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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