By Kristen Manieri

The Genius of Anxiety with Karla McLaren

This week, I welcomed back Karla McLaren, who joined me in my first season of this podcast for episode 10 titled, “Emotions as Allies.” I definitely suggest you give that a listen.

Karla McLaren, M.Ed. is an award-winning author, social science researcher and empathy pioneer. Her lifelong work focuses on befriending emotions, even the most “negative” emotions, so that we can begin to open new pathways into self-awareness, effective communication and healthy empathy.

Author Q&A

Karla is going to be back on August 13 at 1pm EST for a LIVE Author Q&A. She’s is going to spend an entire hour answering our questions about her book, Embracing Anxiety. It’s free and open for anyone to register. So, pick up a copy of her book and join us. Learn more here.

Her new book is Embracing Anxiety: How to Access the Genius of This Vital Emotion. Through it, Karla aims to have us see that anxiety is not a problem. In fact, it’s an essential source of foresight, intuition, and energy. The trouble is, we’ve been trained to try to get rid of the emotions, rather than really sit with them. But when we can bring mindfulness to the emotional mind and body, we gain so many insights, including creative ways to move forward.


Karla believes that we can learn to work in concert with our emotions. Most of us are taught to manage and suppress them, but as you will hear, emotions are a crucial and vital part of everything we do. And if we don’t understand and tune into them, then we are not in the drivers’ seat of our lives.


What a treat it was to have Karla McLaren back again. You can learn more about all of her books and where to buy them at karlamclaren.com.

  1. Karla has a unique reframe on anxiety, which is that anxiety is our task completion expert. It helps us identify problems and opportunities and gives us the energy and gumption to handle them and to focus. But when we have given ourselves too much to do, if we have overextended ourselves, then we’re going to get too much anxiety. We might see that the problem isn’t the anxiety, it’s that we’ve given ourselves too much to do.
  2. When there’s a problem, there’s always an emotion there, too. We’ve been trained to try to get rid of the emotions, rather than address the problem. If we befriend anxiety and really look at what we have on our plate, we can start being more discerning about what we say yes to and what changes we may need to make.
  3. In Karla’s book, she has identified that there are nine emotions that like to travel alongside anxiety. When we start to put language to what we are actually feeling, we can learn to welcome emotions—especially when there is more than one and we’re feeling destabilized. But emotions come to help us deal with problems; they are not the problem.
  4. Conscious questioning offers us an opportunity to sit with our anxiety. If we can ask, “why are you here?” with a sense of curiosity and searching, we can start to see what the emotion of anxiety needs us to do. When we can see that anxiety often comes to serve, we can respond with “how can I help”?
  5. Emotions are a crucial and vital part of everything we do. And if we do not understand emotions, we are not in the drivers’ seat of our lives. Get to know them and you get to know yourself.


A big thanks to Karla for being here today. I’m so excited to have her back for the Author Q&A.

And thanks you for tuning in, too.

See you next time on 60 Mindful Minutes!

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