Dr Judith Orloff's Blog

How to Cut an Unhealthy Bond with Someone

 
Judith Orloff - Tuesday, July 04, 2017
 

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff's "The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People,” a guidebook for empaths and all caring people who want to keep their hearts open in an often-insensitive world.


Many of us instinctively want to take away another person’s pain, especially a loved one, but that can be unhealthy for those who soak up their negative energy.

I’ve learned to be present for my patients but not shoulder their discomfort. Since I frequently give workshops and speak in front of hundreds of people at a time, it’s essential that I ground and protect myself. Then I won’t absorb the suffering of the participants (suffering is present in all humans), which is amplified in large groups. This allows me to do the teaching I love and not get worn out by excessive stimulation.

One strategy I teach my patients and workshop participants to help them maintain healthy relationships is a cord cutting visualization technique. My patient, Terry, realized she had been absorbing her mother’s anxiety since childhood. She has a big heart and was unconsciously taking on her loved one’s emotions. However, once Terry became aware of this dynamic, I taught her to set boundaries by visualizing cutting an energetic cord between herself and her mother’s anxiety. This technique from my book, The Empath’s Survival Guide allowed Terry to create a healthy boundary and still remain a caring daughter.

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4 Reasons Why People Become Empaths: From Trauma to Genetics

 
Judith Orloff - Wednesday, June 21, 2017
 

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff's "The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People,” a guidebook for empaths and all caring people who want to keep their hearts open in an often-insensitive world.


Why do people become empaths? Is it temperament? Genetics? Trauma? Neglectful or supportive parental upbringing? As a psychiatrist and an empath, I’ve seen that the following four main factors (which I expand upon in my book The Empath’s Survival Guide) can contribute to heightening one's sensitivities.

Reason 1. Temperament. Some babies enter the world with more sensitivity than others—an inborn temperament. You can see it when they come out of the womb. They’re much more responsive to light, smells, touch, movement, temperature, and sound. These infants seem to be empaths from the start.

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The Difference Between Empaths and Highly Sensitive People

 
Judith Orloff - Friday, June 02, 2017
 

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff's "The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People,” a guidebook for empaths and all caring people who want to keep their hearts open in an often-insensitive world.


As a psychiatrist and an empath, I often get asked, “What is the difference between empaths and highly sensitive people?” In The Empath’s Survival Guide I devote a section on this important distinction.

Here are the similarities and differences. Empaths share all the traits of what Dr. Elaine Aron has called “Highly Sensitive People,” or HSPs. These include a low threshold for stimulation, the need for alone time, sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, plus an aversion to large groups. It also takes highly sensitive people longer to wind down after a busy day since their system’s ability to transition from high stimulation to being quiet is slower. Highly sensitive people are typically introverts whereas empaths can be introverts or extroverts, (though most are introverts). Empaths share a highly sensitive person’s love of nature, quiet environments, desire to help others, and a rich inner life.

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10 Secrets of Loving an Empath

 
Judith Orloff - Friday, May 26, 2017
 

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff's "The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People,” a guidebook for empaths and all caring people who want to keep their hearts open in an often-insensitive world.


Empaths often have special challenges in intimate relationships because of their intense sensitivities. Intimacy stretches our hearts so that we can become more loving, open people who will honestly express our needs. To flourish in intimate relationships, we must learn to authentically communicate and set clear boundaries for us to feel at ease and not get overloaded.

The right love relationship empowers empaths. Being valued and adored makes us more grounded. When empaths have an emotionally available partner who honors their sensitivities, they feel secure and supported.us.

Empaths have issues to resolve in relationships no matter how good the match. If you’re embarking on or have been in a long-term relationship, here are some points to discuss with your partner about how to love an empath. The following are common challenges and adjustments necessary to create successful relationships.

10 Strategies to Love an Empath from The Empath’s Survival Guide

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Raising Empathic Children

 
Judith Orloff - Friday, May 26, 2017
 

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff's "The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People,” a guidebook for empaths and all caring people who want to keep their hearts open in an often-insensitive world.


Empathic children have nervous systems which react more quickly and strongly to external stimuli including stress. Sometimes they feel too much but don’t know how to manage the sensory overload. They see more, hear more, smell more, intuit more, and experience emotions more. For instance, they may not like strong food smells in the kitchen, perfumes, harsh bright lights (particularly florescent bulbs), or loud talking. They prefer soft (not scratchy) clothes, beauty, nature, and having one or a few close friends rather than many acquaintances. Their sensitivities can get assaulted by our coarse world, and this affects their behavior. Since most empathic children can’t articulate the cause of their upset, enlightened parents can help them identify triggers and offer the solutions that I discuss in my book, The Empath's Survival Guide.

As parents, you need to know what overstimulates your empathic children and avoid those activities. Doing so calms them and wards off exhaustion, tantrums, and anxiety. Common triggers include: excessive busy-ness such as overscheduling their day without breaks, multi-tasking, no alone time, and violent television programs or newscasts especially at night. Following exposure to any of these factors, children might find it harder to fall asleep and require more down time before bed to unwind. (Sensitive children may take longer to calm down at night than other children since their systems are slower to transition from stimulation to quiet). Also empathic children can feel and absorb other people’s emotional discomfort, especially from parents and close friends. Because they are “super-responders” their hurts cut deep and their joys are extra-joyous.

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