Dr Judith Orloff's Blog

4 Ways to Break Up with a Narcissist

Judith Orloff - Thursday, July 02, 2015

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

In my psychiatric practice I’ve seen how hard it is for my patients to break up with a partner who’s a narcissist. Narcissists can make you fall in love with them so hard that it feels like you're giving up a part of your heart to leave them. And they use every manipulation in the book to get you to stay.

On the surface narcissists can seem charming, intelligent, caring—knowing how to entice and lure their way back into your life. But once they reel you back then they revert to their egotistical selves. Their motto will always be “Me First!” Everything’s all about them. They have a grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement, crave admiration and attention. They can also be highly intuitive, but use their intuition for self-interest and manipulation.

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6 Tips to Deal with Anger Addicts

Judith Orloff - Thursday, June 04, 2015

(Excerpt from Dr. Judith Orloff's national bestseller The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life)

Anger addicts cope with conflict by accusing, attacking, humiliating, or criticizing. Unchecked they can be dangerous and controlling.

Anger can tyrannize relationships. One woman I treated had stopped having any male friends because she was afraid of her partner’s unrelenting jealous anger. If she went to lunch, for instance, with a male colleague from work her partner would barrage her with cell phone messages during the meal. Initially, unable to set boundaries, she appeased him by giving in. My patient told me she didn’t want to “create a war at home” by doing anything to provoke his wrath. Clearly, we had our work cut out for us in therapy. She didn’t want to leave her partner but she needed to be strong enough to assert healthier limits in the relationship.

The common dynamic with anger addicts is that they use anger to cope with feeling inadequate, hurt, or threatened, whether the person acts out occasionally or not. Anger is one of the hardest emotions to control due to its evolutionary value of defending against danger. When you’re confronted with anger, your body instinctively tightens, the opposite of a surrendered state. It goes into fight or flight mode. Adrenaline floods your system. Your heart pumps faster. Your jaw and muscles clench. Your blood vessels constrict. Your gut tenses. In this hyper-charged condition, you want to flee or attack.

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How to Deal with Passive Aggressive People

Judith Orloff - Thursday, April 02, 2015

(Excerpt from Dr. Judith Orloff's national bestseller The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life)

Passive aggression is a form of anger, except the anger is expressed with a smile instead of the typical expressions. Passive aggressive people are experts at sugar coating hostility. They often use procrastination, bumbling inefficiency, and the exasperating excuse of “I forgot” to avoid commitments or let you down. They appear eager to please, but know exactly how to make you mad. They can be infuriating because of their seductive or innocent veneers.

Here are some examples:

  • Your spouse brings home yet another gallon of ice cream after you've specifically asked him or her not to do this because you are trying to lose weight.
  • A friend keeps arriving an hour late for a dinner date leaving you waiting over and over again.
  • co-worker keeps promising to help with a project but never comes through.
Passive aggressive behavior ranges from simply irritating to manipulative and punishing. This is different from occasionally being absent-minded, lazy, or busy. Passive aggression is repetitive and has a covert angry edge to it. Passive aggressive people promise anything, then do exactly as they please. They hide anger beneath a compliant exterior. They don’t give straight answers and have vague responses such as “I’ll get back to you.” Then they don’t follow through so you must keep reminding them. Sometimes their remarks can be hurtful, especially so because they come at you sideways--you don’t know what hit you.

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Awaken Your Sensual Self

Judith Orloff - Wednesday, February 11, 2015

(Excerpt from Dr. Judith Orloff's national bestseller The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life)

To fully step into your personal power it is important to awaken your sensual self. Doing this can offer you a primal connection, 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 an erotic flow, enjoying pleasure without insecurities or inhibitions.

True sexual power is claiming your erotic self and mindfully channeling sexual energy. You never use it to hurt, manipulate, make conquests or get addicted to the ego-trip of sensual pleasure at the expense of others. Instead sexuality compliments spirituality by linking us with a greater force of love.

To ignite your senses, try these techniques from my book, The Ecstasy of Surrender either by yourself or with a partner to arouse your sexuality and let go to pleasure.

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4 Surrender Strategies to Communicate with Difficult People

Judith Orloff - Thursday, October 09, 2014


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

Many of us spend an inordinate amount of time and energy contending with difficult people or “emotional vampires” at work and at home. It’s a reflex to emotionally contract around them feeling powerless, irritated, hurt, or miserable, reactions that just wear you out. But, they can’t steal your happiness unless you let them.

Surrender can improve your communication skills in many kinds of challenging interactions. For instance, do you know when to surrender your need to be right in order to restore love at home, or when to surrender resentments so that you can forgive? How to avoid taking things personally? Or deal with a friend or spouse who’s doing something you disagree with?

Be aware that your ego could resist the concept of surrender as its aim is to create open channels of communication between people rather than stonewalling or defending, responses the ego is more accustomed to. Instead if you value “we” as well as “me,” you become a master at diffusing negativity, not a pushover. Let’s say you’re deadlocked in an argument; nobody’s giving in. Then what? Don’t turn it into a battle for supremacy. Instead, give the first inch, an act of true strength. Apologizing for your part in the conflict shows that you value the relationship more than your ego. This opens the door for others to admit their part too. It’s people with real power who step up first to surrender their ego, promoting impeccable communication.

Here are four strategies from The Ecstasy of Surrender to help you deal with the difficult people in your life.

Strategy #1: Follow the Laws of Impeccable Communications

Follow these general laws of communication so you’re able to flow with difficult people and prevent blocks. In your daily life, these will ensure that you’re leading from a position of strength not anger or desperation. You’ll be flexible instead of just meeting conflict with an oppositional force.

The Laws of Impeccable Communication


  • Be calm, not emotionally reactive
  • Avoid defensiveness--it makes you look weak
  • Patiently hear someone out without interrupting or needing to have the last word
  • Empathize with where people are coming from, even if you disagree with them
  • Pick your battles, apologize when necessary
  • Don’t

  • Be drawn into drama
  • React impulsively out of anxiety or anger so you say something you’ll regret
  • Hold onto resentments or stay attached to being right
  • Attempt to manage other people’s lives or become their therapist
  • Shame people, especially in front of others
  • Get in the habit of applying these laws to both friends and foes. The “dos” involve surrender and discernment. They will move you closer to resolving conflict by first harmonizing with another’s position, even if you disagree. This sets a tone to resolve conflicts or set boundaries whereas antagonism just alienates.

    Strategy #2: Be Mindful of Your Attitude

    Your attitude is important. Difficult people can be like spiritual teachers who are meant to awaken us, though they aren’t conscious of their role. Nobody said awakening is always pleasant or easy. But they can teach you about surrender: the attitudes you must release to triumph over them or set boundaries and which of their behaviors you must not surrender too. Most difficult people aren’t trying to harm you: they are just unconscious or self-absorbed. Very few are truly dark and have evil motives.

    Strategy #3: Watch the Tone of Your Voice

    Your tone of voice is important too. A critical tone only inflames people. Set limits with them and firmly say “no” with love, instead of sounding snippy or blaming when someone “steps over the red line.” To get the attention of chronic talkers or those on a rant, it helps to open your remark by lovingly saying their name. Hearing one’s name aloud instinctively makes us pause. Remember, we all can be difficult at times. Let this sobering fact curb your enthusiasm for chastising the shortcomings of others in word or tone.

    Strategy #4: Be Compassionate

    Do your best not to vilify people, even when they’re obnoxious or unkind. Realize that anger addicts, guilt trippers, or the other types of difficult people are insecure, wounded, and disconnected from their hearts. The challenge around bad behavior is to maintain your power and priorities while setting clear boundaries, no matter how annoying, negative, or full of themselves others can be.

    People can be annoying and disappointing, as we all sometimes are. None of us is perfect; most of us are doing the best we can. So keep searching for a part of someone that you can empathize with, even when it’s a stretch. You may not always succeed, but keep trying. This doesn’t make you a doormat or a victim. Rather, such compassion allows you to become the finest version of yourself, even as you set limits with bad behavior.

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