We can think of many causes for our shift from warm posture to a cold and domineering posture, like the behavior of the child or person, the workload we feel, tiredness, etc.

These are indeed causes, but the actual cause of our shift is the shift of our emotions from warm to cold.

In an interaction with other we always have different kind of feelings and emotions, without being aware of it. The most important feelings are:

Warm feelings/emotions        Cold feelings / emotions       


Love / compassion

Irritation / anger

Insecurity / fear




We use the connotation ‘warm’ and ‘cold’ because these emotions are in line with the warm and cold posture. Warm feelings lead to a warm posture and cold feelings lead to a cold posture. (Cold feelings doesn’t mean that you actually feel cold. On the contrary, you can feel rather hot when you are angry!).

There is no use to judge over these feelings. They are neither good nor bad; they are just there. But for a specific reason, warm feelings are better than cold. Warm feelings give us energy and satisfaction, and help us develop a good relationship with a person which is the essence of Gentle Teaching. Also scientific research has shown that the warm feelings and the corresponding warm attitude towards others, is good for our mental and physical health. (you can read more about this in the book Love 2.0 by Barbarra Fredrickson).



Joy is an intense emotion a person can evoke in you, for instance by his humor, the twinkling in his eyes, his pleasure in helping you or others, the pride when he has accomplished something difficult, the pleasure when he is playing, etc. You can also feel joy when you can smile about a behavior that is usually seen as disturbing by people.


Love / compassion

Love or compassion is the feeling that you really want to help someone, because you see that he or she is troubled; when you someone who isn’t happy, and you want to do whatever you can to make the person happier.

Compassion is sometimes explained as a combination of three elements:

The empathy to feel what the other person feels; to feel the suffering of others

The knowledge that the person wants to be happy and has equal right to be happy as anyone else

The decision to do whatever you can to make the person happy and relief the suffering

Compassion is always in you, but it can only arise when you open yourself and make real contact with the other person, and if you allow yourself to see the suffering.

In caregiving it’s often said that you shouldn’t go into such a personal relationship, because it can make your work to heavy. The opposite is true. By not connecting with the person we cannot use the energy of compassion and feel the satisfaction it gives us. And even if we try to deny the suffering, it is still there and it is present in the energy field between you and the person you serve.



Most caregivers don’t like Bill very much. They find no joy in being with him. They often find him ‘negative’ and are irritated by his behavior. Actually this behavior isn’t so bad. So now and then he makes a short shrilling sound of 1 or 2 seconds. Only ‘now and then’ sometimes feels like very often, and then it starts irritating. Especially when Bill feels unsafe, he can continue for quite some time.


The caregivers don’t only find this sound troublesome for themselves, but also for the other persons who live with Bill. And whatever they say to Bill; it won’t help. The only solution is to correct him with a very loud and stern voice or send him to his room so he won’t trouble the others for a while.


It’s clear that the caregivers are irritated, and even that they feel some aversion towards Bill. Bill will feel this and it will only increase his fears and insecurity, and with that also his shrilling. Also the strong verbal correction will only make him more insecure. At the most, he is only for a moment out of his inner turmoil. But it will continue soon after.


Feeling compassion for the other persons who are troubled by the shrilling of Bill of course is good. But if it turn into the feeling of helplessness that you can’t prevent the shrilling, it also turns into irritation and aversion towards Bill. Then compassion won’t lead into a positive solution for all and the warm energy of compassion is transformed into cold energy of irritation and aversion.

Irritation / anger

We usually find it hard to admit when we are irritated or angry, but it happens more than we want, and more than is good for the people we serve. Irritation and anger have a different energy level, but they are of the same kind of energy. It are feelings that are activated when we get disturbed by the behavior of others. For instance when they don’t listen to us, harm us or others, distract us from our work, etc.

We may feel strong when we are angry or when we act angry, but actually this emotions only costs us a lot of energy.


Insecurity / fear

Also insecurity and fear are in line with each other. It are feelings that can take away the ground under your feet. Of course it is normal that once in a while you don’t know what to do. Not knowing is no problem. But when you can’t accept this, it will reflect on how you see yourself and then not knowing becomes feeling insecure.

Fear as such is a good emotion. It’s warning signal that something harmful can happen to you. But if your fear determines your behavior, it isn’t always very helpful. You may do things which – perhaps on the long term – only increase the problems between you and the person you serve.

So let fear be a good advisor, but not more than that. Keep control over your fear and your actions. And don’t let fear take away all your energy.


Also helplessness is an awkward emotion which may even be the most energy absorbing one. It’s also an emotion that most hard to accept. Helplessness means that you want to change a person or something, or you want to prevent harmful situations, and no matter what you try, you don’t succeed. Actually it means that you over-estimate your own capacities and you ask too much of yourself.

Feelings of helplessness are increased when circumstances are against you; when you have a heavy workload, too many people to serve at the same time, when you are tired or when you have too much to worry about.

Helplessness can also be caused when you find it hard to face the suffering of others. Normally seeing the suffering of others will evoke your feeling of compassion. But if you really feel that you have to be able to solve all the suffering, you give yourself a hard time. Then compassion turns into helplessness, or suffering together. This is not what we want. Daring to look at the suffering of others also implies that you can accept that we cannot solve all suffering. Suffering is part of life.



The last energy-absorbing emotion is aversion. Just that you dislike a person. Of course you don’t have to like every person, not even every person you serve. But is you always work with a few persons you do not like, you work is less rewarding than when you only work with people you do like.

It’s up to you what you want.

Aversion you get by looking mainly at ‘negative’ aspects of a person. If you look more at his positive qualities, your dislike of the person will decrease. And if you don’t see any positive qualities, ask colleagues or relatives of the person. It’s good to remember that like or dislike has nothing to do with a person. I might like a person, while you dislike the same person. So what does this say about the person? Is he likable or not? So if you feel aversion, there is no need to change the person; just change your owe perspective.


Working with your emotions

Warm emotions give energy and satisfaction and help you develop companionship with the people you serve. Cold emotions cost energy, are frustrating and hinder the development of companionship.

Enough reason to try to get rid of cold emotions and get more warm emotions. In the next section with practices you can find out how to achieve this.