Ask Dr. Orloff About Empathy


Do empaths have a harder time dealing with technology and EM radiation?

In The Empath’s Survival Guide I write about empaths & technology & how important it is to take technology fasts. Some empaths are what I call “electro-sensitives.” They get exhausted or anxious around electromagnetic energy from computers, phone wires and cell phones. As an empath I don’t like talking on the phone—too much talking also gets to me-so I ask people to text me. But empaths can also feel the stress and other energy of people in texts too. So if you suspect the text is stressful shield yourself with a protection of light around your body and breathe deeply and slowly go let go of any negativity you pick up.

Embrace your sensitivities,

Is sleeping well more difficult for empaths?

Empaths are sensitive souls in all areas, sleep being one of them. Deep sleep is necessary for empaths to decrease their sense of being overstimulated by life. Many empaths have a harder time for sleep and need a specific kind of sleep hygiene. First, your bed needs to be a sacred space with comfortable sheets, pillows, comforters so you can burrow into the refuge of your bed. Your bed should never be a place of conflict where you argue, pay bills or do other stressful activities. I suggest meditating for 5 minutes before you to to sleep to find stillness and quiet your mind. Picture a very beautiful scene in nature. Empaths love water so any scene with water is calming. You might also want to get a white noise machine with nature sounds. In terms of your emotional healing, review your life to see if there was an incident or experience that made it feel not safe to sleep and let go—for instance hearing your parents yelling or other traumas. You can journal about this and work with a therapist or guide to get through these issues. I also invite you to read my book Emotional Freedom and go straight to the section on sleep and dreams for more strategies to sleep well + join my Empath Support Community on Facebook to be with like minded sensitive souls.

Can two empaths be in a successful relationship together?

I’ve treated many empath couples and taught them how to honor each other’s sensitivities. The positive side is that they easily understand what each other is feeling. The more challenging aspect is creating a life where you can define your own needs and set adequate boundaries with each other to feel safe and calm. Two empaths who are overwhelmed by the world can create anxiety at home. That’s why it’s so important for each partner to have his or her separate quiet space to unwind. When empaths are triggered by the world they should take a time out to regroup and decompress. Though it is often challenging for two empaths to be in love, over the long term it can be successful when the mutual respect and communication is there. The passion and heart connection is incredible! Please read the section on relationship empaths in my book The Ecstasy of Surrender for further guidance.

How can an empath travel more comfortably without getting overwhelmed?

It is important that you practice the 3 minute heart meditation that I describe in Emotional Freedom. This will help you go inward and recenter yourself over and over again so you don’t get through off by the energy of others. Also bring a small white travel candle to light in the small hotel rooms. Meditate by it to shift the energy of the room to a heart space. That will eliminate the negative energy that may be still in the room. Practice the shielding technique I discuss in Emotional Freedom on buses so you don’t feel or take on the energy of others. In hostels if there is any way to put up a small boundary between you and others such as pillows or suitcases then you can create a small oasis for yourself. Take breaks to meditate in beautiful parks. Be sure to eat protein and not skip meals. This balances empaths as well when they are traveling. And then be sure to have fun in all your adventures!!

Are empaths meant to serve in the healing arts or are they too sensitive?

Empaths are intuitive, loving, sensitive and make wonderful healers IF they learn how not to take on the stress of their patients. As a psychiatrist I work at this all the time and succeed. There are many techniques that you will need to practice such as grounding, shielding, meditation, and notice what buttons of yours get pushed by your patients–for instance, their depression, anxiety, frustrations–and begin to heal those triggers in yourself. Then you won’t be as prone to absorb other people’s emotions. Check out my CD Becoming An Intuitive Healer which is made for healers and health care professionals of all kinds. There are multiple techniques there that you can practice.

How do I live with an empath?

Empaths are extremely sensitive people and need their alone time. It is very important that you give it to your partner. Find out what your partner’s other needs are and try to factor them in to your decision making. For instance, if the person only likes to stay an hour or two in social situations let her take their own car so they can be comfortable. The empath, however, must do his/her own work in managing their sensitivities. An empath without these skills can be very uncomfortable in their own skin and make their loved ones uncomfortable. I suggest you both take a look at my book Emotional Freedom to learn and practice strategies for dealing with empaths. They will help!

How can a non-empath live with an empathic spouse?

What a loving question! In The Ecstasy of Surrender I discuss what the signs are of a relationship empath. Most important you need to give your spouse the alone time he/she needs, have discussions about how long he/she feels comfortable staying in social situations (empaths get burned out and overstimulated with too much people-contact), and encourage your spouse to set limits with you or others if he/she needs to be quiet and alone. Also spend a lot of time in nature. Empaths love nature!

How can an Empath and an Intellectual have a good relationship?

As a sensitive empath it’s very important that you set clear limits and boundaries with your girlfriend. As I discuss in my book, Emotional Freedom she is the emotional type called the Intellectual. She naturally prefers staying in her head whereas you tend to be more empathic and intuitive. Surrendering worry is very important to maintain peace of mind. A good relationship is based on respect and trust. As an empath you have special needs and require quiet time. Talk to your girlfriend about your needs and then you both can find a creative way to find balance.

Are you an empath who wants children but are scared?

First, I want to say that empaths make wonderful, loving sensitive parents. The secret is learning to set as many fierce boundaries as you can to create as much alone time as is feasible. This is a huge challenge with children, especially infants. But if you have a loving mate who is willing to support you in this you can meet each week to develop time management skills that will support you. You will be challenged with children but the rewards are great. You must be very loving with yourself as you go on this journey and learn to take power naps whenever you can. I would take it a day at time and not catastrophize about what could happen. Something magical takes over when you have a child and your heart is filled with enormous love different than you may have experienced before. This love can teach you as an empath along the way.

How can an “Empath” and a “Rock” be in a good relationship?

I think empaths and rocks make wonderful partners. They balance each other and help each other grow. The Rock can learn to express his passion and emotions more clearly from you, while you can learn grounding techniques from your partner the Rock. Have your boyfriend read the section on Empaths and Rock in Emotional Freedom, then discuss positive changes you both can make. I love having a partner who’s a rock. They’re like big bears who are solid on the earth.

Do emotional empaths get more sensitive as they age?

Yes, definitely if you are on a path to develop your spirituality and intuition. As your heart opens, the more sensitive you become. However you must learn skills to center your energy in general and with your soul mate. You must discuss the situation with your partner and the two of you can work together to find a happy medium. As an empath you may need some more alone time to meditate and refuel. These tweaks in time/space management can make your relationship better than ever.

What are tips for empaths to cope during holiday festivities?

Empaths have many challenges during the holiday time. But this is a perfect time to practice the grounding and centering techniques I discuss in Emotional Freedom. Be sure to meditate before the gathering, centering yourself, connecting to spirit, feeling your heart. Get strong. Also eat some protein to ground the body. At the gathering try not to sit next to the identified energy vampire. Physical closeness increases empathy. Set clear limits and boundaries with people, nicely cutting them off at the pass if they get critical or mean. Practice shielding. And if all else fails, you can always go to the bathroom to meditate or call a friend who can help you ground.

How do I help empathic children shield themselves and calm down?

How beautiful you are supporting empathic children. Teach them to breathe out negativity and stress whenever they pick it up and how to picture a shield of white light around their bodies when they are in stressful situations. Also teach them not to hug or look deep into the eyes of people who they get a bad feeling about but instead go towards positive people who have heart.

Are highly sensitive people more prone to illness?

Yes, sensitive people, whom I call empaths in Emotional Freedom, are more prone to symptoms and illness because they tend to be acutely sensitive and absorb what is around them in their environment. As a sensitive person, it’s vital that you practice the strategies I suggest in the book to manage your energy such as clear boundary setting, alone time, meditation, being in nature, calming yourself down–all this decreases stress, which can help your migraines!

Can childhood neglect affect your sensitivity levels as an adult?

Childhood neglect can have a profound effect on your emotional energy. Often it makes you very sensitive and open to your environment, sometimes too much so. Then it might seem that you “over-react” but really your empathy has been finely tuned by the trauma. Use some of the shielding and grounding techniques I prescribe for empaths in Emotional Freedom. Also I’m a big believer in surrogate parenting. If you didn’t get the nurturing from your parents, find adults in your current life who can love and nurture you as parents would.

Do emotional empaths have a stronger connection to the animal kingdom?

I view our sweet animal companions as teachers and healers. Though all people with loving hearts can feel their goodness, empaths are especially sensitive to absorbing the pure unconditional love that cats and dogs and other animal companions so generously bestow. It is very soothing for empaths to be around that love. Wild creatures exude power and grandeur, a bit of a different energy, that can be very vitalizing too. Empaths often find people difficult and harsh whereas loving animal companions nurture them. I feel so strongly about this subject I am devoting a chapter in my new book on surrender to it.

Do highly sensitive people get energized in the country and out in nature?

Thank you for your question. Empaths typically love to be out in nature and get revitalized by the quiet and beauty. It’s a wonderful place for sensitive people to live. Cities often drain empaths if they don’t practice the important centering and protection techniques I discuss in Emotional Freedom. In relationships, empaths must learn to set clear limits and boundaries and have their own space. Then relationships can be healthy, possible, and fun! Please read the section on empaths in Emotional Freedom about relationships.

Do empaths have stronger physical reflexes and a startle response?

Yes, it is a revelation to find out that you are an empath. I’m glad the quiz in the book helped. Yes, I’ve seen that empaths have very sensitive physical reflexes and a quick startle response. As an empath, I notice this in myself and many of my patients have reported this. On a physical level, empaths are highly sensitive people with a highly sensitive nervous system. That’s why it’s important to learn how to calm yourself with meditation, exercise, being in nature and quiet contemplation as well as not to over-do social activity. It’s vital to learning how to listen to your body and set clear boundaries with people or situations that are draining.

Parenting tips for highly sensitive empathic children

Empathic children need to have their sensitivities respected and encouraged by the school. If this can happen in a school environment it can be very helpful. It’s a wonderful thing to have empathy encouraged as part of the educational system. The advantage of this is that the child learns to socialize with like minded children and peers. This can foster creativity and confidence. But home schooling is positive in certain cases where you intuitively tune in and feel this will be most helpful for the child. I applaud your efforts to tune in to find the right school for your daughter. Try that and see how it goes. You can always switch to home schooling later.

What does it mean when my hands become hot?

Hot hands can mean that your hands are getting energized. Some people find this uncomfortable, and shake their hands after healing sessions to dispel the energy. Healing energy can take the form of coolness too, so don’t think that just because your hands aren’t hot that nothing’s happening.

Why can’t narcissists take responsibility for their actions?

In Emotional Freedom, I write a lot about narcissists! Narcissists are deceptive because they can be so charming and intelligent until you don’t go along with their program. Then they become cold, punching, and rejecting. Narcissists will always make the problem about YOU, and don’t take their responsibility for their part in any issue. Narcissists lack empathy, which means they don’t really care about what you are feeling. This is important to recognize when dealing with this type of person.

What is the meaning of deep, unspoken connections with people?

Sometimes we have an intuitive connection with people without even saying a word. This can be a deja-vu, when you feel like you know someone and the connection is more like a reunion. However, with these connections, it is very important to determine if the other person reciprocates. You can sense that you are kindred spirits but this must go further than just potential. For good friendships to work, someone’s loving, respectful behavior towards you must back up the sense of connection. If the connection is real, but not actualized, keep moving towards nurturing supportive people. If the connection is mutual, these are precious friendships that can endure through hard times and good.