Dr Judith Orloff's Blog

Surrender to the Miracle of Love

Judith Orloff - Tuesday, April 08, 2014

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(Adapted from The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life Harmony Books, 2014 by Judith Orloff MD)

In my new book, The Ecstasy of Surrender I define a soul mate as a fated romantic relationship with someone to whom you feel a special affinity. You fall in love with and support each other’s souls as well as their bodies. The relationship is never denigrating, abusive, or based on narcissism or control. When you meet, something in you awakens, even rejoices. You can finally breathe. The wait is over--you’re home again.

However, contrary to what you may think, a soul mate isn’t necessarily some ideal person who will make your life perfect or cure your loneliness. Nor do you have to always like each other or agree. But he or she will help you evolve. You’ll learn from one another. There is no deadline for a soul mate. One can arrive when you’re twenty or eighty, whenever the time is right. Sexual attraction is part of the bond though this may vary in different phases of life. Some of these relationships are incredibly smooth, whereas most have more challenges. However, with soul mates, two are stronger than one. You make each other better.

What should you look for in a soul mate? How can you know you’ve met yours? To avoid missing out on these relationships, you must let go of unrealistic expectations. Here’s a summary of some fundamental qualities that define what a soul mate is and isn’t. Though the intensity of these may vary in different phases of your lives, they form the basis of your bond.

How to Identify Your Soul Mate

What a soul mate relationship is:

  • You feel a strong connection, comfort, and sense of familiarity
  • There’s a physical attraction
  • You share mutual love, commitment, and support
  • You “get” each other; you’re each other’s biggest fans
  • You are emotional mirrors and teachers for each other
  • You’re in synch, even telepathic
  • You’re willing to work through conflicts, compromise, and surrender unhealthy patterns to improve the relationship
  • What a soul mate relationship isn’t:

  • All about you (or all about your partner)
  • Lukewarm, boring, or noncommittal
  • Forced or merely a “good idea”
  • Based on abuse, control, or rigidity
  • Only physical attraction or the sense of “lightning striking”
  • The “answer to all your problems” or always conflict-free
  • Based on “settling,” being together for convenience, or out of a fear of being alone, breaking up, or change
  • Whether a soul mate lasts forever, these relationships are transformative and provide a goldmine of lessons. They bring you face-to-face with aspects of your masculine and feminine sides that you desire to integrate. Marriage, which is a civil agreement, doesn’t require that you be with a soul mate. So, if it happens that your spouse isn’t one, or if you always stay single, there are still numerous benefits and much love that is possible. I’m not saying it’s necessarily better or worse to find a soul mate. The level of connection is just different. One thing I am sure of: each of our paths is uniquely perfect. Life presents us with what we need to grow. In this sense, a soul mate may not be appropriate or essential for everyone, as much as the heart may long for one.

    Moreover, you can’t force one to arrive or demand that the universe deliver one. I guarantee: that won’t work. This is where surrender is key. It’s a fine balance. You must clarify what qualities you desire in someone, then surrender expectations. Paradoxically, the “letting go” part is what most increases the likelihood of results. Being too hungry or fixated on finding a mate can backfire by acting as a death grip that stifles flow. To manifest a goal, you must always hold it lightly so you don’t inadvertently sabotage yourself by clamping down.

    There are clear ways to hone your intuitive focus to make it more possible for your soul mate to materialize. Here is an exercise to do from The Ecstasy of Surrender.

    Invite Your Soul Mate In
    Surrender into action by setting the stage for a soul mate, then notice the signs that he or she has arrived.

    1. Make a wish list
    Spend some quiet time picturing the qualities you most desire in a mate. Ask yourself: What would truly be good for me? What do I need? Intelligence? Kindness? Support? Chemistry? Wants children? Good communication skills? Is he or she spiritually connected? Also make a list of traits that are unacceptable to you such as being self-absorbed or rigid. Everyone’s needs are different.

    2. Release Expectations
    Think of your list as a letter to spirit. You’ve put in your soul mate requests. No need to keep re-sending the letter. Now, let the list go. Hold your desires lightly in your heart but don’t push. Have faith that you’ve been heard.

    3. Listen to Intuition
    Pay attention to intuitive signs that you’ve met someone of interest, even if he or she isn’t “your type.” These are: A sudden wave of chills, a gut feeling of attraction, or a flash of insight that this person may be right for you. Also stay aware of intuitions such as a sick feeling in your gut or a sense of distrust that warns, “Danger. Bad news. Stay away.” These will protect you from unhealthy relationships.

    4. Be aware of synchronicities and déjà vu
    Synchronicities are moments of perfect timing when paths effortlessly interconnect. You sit next to someone in a movie who turns out to be your soul mate. Or, out of the blue, you have a chance to go to Paris where you meet The One. Also, notice when you have a sense of déjà vu--as if you’ve known each other before. If this occurs with a stranger, say in the market, act on the situation by smiling and making eye contact. Then strike up a conversation such as asking for directions.



    Judith Orloff MD is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and NY Times bestselling author. Her latest book is The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your life. Dr. Orloff's other bestsellers are Emotional FreedomSecond SightPositive Energy, and Intuitive Healing. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness.

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    Joanne M. Scherff commented on 08-Apr-2014 06:45 PM
    Wow! What an interesting excerpt of your new book. I am looking forward on reading,& just inquired at the free library of Philadelphia.

    I can relate to these views on life. And, I am a work-in-progress" on surrendering!

    Thank you for such an inspiring book,

    Joanne

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    Surrender Your Addiction to Stress

    Judith Orloff - Monday, March 24, 2014

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    (Adapted from The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life Harmony Books, 2014 by Judith Orloff MD)

    According to the most recent APA "Stress in America" survey, nearly half of today’s adults reported being more stressed out. And just as many say they’re simply unable to control the important aspects of their lives. It’s this inability to control outcomes that causes stress. So what’s the answer? Is this really a lose-lose situation? Are we doomed to a cycle of stress, loss of control and more stress?

    In my book, The Ecstasy of Surrender I discuss how the answer to stress is letting go, relinquishing control, and being more flexible in dealing with work, finances and relationships. I’ve consistently seen with patients and in myself that resisting or stiffening during challenging times only increases stress and saps power, what I call bunker mentality. Everything becomes about defense, worry, and fear, not love. Similarly, people get more severely injured in accidents when they tense up. If you fight pain or adversity, the spasm of discomfort tightens. But when you relax suffering lessens.

    Here are some common forms of stress addictions and solutions from The Ecstasy of Surrender on how to let them go.

    Work Stress—Don’t Compare, Compliment
    If you’re stressed out at work, stop comparing yourself to others, and focus on what you're grateful for. Instead of envying someone's success, consider what you can learn from them and wish them well. Letting go this way can be very liberating, freeing you to change at least some of your work related behaviors.

    Relationship Stress—Show Compassion, Relinquish Control
    Yelling at your spouse, partner, or children won’t relieve your stress. The key is to stay calm, no matter what buttons your loved one has pushed. Don’t react or get defensive, and allow the other person to finish talking. Let what they say sink in before you respond. Substitute compassion for control. Accept where they're coming from.

    Physical Stress—Move Don’t Mope
    Here is a surprisingly simple solution: To let go of physical stress, let your body do what it was designed to do - move. At least several times a week, visit the gym, walk your dog, swim, or do yoga stretches. Movement relaxes muscles, reduces tension, and helps you sleep better. If you are physically stressed out surrender to the bliss of your body's sacred energy and love your body through movement.

    Time-Related Stress—Let Nature Calm You
    The American culture rushes people through life, work, and relationships. We don’t allow ourselves enough time to let things happen at their own pace, and surrender to the flow. Take time stressors to go outside and focus on a cloud, watch it drift, and notice its changing shape. Let the air rush through and around you and clear out your mind. Drink a glass of water and take a relaxing shower to cleanse the negativity and work deadlines from your system. These calming exercises can help your rushing mind slow down and gain perspective.

    Illness-Related Stress—Trust Your Body’s Healing Powers
    An illness can often lead to depression. To keep negative thoughts from overwhelming you, change your negative beliefs (I will never heal) to positive ones (I trust my body's healing powers). Instead of getting stressed out, listen to your body—and if a treatment or a doctor's approach doesn’t feel right to you, question it. Get enough sleep and avoid people and settings that deplete or de-energize you.

    One of the keys to surrender is making your mind feel safe enough to soften its resistance to new ideas. To do this first reassure it that you are not giving up control or ignoring survival instincts. Then give your mind a good reason to make a change. Remind it that by letting go you will reduce your stress, have more energy, live longer and improve your relationships. This allows you to give your intellect a say in the decision to update your perspective and let go of knee-jerk reactions.



    Judith Orloff MD is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and NY Times bestselling author. Her latest book is The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your life. Dr. Orloff's other bestsellers are Emotional FreedomSecond SightPositive Energy, and Intuitive Healing. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness.

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    4 Ways Surrendering Control Makes Us More Successful

    Judith Orloff - Saturday, March 15, 2014

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    (Adapted from The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life Harmony Books, 2014 by Judith Orloff MD)

    We live in a culture that encourages type-A personalities who engage in multitasking, getting ahead, competing, and growing profits. The problem is, behaviors such as trying to control the outcome, working overtime, and pushing ourselves to the limit leaves us exhausted, stressed out, depressed, and depleted.

    There's a better way, and it involves learning how to surrender or let go of control. When we invite spontaneity, let ourselves be "in the flow," and when we're able to trust that everything will get done, it opens us up to more creativity, serendipity, and unexpected benefits such as joy, balance, and better health.

    In The Ecstasy of Surrender, learning to let go of our need to control difficult people, win arguments, or be in charge changes the way people relate to us. Instead of arguing, pushing back, or escalating the conflict with a rageaholic or passive-aggressive person, we can let go of the tension we feel. Once we do that, we can find a simple way to navigate the interaction, by agreeing with part of what they say, for example, or by offering a solution that has a common benefit.

    Surrender helps us stay focused.
    In our business and personal lives, it's easy to get distracted by wrong-headed ideas of success. We compare ourselves to others who are wealthier, higher up the corporate ladder, thinner, younger, or more attractive. Learning to surrender comparisons enables us to wish others well, and then we can refocus on energy on our own opportunities, talents, skills, and assets. As a result, we get instant relief from self-doubt, and a big jolt of confidence and purpose.

    Surrender enables goal attainment.
    We've been taught to keep our eye firmly on the goal we want to achieve so that everything we do, say, and accomplish gets us closer to that goal. The problem with this approach is that it's premise is faulty: We cannot control outcomes. There's a better way. By keeping your eye on what you can control--your breath, your emotions, your outlook, and your self-care--surprising things will begin to happen for you. You'll feel positive, happy, and healthy. People will respond to you. You'll feel energized and inspired. Soon, you'll have exactly what you want.

    Surrender expands creativity.
    Being rigid and single-minded in the pursuit of success is like walking on a railroad. You may miss great things that don't fall within your view. Letting go of our addiction to stress and struggle allows us to change our relationship to time and organization. We may find, for example, that looking up at the sky in the middle of a particularly jam-packed day lets the mind wander to the shape of the clouds, which leads to another thought. When we go back to our work, we have a new idea about how to tackle the task.

    Want to find out how "surrendered" you are? Take a free quiz HERE.



    Judith Orloff MD is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and NY Times bestselling author. Her latest book is The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your life. Dr. Orloff's other bestsellers are Emotional FreedomSecond SightPositive Energy, and Intuitive Healing. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness.

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    7 Habits of Surrendered People

    Judith Orloff - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

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    (Adapted from The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life Harmony Books, 2014 by Judith Orloff MD)

    Surrender is a positive, healthy state. Being a surrendered person does not mean one is beaten down and so hopeless he or she has "given up." It's quite the contrary. Surrender is a state of living in the flow, trusting what is, and being open to serendipity and surprises.

    As I write in The Ecstasy of Surrender, adopting the behaviors and habits of surrendered people helps us improve our relationships, feel love and gratitude, get healthier, give up destructive people and behavior patterns, and become more successful and influential in our lives and careers. And that's just the tip of the iceberg as far as benefits go.

    In my medical practice, I've identified specific habits of surrendered people that dramatically enhance their health and allow them to excel in many aspect of their lives. Here are seven of them:

    They recognize they can't control everything.
    Being a control freak makes us tense, stressed out, and unpleasant to be with. Surrendered people understand that they can't always change a situation, especially when the door is shut. They don't try to force it open. Instead, they pay attention to their own behavior, look at the situation at hand, and find a new, different, and creative way to get beyond the obstacles.

    They are comfortable with uncertainty.
    Fixating on the outcome or needing to know all the details of an upcoming event, such as a trip, causes people to be upset when things don't go their way, overly focused on the future, and unable to bounce back easily. Inflexible people are susceptible to anger, distress, and depression. Surrendered people go with the flow, shrug it off when an unplanned situation happens, and tend to be happier, more lighthearted, and resilient.

    They remember to exhale during stress.
    We have two choices when things pile up at work or we're surrounded by energy vampires who leave us feeling depleted. We can get frantic, hyperventilate, shut down, and become reactive. Needless to say, these responses to stress just make us more stressed. Surrendered people have the ability to pause, take a deep breath, and observe. Sustaining silence and circumspection are two behaviors that lead to better, healthier outcomes.

    They are powerful without dominating.
    The most influential person in the room isn't the one who is being a bully, talking loudly, and imposing him- or herself on others. Surrendered people understand that true power comes from being respectful and listening. Surrendered people know themselves and are empathetic toward others. They don't measure themselves by how much they are liked, nor do they compete for attention. When they sit quietly in a room, others always seem to come to them.

    They feel successful apart from their job or net worth.
    Surrendered people enjoy life, relish their personal development, and value their friends. They may have an exceptionally good career and be wealthy, but they are more concerned with meaning and fulfillment. The drive to acquire money and power is a behavior that drains people of their passion and emotional connection to others.

    They can admit when they're wrong.
    People who hold on to grudges, insist on being right, and try to change other's minds have a difficult time maintaining healthy, happy relationships. Surrendered people easily forgive. They are open to new ideas, and aren't attached to being "right." As a result, people love working and collaborating with them. Others seek them out as mediators and advisors. They are more laid back and relaxed than their rigid counterparts, which makes them highly valued by others.

    They are passionate and emotional.
    People who feel the need to push and control tend to keep their feelings bottled up. As a result, they get shut down or remote, and their feelings come out in twisted, unhealthy ways. They become irritable, passive-aggressive, or volatile, for example. Surrendered people make great lovers. They can be spontaneous and playful. They love to feel and express all of their emotions. They look vibrant, healthy, and energetic.

    Want to find out how "surrendered" you are? Take a free quiz HERE.



    Judith Orloff MD is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and NY Times bestselling author. Her latest book is The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your life. Dr. Orloff's other bestsellers are Emotional FreedomSecond SightPositive Energy, and Intuitive Healing. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness.

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    The Art of Reading People: Three Techniques to Ignite Your Super-Senses

    Judith Orloff - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

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    (Adapted from The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life Harmony Books, 2014 by Judith Orloff MD)

    As a psychiatrist my job is to read people, not just what they say, but who they are. Interpreting verbal and nonverbal cues, I want to see past their masks into the real person. Logic alone won’t tell you the whole story about anybody. You must surrender to other vital forms of information so that you can learn to read the important non-verbal intuitive cues that people give off. To do this, you must also be willing to surrender any preconceptions, or emotional baggage such as old resentments or ego-clashes, that stop you from seeing someone clearly. The key is to remain objective and receive information neutrally without distorting it.

    Here are three methods of reading people from my book, The Ecstasy of Surrender. They all require surrendering pure logic in favor of also receiving alternative, non-linear forms of input.

    Three Techniques in the Art of Reading People

    The First Technique. Observe Body Language Cues
    Research has shown that words account for only 7 percent of how we communicate whereas our body language (55 percent) and voice tone (30 percent) represent the rest. Here, the surrender to focus on is letting go of trying too hard to read body language cues. Don’t get overly intense or analytical. Stay relaxed and fluid. Be comfortable, sit back, and simply observe.

    Here are a few examples of the Body Language Cues. I outline many more useful techniques in The Ecstasy of Surrender:

    1. Pay Attention to Appearance
    When reading others notice: Are they wearing a power suit and well-shined shoes, dressed for success, indicating ambition? Jeans and a t-shirt, indicating comfort with being casual? A tight top with cleavage, a seductive choice? A pendant such as a cross or Buddha indicating spiritual values?

    2. Notice Posture
    When reading people’s posture, ask yourself: Do they hold their head high, confident? Or do they walk indecisively or cower, a sign of low self-esteem? Do they swagger with a puffed out chest, sign of a big ego?

    3. Watch For Physical Movements

  • Leaning and Distance
    Observe where people lean. Generally, we lean toward those we like and away from those we don't.

  • Crossed arms and legs
    This pose suggests defensiveness, anger, or self-protection. When people cross their legs they tend to point the toes of the top leg towards the person they are most at ease with.

  • Hiding one’s hands
    When people place their hands in their laps, pockets, or put them behind their back it suggests that they are hiding something.

  • Lip biting or cuticle picking
    When people bite or lick their lips or pick their cuticles they are trying to soothe themselves under pressure or in an awkward situation.
  • 4. Interpret Facial Expression
    Emotions can become etched on our faces. Deep frown lines suggests worry or over-thinking. Crow’s feet are the smile lines of joy. Pursed lips signal anger, contempt, or bitterness. A clenched jaw and teeth grinding are signs of tension.


    The Second Technique. Listen to Your Intuition
    You can tune into someone beyond their body language and words. Intuition is what your gut feels, not what your head says. It’s nonverbal information you perceive via images, ah-has, and body knowings, rather than logic. If you want to understand someone, what counts the most is who the person is, not their outer trappings. Intuition lets you see further than the obvious to reveal a richer story.

    Checklist of Intuitive Cues

    1. Honor your gut feelings
    Listen to what your gut says, especially during first meetings, a visceral reaction that occurs before you have a chance to think. It relays whether you’re at ease or not. Gut feelings occur quickly, a primal response. They’re your internal truth meter, relaying if you can trust people.

    2. Feel the goosebumps
    Goosebumps are marvelous intuitive tingles which convey that we resonate with people who move or inspire us, or are saying something that strikes a chord. Goosebumps also happen when you experience deja-vu, a recognition that you’ve known someone before, though you’ve actually never met.

    3. Pay attention to flashes of insight
    In conversations, you may get an “ah-ha” about people which comes in a flash. Stay alert. Otherwise you might miss it. We tend to go onto the next thought so rapidly these critical insights are lost.

    4. Watch for intuitive empathy
    Sometimes you can feel people’s physical symptoms and emotions in your body which is an intense form of empathy. So, when reading people, notice, “Does my back hurt when it didn’t before? Am I depressed or upset after an uneventful meeting?” To determine if this is empathy, get feedback.


    The Third Technique. Sense Emotional Energy
    Emotions are a stunning expression of our energy, the “vibe” we give off. We register these with intuition. Some people feel good to be around; they improve your mood and vitality. Others are draining; you instinctively want to get away. This “subtle energy” can be felt inches or feet from the body, though it’s invisible. In Chinese medicine it’s called chi, a vitality that’s essential to health.

    Strategies to Read Emotional Energy

    1. Sense People’s Presence
    This is the overall energy we emit, not necessarily congruent with words or behavior. It’s the emotional atmosphere surrounding us like a rain cloud or the sun. As you read people notice: Do they have a friendly presence that attracts you? Or are you getting the willies, making you back off.

    2. Watch people’s eyes
    Our eyes transmit powerful energies. Just as the brain has an electromagnetic signal extending beyond the body, studies indicate that the eyes project this too. Take time to observe people’s eyes. Are they caring? Sexy? Tranquil? Mean? Angry? Also determine: Is there someone at home in their eyes, indicating a capacity for intimacy? Or do they seem to be guarded or hiding?

    3. Notice the feel of a handshake, hug, and touch
    We share emotional energy through physical contact much like an electrical current. Ask yourself, Does a handshake or hug feel warm, comfortable, confident? Or is it off-putting so you want to withdraw? Are people’s hands clammy, signaling anxiety. Or limp, suggesting being non-committal and timid?

    4. Listen for People’s Tone of Voice and Laugh
    The tone and volume of our voice can tell much about our emotions. Sound frequencies create vibrations. When reading people, notice how their tone of voice affects you. Ask yourself: Does their tone feel soothing? Or is it abrasive, snippy, or whiny?



    Judith Orloff MD is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and NY Times bestselling author. Her latest book is The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your life. Dr. Orloff's other bestsellers are Emotional FreedomSecond SightPositive Energy, and Intuitive Healing. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness.

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    Two Ways to Beat an Addiction to Power

    Judith Orloff - Thursday, February 20, 2014

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    (Adapted from The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life Harmony Books, 2014 by Judith Orloff MD)

    Are you addicted to power? Many leaders are, and it gets in the way of their personal and professional progress.

    Here's a mini-profile of a power-addicted leader. He feels he can control everything--and if he can't, he's going to try anyway. He believes he can "make things happen" and has little patience for people and situations that get in the way and distract him from his objective. He feels most powerful when dominating others. He pushes through illness and pain. He defines himself in terms of his title and net worth. He has a difficult time relaxing, being still, and spending intimate time with a lover, or downtime with friends.

    The power addict often finds himself burnt out, stressed out, obsessed, under-slept, alone, and depleted.

    In The Ecstasy of Surrender, I emphasize that power is so seductive because it appeals to our most ancient, hard-wired impulse for survival. But there's a better way. It's to let go of your power addiction and surrender to a new kind of power. This other type of power will make you calmer, more resilient, more connected to others, more influential, and more productive.

    Here are two ways to surrender to a new kind of power--and beat your power addiction.

    Practice intellectual surrender.
    Use reason to convince yourself why giving up your power addiction will benefit you. First, you are not giving up power or ignoring your survival instincts. You are simply extending your power base and becoming more a master of your own fate. Next, remind yourself what will improve in your life by seeing power in larger terms. For instance, if you don't have to control everything, your stress hormones will decrease. You'll be more relaxed, less uptight, and more energized. You'll live longer and have better quality relationships. Give your intellect a say in the decision to update your perspective, and let go of knee-jerk reactions.

    Let go of old behaviors.
    The quickest way to release old behaviors is to try new ones. List three habits you'd like to let go of. For instance:

  • I dismiss people who waste my time with petty questions.
  • I have to be right or have the last word.
  • I feel competitive with peers and don't share information with them.
  • Now, try doing the opposite. Smile at the employee who comes to you for clarification. Tell a colleague that you will consider her proposal, even though it disagrees with yours. Share some valuable business intel with a trusted associate, especially someone who can benefit from that information. By refusing to engage in typical power plays, you'll see immediate changes in those you seek to influence. People will be calmer around you. You'll be more appreciated and trusted, and others' loyalty will increase.

    Learning to change your relationship to power and trying on new types of power will open up your heart, which allows you to start feeling at ease. The world will go on. Things will get done. You'll make an impact. But you'll feel good while you're doing it, instead of feeling clenched up and controlling. Surrendering to a new kind of power means weaning off an addiction to adrenaline power surges and embracing the consciously sought pleasure of higher-ground solutions. No one's perfect. Just give it your best. Doing this is emotional evolution.

    The opposite of addiction to power is surrendering. To find out how "surrendered" you are, take a free quiz HERE.



    Judith Orloff MD is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and NY Times bestselling author. Her latest book is The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your life. Dr. Orloff's other bestsellers are Emotional FreedomSecond SightPositive Energy, and Intuitive Healing. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness.

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    Empathic Illnesses: Do You Absorb Other People’s Symptoms?

    Judith Orloff - Saturday, January 25, 2014

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    (Adapted from The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life Harmony Books, 2014 by Judith Orloff MD)

    Empathic illnesses are those in which you manifest symptoms that are not your own. Many patients have come to me labeled “agoraphobic” with panic disorders, chronic depression, fatigue, pain, or mysterious ailments that respond only partially to medications or psychotherapy. Some were nearly housebound or ill for years. They’d all say, “I dread being in crowds. Other people’s anger, stress, and pain drain me, and I need a lot of alone time to refuel my energy.” When I took a close history of all these patients I found that they were what I call “physical empaths:” people whose bodies are so porous they absorb the symptoms of others. I relate because I am one. Physical empaths do not have the defenses that others have to screen things out. As a psychiatrist, knowing this significantly changed how I treated these patients. My job became teaching them to center and protect themselves, set healthy boundaries, and let go of energy they picked up from others.

    To determine if you are a physical empath take the following quiz.

    Quiz: Am I a Physical Empath?
    Ask yourself:

  • Have I been labeled as overly sensitive or a hypochondriac?
  • Have I ever sat next to someone who seemed nice but suddenly my eyelids got heavy and I felt like taking a nap?
  • Do I feel uneasy, tired, or sick in crowds and avoid them?
  • Do I feel someone else’s anxiety or physical pain in my body?
  • Do I feel exhausted by angry or hostile people?
  • Do I run from doctor to doctor for medical tests, but I’m told “You’re fine.”
  • Am I chronically tired or have many unexplained symptoms
  • Do I frequently feel overwhelmed by the world and want to stay home?
  • If you answered “yes” to 1-3 questions you are at least part empath. Responding yes to 4 to5 questions indicates you have moderate degree of physical empathy. 6 to 7 “yeses” indicate you have a high degree of empathy. Eight yeses indicate you are a full blown empath.

    Discovering that you are a physical empath can be a revelation. Rest assured: You are not crazy. You are not a malingerer or hypochondriac. You are not imagining things, though your doctor might treat you like a nuisance. You are a sensitive person with a gift that you must develop and successfully manage.

    Strategies to Surrender Toxic Energy

    Physical empathy doesn’t have to overwhelm you. Now that I can center myself and refrain from taking on other people’s pain, empathy has made my life more compassionate, insightful, and richer. Here are some secrets to thriving as a physical empath that I’ve learned so that it doesn’t take a toll on my health.

    A Survival Guide for Empaths: 9 Strategies To Stop Absorbing Other People’s Illness and Pain (from The Ecstasy of Surrender)

  • Evaluate. First, ask yourself: Is this symptom or emotion mine or someone else's? It could be both. If the emotion such as fear or anger is yours, gently confront what's causing it on your own or with professional help. If it’s not yours, try to pinpoint the obvious generator.

  • Move away. When possible, distance yourself by at least twenty feet from the suspected source. See if you feel relief. Don't err on the side of not wanting to offend strangers. In a public place, don't hesitate to change seats if you feel a sense of “dis-ease” imposing on you.

  • Know your vulnerable points. Each of us has a body part that is more vulnerable to absorbing others’ stress. Mine is my gut. Scan your body to determine yours. Is it you neck? Do you get sore throats? Headaches? Bladder infections? At the onset of symptoms in these areas, place your palm there and keep sending loving-kindness to that area to soothe discomfort. For longstanding depression or pain, use this method daily to strengthen yourself. It's comforting and builds a sense of safety and optimism.

  • Surrender to your breath. If you suspect you are picking up someone else’s symptoms, concentrate on your breath for a few minutes. This is centering and connects you to your power.

  • Practice Guerilla Meditation. To counter emotional or physical distress, act fast and meditate for a few minutes. Do this at home, at work, at parties, or conferences. Or, take refuge in the bathroom. If it’s public, close the stall. Meditate there. Calm yourself. Focus on positivity and love.

  • Set healthy limits and boundaries. Control how much time you spend listening to stressful people, and learn to say “no.” Remember, “no” is a complete sentence.

  • Visualize protection around you. Visualize an envelope of white light around your entire body. Or with extremely toxic people, visualize a fierce black jaguar patrolling and protecting your energy field against intruders.

  • Develop X ray vision. The spaces between the vertebrae in your lower back (lumbar spine) are conducive to eliminating pain from the body. It’s helpful to learn to mindfully direct pain out of these spaces by visualizing it leaving your body. Say goodbye to pain as it blends with the giant energy matrix of life!

  • Take a bath or shower. A quick way to dissolve stress is to immerse yourself in water. My bath is my sanctuary after a busy day. It washes away everything from bus exhaust to long hours of air travel to pesky symptoms I have taken on from others. Soaking in natural mineral springs divinely purifies all that ails.
  • Keep practicing these strategies. By protecting yourself and your space, you can create a magical safe bubble around you that nurtures you, while simultaneously driving negative people away. Don’t panic if you occasionally pick up pain or some other nasty symptom. It happens. With strategies I discuss in my book to surrender other people’s symptoms you can have quicker responses to stressful situations. This will make you feel safer, healthier, and your sensitivities can blossom.



    Judith Orloff MD is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and NY Times bestselling author. Her latest book is The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your life. Dr. Orloff's other bestsellers are Emotional FreedomSecond SightPositive Energy, and Intuitive Healing. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness.

    Comments
    Joe Chasko commented on 18-Feb-2014 12:22 PM
    Good advice. Also, you may be a psychic empath, with the ability to feed energy back to "emotional vampires" to their benefit and your cost.

    A psychic healer can guide with tools to shield yourself from these attacks. Another remedy is to continue improve your "vibrational frequency" through therapies or meditation, moving from darker thoughts to lighter ones.

    With the combination of these, I can now attend of funeral, which used to be terrible for me.
    Roni Wise commented on 18-Feb-2014 04:29 PM
    Wow,what an eye opener, I've been told I was empathic, but never wondered why I physically am I'll all the time. I scored an 8, which got me thinking, maybe this is not all my illness, or I am not ill at all. Because I'm a nurse, I am in contact with toxic, I'll and stressed people every day. Finally I went on disability, and stay in my room a lot meditating, avoiding people, places and events, and feel exhausted the day I planned to have an outing, and cancel at the last minute. Thanks for the wonderful information. Although I use a energy crystal blanket at night to protect me , I like the idea of a jaguar roaming my room , or house at night
    Anonymous commented on 18-Feb-2014 04:41 PM
    Deep thanks Judith! This came at exactly the right time.
    Georgina commented on 18-Feb-2014 09:12 PM


    Hi Judith,

    Thank you for your email, I found it very confirming.

    I especially enjoyed the visual picture of the "panther".

    Daily I will be applying these strategies when I feel discomfort and other people intruding into my personal space and mental state.

    Please contintue to send emails.

    Thank you once again for your intuition, knowledge, experience and inspiring world.

    Kind regards,



    Georgina.
    karla malcolm commented on 19-Feb-2014 10:55 AM
    thank you for giving a name to this! When I was growing up I was always sick and school was a tough environment for me- easy academically but tough energetically... Now I am an animal communicator and physical empath- I have learned to use it as a gift and clear it from my body- yay your techniques are terrific! Thanks to you, I love your work. xoxo Karla
    Mary-Anne Wielinga commented on 19-Feb-2014 06:38 PM
    As a young health practitioner occasionally I would come across a patient that would drain me , it would take three days to recover. I found washing my arms and saying a prayer helped. As time has passed I find the cycle of reaction and recovery has shrunk, I rarely feel really sapped after working. Now ( after 13 years) I am becoming like a tuning fork, and bits of peoples bodies will sing out to me as I work, when I have cleared or resolved the problem in them my pain leaves. The physical empath capacity has become a tool. I do have areas of my own body that react more severely, to others, like my hands or heart. I think you can be a empath without reacting so severely as you mentioned above in your list.. I love people. I usually only react to people in my care, my friends or hostile people; perhaps thats the only difference.
    Brilliant insight as usual Judith!
    terry rutherford commented on 02-Mar-2014 10:09 PM
    I was a social worker for 18 years when I got cancer. After chemotherapy I went back to work and developed a series of other illnesses. I finally quit but continue to experience agoraphobia, depression and anxiety. I have tried surrounding myself with light for many years but it doesn't seem to help. Years ago I discovered I was an impath when one day I was all of a sudden feeling anxious for no reason. It was two days before April 15th, tax day. I continue to be challenged with sadness and anxiety. If it wasn't for my husbands understanding and support I do not think I would still be here. I can only do 3 things in a day and then need to come home and lay in bed for an hour. I struggle with hopelessness and do not see an upside to being on this planet. I see a psychologist that keeps me active with yoga and socialization but it feel empty. I don't mean to be so negative but this is my current experience. I will cont. to put one foot in front of the other as long as I can. May you all be blessed. T.

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    What Makes a Good Lover?

    Judith Orloff - Thursday, January 09, 2014

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    (Adapted from The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life Harmony Books, 2014 by Judith Orloff MD)

    In my new book, The Ecstasy of Surrender, I discuss how to manifest your full sexual power, even if you are out of touch with it now. First, you must learn to completely inhabit your body and the moment. If not now, when? Holding back, fixating on performance, or letting your mind chatter and drift is the end of passion. It’s vital to get out of your head and into your bliss.

    What is true sexual power? I define it as proudly claiming your erotic self and mindfully channeling sexual energy. You never use it to hurt, manipulate, smother, make conquests or get addicted to the ego-trip of sensual pleasure at the expense of others. This is bad karma. Nor do you allow others to harm or disrespect you. Sexual power is not just who you are in bed, though that’s an aspect of it. You also make electric linkages to your body, to spirit, to a lover, to the universe. It’s a turn on when sexual power is blended with spiritual power. Too many of us in our heady, frantic world lack the rich experience of having a primal connection with someone. Sexuality can offer us this, a satisfaction you can never get from your intellect alone. As you open to both sex and spirit, whether you’re single or part of a couple, you’ll be a vessel for erotic flow, enjoying pleasure without insecurities or inhibitions.

    A key aspect of sexual power is emotional intimacy, an instinctive desire to bond to a lover, to feel comfort, to be known. This makes the difference between pure physical sex and lovemaking. Emotional intimacy comes from affection, from sharing feelings, from being vulnerable. By caring you reinforce each other’s attractiveness and make each other feel special. As friends and lovers, you are fundamentally there for each other which creates trust. You see each other as real people, the good and the bad, not some idealized version. When conflict, anger, or hurt feelings arise, you’re committed to working through them.

    What makes a good lover? There’s an electric chemistry between couples that is unique to them. Smell, voice, touch, and kissing style all figure in. Technical skills and good hygiene are also important. But beyond these, here are some characteristics to look for.

    10 Qualities of a Good Lover from The Ecstasy of Surrender

  • You’re a willing learner
  • You’re playful and passionate
  • You make your partner feel sexy
  • You’re confident, not afraid to be vulnerable
  • You’re adventurous and willing to experiment
  • You communicate your needs and listen to your partner
  • You make time and don’t rush
  • You enjoy giving pleasure as much as you enjoy receiving it
  • You’re supportive, not judgmental
  • You’re fully present in the moment with good eye contact and can let go
  • What stops us from being good lovers? Frequently it’s time constraints, self-centeredness, inhibitions, and lack of technique. Also, our minds won’t shut off which keeps us from being in the moment. Further, many of us resist surrendering to how sexy we really are. Why? We haven’t learned to see ourselves as sexy. We’ve been brainwashed by the “skinny ideal.” Also, sex is frequently viewed more as a performance feat than a holy exchange. Growing up, most of us haven’t been given the right kind of education about what true sexiness is. If only we’d been taught that sexuality is a healthy, natural part of us that we must embody in a mindful, loving way--not something “dirty” or something to be ashamed of. Early on we learn that the words vagina and penis embarrass people. Except between lovers, they are rarely ever part of our vocabulary. We are a culture that embraces shame, only there is nothing to be ashamed of!

    Sexual responsiveness is a sensitive barometer. Intimacy requires self-awareness and a willingness to remove obstacles. Taking action can help you achieve a loving, erotic relationship. On a daily basis, train yourself to be more mindful about getting rest and pacing yourself. It’s not sexy to rush around and be constantly stressed out. Especially when you’re busy, it’s important to remember to breathe, a quick way to reconnect with your body! Though family, work, and other demands can intrude on making time sexuality, being dedicated to self-care can help you prioritize it in your relationship.

    To cure self-doubts, you need to be solution-oriented. For instance, if you wonder, “Is my technique right?” honestly talk with your partner how you can meet each other’s needs. If you’re bored with the same positions, playfully brainstorm together about exciting ways to experiment. Also, with respect, keep discussing the anger or hurt you may feel towards each other so that your resentments don’t numb passion. For more complex issues such as fear of intimacy reach out to a therapist or a friend for insight. While exploring your fears, be kind to yourself. Such sweetness allows you to mend wounds and reclaim your sexual power.



    Judith Orloff MD is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and NY Times bestselling author. Her latest book is The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your life. Dr. Orloff's other bestsellers are Emotional FreedomSecond SightPositive Energy, and Intuitive Healing. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness.

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