environment. When you regain the capacity of your empathic intelligence, the complex, invisible of web connections and relationships that hold old systems in place becomes revealed, allowing the establishment of new connections that nourish and support wholeness. And, because your empathic …

Purpose Driven? Pleasure Driven!

I have been actively working for social change since 1991, when I started facilitating intergroup dialogue as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. My work has evolved today with the powerful practice of systemic constellations. After all this time, I certainly understand how easy it is to feel disturbed at the state of our society and of the planet. But I have such a deep knowing not only of our collective capacity, but also of the tremendous earth and spiritual resources available to us. With this knowing, I cannot despair. I also know that I can best be of service when I am present and open, when I allow my spirit and emotions to respond authentically to what arises, and when I work from my intuition as well as my intellect. Taking all of this into account, I find that when an individual or group presents a challenge their heart aches to resolve – I feel JOY! Yes, joy! Because I KNOW that we will enter that challenge and come through the journey with …

Rage, Grief and Activism

The Constellation I was one of a small group of facilitators invited to do a systemic constellation around racism. The facilitator, Judy Wallace, asked us to generate a list of what should be represented. With the group size we had, we decided on White Power, Black Bodies, Child, Earth, Poor White Person. I was the one who named “black bodies”. It came out of a recognition that had been stirring for months – that the painful legacy of slavery and racism from its origins through today is defined by the dehumanizing practice of simultaneously valuing and fearing black bodies, but which in my experience was rarely spoken of. Representing black bodies, I found myself circling the center of the room, while white power stood just outside my circle. White power had a calm but piercing attention on the other white people in the room. Both white child and poor white person were not eager to align with white power, though white power was happy to include them in his power.  As I circled the room, I felt numb, moving …

A Truth and a Lie

“Help! I need an emergency consultation!” The person calling is a wise and thoughtful leader in her organization. She explained that she was amidst end of year fundraising, and scheduling meetings to review her organization’s performance and direction. But the reason for her call was that she was angry, and she couldn’t get over it. She had been meditating daily and taking long walks in the woods. She was reflecting on her own mistakes and how to improve, she was empathizing with her colleagues and how they experienced the year. Yet every morning, she would wake with a rising anger at two of her closest colleagues. Several months earlier, disagreements and misunderstandings had created a painful rift that continued to deepen. She called me wanting help, because she knew that she would not be able to address the larger needs and mission of her organization if this conflict continued. Hidden dynamics. People come to me because the work I do as a systemic constellations facilitator reveals the unseen dynamics driving our conflicts. These dynamics are …

The First Time: Awe

My work in empathic intelligence and sharing it with educators and changemakers is rooted firmly in a healing / therapeutic modality called Family Constellations. Below you will find the story of my first FC workshop. And if you would like to learn a version of this process designed specifically for teachers and facilitators, check out my course: Introduction to the Empathic Seminar. February 18, 2012 – Hampden, CT I showed up at the workshop with a combination of butterflies in my stomach and a heaviness in my chest. The butterflies were excitement, but the heaviness in my chest was less clear to me. I had done a little research, so I had a general idea of what to expect: we would be chosen to represent members of a person’s family system. However, this basic description information of the process revealed nothing of what I was about to experience. A man took the chair next to the facilitator. He described his issue: He had a confusing relationship with his mentor, a man he had great admiration …

Debriefing the Field Test

In the last post I described an Empathic Seminar about the “N-Word”. In this post, I’ll debrief the experience and address some common questions. What happened in the “N-Word” exercise? We created a constellation of the system by identifying three points in the system: “Black Person,” “White Person,” and “N-word”. Three people stood in the center of the room and represented each of those nodes. Then, they just reported what they noticed. That’s it! Where did the information come from? Were the participants role playing? What we discover when we step into the system in this way is that the system creates a field of information that we perceive as physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts. It’s not role-playing. I guide the participants to attend to their felt-sense (Key #2), and if we start talking too much, I cue folks to drop back into their bodies. To help participants build confidence in the work, I often work blind – that is, I do not tell the representatives what they are representing until  after we experience into the system. This way, they can have their …

The Fourth Key: Field Testing

In today’s post, you will read about an Empathic Seminar I introduced at a school in Bronx, NY.  This is a firsthand account of the Fourth Key to Unlocking Your Empathic Intelligence: Field Testing. I further debrief this exercise in my final post. “I want to know why my students use the N-word with each other. Don’t they understand the history of that word?” The questioner was an older African-American teacher from the Bronx. He said he grew up in Virginia, and he would never think of using that word. Immediately, I noticed bodies shifting in preparation for the discussion. But I reminded the group that our work this day was not to use our analytic capacity but our empathic capacity to explore this question.   “Every question contains a whole system of relationships. What are the core elements of this question?” I asked. After a brief discussion, we decided upon three elements, “Black Person”, “White Person” and “The N-Word,” and that they needed to be examined in two time contexts – 19th-century slavery and 21st-century …