How to achieve positive energy with more volts, fewer dolts
BY Marilyn Elias
Energy: everyone wants it, but we often go looking for it in places that drain us instead, while ignoring the fountains around and inside us that can be tapped freely, says Los Angeles psychiatrist Judith Orloff.
Her new book, Positive Energy, offers "prescriptions" for finding energy in a frenetic 24/7 world.
Orloff, 52, is a serene maverick. Her two earlier books about intuition, a topic ignored by many psychiatrists, attracted national attention and drew positive reviews. A clinical faculty member at UCLA, she has a small private practice and gives frequent workships for doctors and the public on using intuition to improve health.
Positive Energy is a "let me count the ways" of how adults pour out their stores of energy without realizing it. Peppered with exercises and explicit suggestions for how to refuel, the book covers nitty-gritty issues such as work, eating, sex, computers and getting away from the human "energy vampires" around us.
Each chapter closes with personal anecdotes about energy from Orloff's interviews with such celebrities and cultural figures as Quincy Jones, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rosa Parks and Eve Ensler, creator of the Obie award-winning play The Vagina Monologues.
Orloff recent sat down to answer some questions about Positive Energy.
Q: Rushing and multi-tasking get a bad rap from you. Why?
A: Sometimes we have to rush, but it does increase production of stress hormones. The more you rush, the quicker your energy will burn out. If you're multi-tasking, you dissipate energy, you can't focus as well. The way to maximize energy is to focus on one task at a time, and give it your all.
Q: You advise taking mini technology fasts. Why?
A: Because computers are always breaking and losing things. It's frustrating! We lose a lot of time and energy with these gadgets that keep us constantly plugged in. A few days or even a few hours "unplugged" can help put us back in balance.
Q: Work energizes many people, but you caution against too much of a good thing. How do you know when it's too much?
A: Some people live lives without balance. They're exhausted and don't develop in areas outside work. I see many of these people in my practice; they have low-level anxiety all the time, and chronic health complaints like headaches and asthma. They never refuel, they go non-stop till they drop,often with a heart attack or ulcer. The rest of their life suffers for it.
Q: Marriage counselors are reporting more couples than ever with low sexual interest. Is that about energy?
A: It can be, because they're letting work and the kids take all of the energy they have. Or, sometimes couples don't talk about their fears and resentments. Negative emotions build up inside, and that douses the sexual fire.
Q: High achievers often pursue their goals ferociously, but you see a downside to that. Why?
A: When people get fixated on a particular project, and it's not meant to happen, I see them "grinding the gears" over and over but not going anywhere. It's the death grip. They wear themselves out. You have to give it your best shot and then step back. You can't control everything.
Q: You think overeating can be a destructive attempt to protect oneself from negative energy. How?
A: How many times do people see a violent newscast and then run to the refrigerator? We live with constant terror threats, and this reaction is almost a primitive instinct, a way of gaining energy to fight the threat. Instead, people can learn to get energy from exercise, meditation and other activities that give them a charge.
Q: "Fear is the biggest energy thief there is," you write, adding that successful people often try to mask their fears with anger. But it still takes a lot of energy to avoid facing one's fears. So you can't win either way?
A: The key is to replace fear with faith and belief in yourself and the power of the good. Trying to go unconscious about it won't stop you from carrying around the fear and being drained by it. Spiritual involvement can get people in touch with an energy larger than themselves, and that helps ease fear. For others, it might be taking a hike in the mountains or listening to beautiful music. However we choose to do it, we need to work through our fears and refuel our energy.
|'Energy vampires'and how to defeat them|