Dr Judith Orloff's Blog

What's Your Money Type? Take This Quiz

Judith Orloff - Monday, June 16, 2014


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

Money can bring out your most fearful self or your largest heart. Which one you surrender to changes everything. How do you do this? By finding effective ways to surrender fear, stinginess, and other resistances to abundance so that money can flow more freely into your life.

To identify your style of relating to money, below are five money types, including quizzes from my book, The Ecstasy of Surrender. Though you may contain aspects of more than one type, pick the one you most resonate with. Evaluate your financial habits with kindness. The goal is to develop a successful approach to money and get pleasure from what you spend on.

Type 1. The Worrier

Worriers can be thrifty, astute problem solvers, and will avoid errors because of their diligence with finances. The downside is that worry increases stress hormones, decreases immunity, and impairs health and sleep. It’s important for them to focus on surrendering worry so they don’t sabotage abundance with their panicked relationship to finances.

Quiz: Am I A Worrier?
Ask yourself:

  • Do I worry about money every day?
  • Do I make financial problems larger, not smaller?
  • Do I have difficulty falling asleep because I’m worried about money?
  • Do I worry about money even during comfortable times?
  • Do I find I can’t stop worrying, even though I try?
  • When one financial worry is solved do I immediately go onto another?
  • If you answered yes to all 6 questions then worry plays a very large role in your financial life. Four or five yeses indicate a large role. Two or three yeses a moderate role. One yes indicates a low level. Zero indicates that this is not your primary money type. Use this format to calculate your score in the other four money types in this blog.

    The art of surrendering worry is to stay focused in the present moment, rather than making up worst case scenarios to freak yourself out, and take action where you can, such as slowly paying off a debt. What’s hard for worriers to accept is that despite their valiant efforts to be financially secure, they can’t control everything.

    Type 2. The Procrastinator

    This money type notoriously avoids dealing with finances with denial. They live from paycheck to paycheck. For the short term, the feel-good benefit of denial is that stress is reduced as thoughts of financial pressure disappear. But reality will catch up with them when bills mount and creditors start calling. Then panic and guilt about not fulfilling responsibilities set in.

    Quiz: Am I A Procrastinator?
    Ask yourself:

  • Do I put off financial decisions?
  • Are my bills piling up?
  • Do I have difficulty making decisions about money?
  • Do I keep ignoring my credit card debt?
  • Do I glaze over when paying bills?
  • Are my taxes or other bills always past due so I accrue penalty charges?
  • As a psychiatrist, I know how much diligence it takes to surrender denial. This is something procrastinators have to want to do. Then, gradually, they can train themselves to address money at a comfortable pace. The secret to letting go of procrastination is finding the sweet spot between accepting financial responsibility and taking time out from stress to unwind.

    Type 3. The Addictive Spender

    Addictive spenders prefer the thrill of spending to the security of saving money. They spend on impulse whether they can afford it or not. Spending becomes a drug, a way to self-medicate low self-esteem, hurt, and disappointments by futilely trying to fill an emotional hole with material things--a temporary fix at best.

    Quiz. Am I An Addictive Spender?
    Ask yourself:

  • Do I have difficulty controlling my spending?
  • Do I get a thrill from spending money or gambling?
  • Do I over-spend to escape worry, anger, or loneliness?
  • Am I a compulsive shopper, unable to pass up “bargains” I can’t afford?
  • Are my debts affecting my serenity and reputation?
  • Do I have a bad credit record?
  • Addictive spending is primarily an emotional and spiritual issue, not a financial one. Treatments include counseling, twelve step programs such as Gamblers or Debtors Anonymous, along with being taught money management skills. Healing comes from learning to address and let go of painful emotions without trying to numb them with spending.

    Type 4. The Saver/Miser/Hoarder

    These types are practical, good at planning for the future and saving for a rainy day. Nevertheless, there’s a difference between being financially responsible and obsessive. Savers who go overboard can become penny pinchers and greedy misers. It’s hard for them to enjoy their money, take vacations, or spend on themselves and others.

    Quiz. Am I A Saver?
    Ask yourself:

  • Am I diligent at saving money but don’t hoard?
  • Do I prefer conservative investments to risk taking?
  • Can I enjoy spending money on things I can afford?
  • Do I try not to spend more than I make?
  • Am I against greed?
  • Do I give to charitable causes?
  • When savers turn into misers or hoarders, it may suggest obsessive compulsive disorder which makes them clutch onto money and things to ward off anxiety, the opposite of surrender. They can’t surrender control and be generous because they fear scarcity. To avoid becoming a mean, miserly Scrooge spread abundance by anonymously leaving small amounts of money for people to find. Experience the happiness of this as you let stinginess go. Be a self-appointed money gnome who spreads abundance in the world.

    Type 5. The Intuitive Spender

    At their best, intuitive spenders are finely tuned instruments, balancing logic with gut instincts in money management, hiring, and investments. However, intuitive spenders get into trouble when they simply go on impulse and disregard logic. Also they can misread a financial situation if they can’t distinguish intuition from wishful thinking or fear.

    Quiz: Am I An Intuitive Spender?
    Ask yourself:

  • Do I check in with my gut about finances?
  • Do I look beyond logic for answers?
  • If a decision feels right do I act on it or if it doesn’t can I let it go?
  • Do I trust my gut when it says “beware” of an investment?
  • Will I take a reasonable financial risk based on intuition?
  • Do I consult my intuition about how to creatively make money and where to invest or donate?
  • Smart intuitive spenders also have good common sense. Intuitive spenders can be brilliant money managers if they’re clear about what messages they’re surrendering to. The key is to let go of overthinking or fear, and trust authentic intuitions.

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    Surrender Your Addiction to Stress

    Judith Orloff - Monday, March 24, 2014


    (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.

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    4 Strategies to Survive Emotional Vampires

    Judith Orloff - Tuesday, October 22, 2013


    Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s NY Times bestseller “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” (Three Rivers Press, 2011)

    As an energy psychiatrist I know that to come out ahead with drainers, you must be methodical. Emotional vampires can’t savage your peace of mind or prick you to death with corrosive remarks if you’re onto them. This survival guide from my book, Emotional Freedom covers everything from recognizing an initial exposure to deploying techniques to deflect negativity. It will enable you to stay centered in difficult relationships.

    The First Strategy: Determine Am I Being Sapped By An Emotional Vampire?

    Anyone who has ever shared an office, car pool, or attended a family dinner with a vampire can attest to experiencing some common emotional side effects. Even after a brief contact, you feel worse; they feel better. To find out if you’ve been bled, watch for these signs. Experiencing even one indicates you’ve met a drainer on the prowl.

  • Your eyelids get heavy--you’re ready for a nap
  • You feel put down or like the rug was pulled out from under you
  • Your mood takes a nose-dive
  • You have a yen to binge on carbs or comfort food
  • You feel sniped at, slimed, or agitated
  • In addition, sometimes intuitive flashes and dreams can raise a red flag. Pay attention. For instance, following a dinner I attended where the guests had something negative to say about everything, I dreamed I was bombarded by a storm of leeches. Similarly, after a critical friend skewered one of my patients, she felt as if she’d fallen to the bottom of a well. Another patient dreamed that a pigeon pooped on her head--splat, there it was: her reaction to a nasty altercation with her apartment’s superintendent. Whether you’re awake or asleep, notice telling imagery that conveys emotion. This will help you identify a vampire.

    The Second Strategy: Practice These General Do’s and Don’ts With Emotional Vampires

    Whenever possible, eliminate drainers from your life. However, with those you can’t or don’t want to remove--for example, friends going through a rough patch or relatives who are fixtures--follow these tips:

  • Take a breath to center yourself
  • Listen for intuitions signaling danger (i.e. you get “the creeps,” a bad taste in your mouth, a tired or tense feeling)
  • Stay calm and matter of fact instead of going for their bait
  • Pause…develop a plan to handle the situation before you react (refer to the fourth guideline describing these strategies)
  • Communicate clearly, firmly, with a neutral tone when setting limits
  •           Don’t
  • Panic
  • Talk yourself out your intuitions or call yourself “neurotic”
  • Blurt out what you’ll regret later or use an accusatory tone
  • Fight with the person
  • Overeat to medicate stress
  • Also consider what kind of emotional vampires you’re facing; we often attract what we haven’t emotionally resolved in ourselves. If you’re fearful, you may find yourself surrounded by legions of fearful people. However, once you’ve begun to heal an emotion, you’re less likely to magnetize it towards you, nor does it possess the same ability to wear you out.

    If you decide that the pros outweigh the cons of remaining with an emotional vampire, say a bullying colleague or mate, you must take responsibility for that decision and the way you respond. Ask yourself, “How can I stay in the relationship and not feel oppressed?” This means concentrating on the good and accepting someone’s limitations.

    The Third Strategy: Could I Be An Emotional Vampire? How Do I Know?

    We’ve all got a smidgeon of vampire in us, especially when we’re stressed. So, cut yourself a break. It’s admirable to admit, “I think I’m emotionally draining people. What can I do?” Can’t be free without such honesty. Then you can change. These are some common indications that you’re becoming a drainer.

  • People avoid you or glaze over during a conversation
  • You’re self-obsessed
  • You’re often negative
  • You gossip or bad-mouth people
  • You’re critical, controlling
  • You’re in an emotional black hole, but won’t get help--this strains relationships and won’t free you
  • The solution is always to own up to where you’re emotionally stuck and change the related behavior. For instance, one patient in computer graphics kept hammering his wife with a poor-me attitude about how he always got stuck with boring projects at work. Instead of trying to improve the situation, he just kvetched. She started dreading those conversations, diplomatically mentioned it to him. This motivated my patient to address the issue with his supervisor, which got him more stimulating assignments. Similarly, whenever I slip into vampire mode, I try to examine and alter my behavior or else discuss the particulars with a friend or a therapist so I can change. Don’t hesitate to seek assistance when you’re stumped.

    The Fourth Strategy: Identify and Combat Emotional Vampires

    To be free of vampires, you must know the nature of the beast. Each one has a special talent for emotionally disabling you. The good news is that vampires are predictable. Once you get their number, you won’t be caught off guard. Understanding vampires from multiple angles gives you the upper hand. So does having empathy for their emotional wounds--intuitively, these feel as real to me as physical injury. Think about it: No one becomes a vampire because they’re happy! Whether or not they know it, vampires are driven by insecurity and weakness, infirmities that impede goodwill. This doesn’t excuse their predatory acts. Rather, it allows you to show compassion for people you may not like while setting limits, a paradigm for emotional diplomacy that frees you and reduces drain. This framework will help clarify your relationships, but realize there’s much more to a human being than any single definition. Stay focused: your aim isn’t to rehabilitate vampires, merely to counter them with uncommon grace.

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    How to Set Awkward Boundaries: “No” is a Complete Sentence!

    Judith Orloff - Friday, September 13, 2013


    Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s NY Times bestseller “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” and "Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength, and Love”

    It may sometimes be awkward to set healthy boundaries with negative or draining people, but it is an important skill to learn. If someone has unrealistic expectations of you or unable to respect your feelings remember “No” is a complete sentence. A key to setting boundaries is to come from a centered, unemotional, place—not to be reactive. For example if someone has been saying disparaging comments about you, from a heartfelt center say, “Please don’t talk about me to others. It’s inappropriate and disrespectful.” Then refuse to argue about it, even if your buttons are pushed.

    Here are some additional tips from my books, “Emotional Freedom” and "Positive Energy” to help you set boundaries, especially when it feels really awkward.

    Dealing with an Emotional Drainer
    If you meet someone and your energy starts bottoming out, don’t think twice about politely removing yourself from this killing interchange. One of my favorite foolproof lines is, “Excuse me; I really have to go to the bathroom.” Even the most intrepid vampire doesn’t have a counter-argument for that. It’s important that you move at least twenty feet from beyond the person’s energy field. Whenever your well-being feels at risk around certain people, make a tactful and swift exit. In a spot, physically extruding yourself is a sure, quick solution.

    Dealing with a Constant Talker
    The secret to dealing with a constant talker is knowing they don’t respond to nonverbal cues. You have no choice but to make your needs audible. Tone is especially critical with these vampires. They’re hypersensitive to rejection, which provokes them to ramp up their verbiage. So, with a constant talker try to be caring--these are wounded people!--but stay definite and neutral. Then, from a heart-center, set the parameters of your dialogue. Then you won’t be left limp, resentful, or forced into rudeness. You can politely say, “I’m a very quiet person, so excuse me for not talking a long time,” or “I feel left out when you dominate the conversation. I’d really appreciate a few minutes to talk too.”

    Dealing with a Criticizer
    If an intimate or co-worker keeps telling you how to deal with something, politely say, “I value your advice, but I really want to work through this myself.” You may need to remind the controller of your position several times, always in a kind, neutral tone. Repetition is key. Respectfully reiterating your stance over days or weeks will slowly recondition negative communication patterns and redefine the terms of the relationship. If you reach an impasse, agree to disagree. Then make the subject off limits.

    Dealing with a Complainer
    The moment you sense a complainer revving up, take a slow, deep breath to center yourself. Breathing is a wonderful way to quickly reconnect with your life force so their in-your-face intensity won’t sear into your energy field and cause burn-out. Keep concentrating on your breath. Tell yourself you know what’s happening, and you can handle it. As I remind my patients: you have power here. I know how easily we can lose it. But, when beset by this overheated drainer, you need to own that moment. Do so by letting your breath release tension and ground you. This will keep you from getting caught up in their story. Then lovingly tell them, “Our relationship is important to me, but it’s not helpful to keep feeling sorry for yourself. I can only listen for five minutes unless you’re ready to discuss solutions,” or “I’m really sorry that’s happening to you.” Then, after listening briefly, smile and say, “I’ll keep good thoughts for things to work out. I hope you understand, I’m on deadline and I must return to work.”

    If you feel like you are being overwhelmed by a difficult person here are some strategies to help you gain control and become centered again.

  • When you feel attacked break eye contact to stop the transfer of negativity.
  • Use the breath to retrieve your life force. Let it function like a vacuum cleaner. With each inhalation visualize yourself power-suctioning back every drop of energy that’s being snatched from you. Keep inhaling until the job is done. Do this in the presence of a vampire or later on.
  • Exhale negative energy and stress out the back of your lower spine. There are spaces between your lumbar vertebrae, natural exit points for energy. Touch the area; get a feel for the anatomy. When toxicity accumulates, expel it through these spaces. Envision dark gunk leaving your body. Then breathe in fresh air and sunlight, a quick re-vitalizer.
  • Jump in a bath or shower to clear negativity and prevent further drain. If you are feeling particularly drained add Epson salts or sea salts to the water. If you are in the shower you can rub sea salt on your skin and then wash it off. Drink plenty of water to flush toxicity from your system too. Also you can burn sage where this vampire has been to purify every nook and cranny. (This works well in hotel rooms when a prior guest’s left-over energy feels uncomfortable, but use only a little so you don’t trigger the smoke alarm!)
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    3 Steps to Rekindle the Passion in Your Job

    Judith Orloff - Tuesday, June 25, 2013


    Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff's ”Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength, and Love ”

    I’m a fanatic about following your passion. As a psychiatrist and intuitive when I work with my patients and workshop participants my mission is to hunt down and reinforce what creatively jibes for them from jobs to finger-painting. In my book, Positive Energy I devote a full chapter to help people to reconnect with their passion and creativity. Whether you’re writing the great American novel, laying bricks, or sprinkling rose petals on a salad, your delight and surrender to the impulse is what catalyzes energy.

    Now this is your chance to investigate what does or doesn’t inspire you. The purpose: to honestly access where your energy goes so you can constructively re-route it. To remember all inspiring inklings, I suggest you keep a journal and review it. Don’t be discouraged if you’re stuck in a rut or feel far from inspired right now. This inventory will turn all that around. Re-inspiring your life takes courage. It’s a solution-oriented process of uncovering, then commencing change.

    My focus will be helping you to re-inspire your current job, even tiny bits of it--there’s always a way. Throughout this process, the poet Rumi’s words will be our mantra:

         “Let the beauty you love be what you do.
          There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

    But how do we get there? Here are some basic steps from my book, Positive Energy.

    Step One: In A Journal Define the Conflict About Your Job.

    For instance, “I’m exhausted after eight hours, and I hate my work.” Or “I’m bored and need a change.” Or “I feel taken for granted.”

    Step Two: Ask yourself the following questions:

    Why doesn’t my job inspire me? Pinpoint the cause.

  • Is it the particular circumstances--your boss, office politics, or irritating coworkers?
  • Do I dwell on all the negatives, rather than looking for a piece of my work that could give me more juice?
  • The most basic issue: Am I following my heart’s desire or mired in a career that doesn’t feel center for me?
  • Can I work within the system for change? Or do I need to seek another job?
  • Step Three: Modify Your Current Work Situation

    How to Re-inspire your Job:

  • Sometimes lack of inspiration comes from difficult relationships, not the work itself. If there’s bad energy between you and a coworker, try to correct the situation instead of aggravating it. Be the bigger person. Start being pleasant instead of prickly. Nastiness can be a mask for a person’s insecurities. Kindness often penetrates that. Offer a word of appreciation. Surprise the person with a rose. Do everything possible to shift antagonism.

  • Don’t expect your boss to be a mind reader. Instead of stewing in boredom or discontent, express your needs. If you know how you’d like to better your job, explore options. See if they are do-able within the framework of your environment. For years a patient of mine had been paralyzed by fear of rejection. It stopped her from asking for what she wanted. When she finally summoned the courage to present a project she loved to her boss, and he agreed to it, her job took on new energy. The point is to risk. You’ll never know what’s possible until you do.

  • Intuitively micro-analyze your day. Look for any aspect of your job that has some sparks. Remember what initially attracted you to the job other than money. Also notice what perks your magic up and relieves apathy or fatigue. When you hit upon it, you’ll experience a more-alive feeling, an excitement, or simply a gentle interest: these are signs of life force in your work. Spend more time in these areas. Document them in your journal.

  • Gravitate to coworkers who inspire and energize you. One publisher-patient who thrived on her busy job, often came home tired. Once she realized what a kick she got from interacting with the art department she upped her visits there. They had loads of laughs, which tweaked her energy at work and afterwards. Fatigue is lethal to inspiration. Avoid anyone who drains. Go towards energy hot spots in your job--people and activities--so your time is skewed towards inspiration.

  • Make your work about service and meaning: how to make a difference in the world. This can entail being kind to others and injecting friendliness into your milieu, which will nurture you too. Give a co-worker a pat on the back; don’t lay into a delivery guy when he’s late, turn people on to ideas to better the environment and the world. One of my patients is a producer for national news. Though deadlines are brutal, he’s in an ideal position to get positive messages across. Framing his work in service keeps him aligned with inspiration. Whatever your job, the ethics and love with which you conduct yourself, and the positive messages you share can be of service and spread inspiration.
  • If you’ve tried to re-inspire your job, but the situation is unredeemable, you may want to look for another. It could be an upward or lateral move. This may make all the difference. One of my patients who felt battered by her Napoleonic boss’s mood swings, found her blood pressure normalized and her inspiration returned when she quit that job and began working with another boss she enjoyed. In these cases, a change of place is just what’s needed.

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