Judith Orloff: The Healing Power of Empathy

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April 16, 2024

Judith Orloff: The Healing Power of Empathy

Judith Orloff April 16, 2024

When we think about those special traits or abilities we consider to be “superpowers,” empathy isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, empathy is often seen as a weakness, not a strength. Through her bestselling books and her work training new psychiatrists, Dr. Judith Orloff is helping to change the narrative around empathy. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Dr. Orloff about her new book, The Genius of Empathy, and how we can each begin to cultivate an empathic style that supports a thriving life. 

Tune in now for their conversation on how empathy opens the heart and fosters healing, the beauty of self-empathy and how it differs from self-compassion, empathy overwhelm, the four styles of empathy and how to identify your own, boundary-setting tools for empaths, the empathy spectrum, empathy deficiency disorders, trauma and empathy, letting go of resentment and helping it let go of you, empathic attunement, the practice of shielding, transmitting empathic love to people and places in need, observing without absorbing, and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Judith Orloff, MD, is a leading voice in the fields of medicine, psychiatry, empathy, and intuitive development. A member of the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Staff, her bestselling books include The Empath’s Survival Guide, Thriving as an EmpathEmotional Freedom, Positive Energy, Dr. Judith Orloff’s Guide to Intuitive Healing, and Second Sight. She specializes in treating empaths and sensitive people in her private practice. Find more inspiration at Dr. Orloff’s website, drjudithorloff.com.

Author photo © Bob Riha Jr

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Judith Orloff: The Healing Power of Empathy

When we think about those special traits or abilities we consider to be “superpowers,” empathy isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, empathy is often seen as a weakness, not a strength. Through her bestselling books and her work training new psychiatrists, Dr. Judith Orloff is helping to change the narrative around empathy. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Dr. Orloff about her new book, The Genius of Empathy, and how we can each begin to cultivate an empathic style that supports a thriving life. 

Tune in now for their conversation on how empathy opens the heart and fosters healing, the beauty of self-empathy and how it differs from self-compassion, empathy overwhelm, the four styles of empathy and how to identify your own, boundary-setting tools for empaths, the empathy spectrum, empathy deficiency disorders, trauma and empathy, letting go of resentment and helping it let go of you, empathic attunement, the practice of shielding, transmitting empathic love to people and places in need, observing without absorbing, and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Embracing Empathy as Your Superpower

What do I do when a loved one is suffering? How do I have empathy if I’m getting a divorce or losing my job? If my family treats me unfairly? Or if I’m emotionally overwhelmed or in chronic pain?

If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, I’ve written The Genius of Empathy for you. It also includes a beautiful foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In the book, I present empathy as a healing force that helps you overcome obstacles in your life with dignity, grace, and power. As a psychiatrist and empath, I draw from my insights and present techniques from my own life and from the healing journeys of my clients, students, and readers. As I say in the book, “Empathy softens the struggle, quiets the unkind voices, and lets you befriend yourself again.”

Empathy doesn’t mean being “on call” 24 hours a day for those in need. Empaths can often wear an invisible sign that says, “I can help you.” However, if you want to heal yourself, have better relationships, and contribute to healing our tumultuous world, you must learn how to set healthy boundaries and observe, not absorb, the energy of others.

To start taking a more proactive role in how much empathy you give others at any one time, I suggest that you keep in mind the following “rights.” They will help you maintain a healthy mindset and prevent or lessen any empathy overwhelm that might arise:

  • I have the right to say a loving, positive “no” or “no, thank-you.”
  • I have the right to set limits with how long I listen to people’s problems.
  • I have the right to rest and not be always available to everyone.
  • I have the right to quiet peacefulness in my home and in my heart.

Practice: Take a Sound Break to Repair Yourself

Plan periods of quiet to recover from our noisy, fast-paced world. This helps calm your nervous system and your mind, an act of self-empathy.

It’s rejuvenating to schedule at least five minutes of quiet or, even better, complete silence for an hour or more where no one can intrude. As I do, hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your office or bedroom door. During this reset period, you’ve officially escaped from the world. You’re free of demands and noxious sounds. You may also get noise canceling earbuds to block out noise.

If too much quiet is unsettling, go for a walk in a local park or a peaceful neighborhood to decompress from excessive sound stimulation. Simply focus on putting one foot in front of the other, which is called mindful walking. Nothing to do. Nothing to be. Move slowly and refrain from talking. If thoughts come, keep refocusing on your breath, each inhalation and exhalation. Just letting life settle will regenerate your body and empathic heart.

Embracing your empathy does require courage. It can feel scary. If you’re ready to discover its healing power, I would be honored to be your guide to helping you in overcoming your fears and obstacles, and enhancing this essential skill for long-term change.

Though many of us have never met, I feel connected to you. Connection is what fuels life. While empathy is what allows you to find peace. With both, we can make sense of this world together.

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Ignite empathy as a superpower for personal healing, deeper relationships, and more potent work in the world. New York Times bestselling author Dr. Judith Orloff draws on insights from neuroscience, psychology, and energy medicine to show us how to access our sensitivities, soothe our nervous systems, and embody our most fierce and authentic selves.

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5 Ways to Combat Energy Vampires This Holiday Season

For empaths and sensitive people, the holidays can be extra stressful because they are exposed to more socializing and holiday events. This means interacting with relatives, friends or acquaintances who may be energy vampires. Since empaths are emotional sponges, they tend to absorb other people’s negative energy unless they have a plan to approach the holiday season. Here are some tips from my book: Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People.

Identify the energy vampires in your life

In your journal, write down the name of five energy vampires in your life that you may encounter over the holiday season. Then, write down what type of energy vampire they are so you know exactly how they drain your energy. For instance, The Criticizer: For instance they might say, “Oh dear, it looks like you’ve put on a few pounds!.” Or the Drama Queen, Controller, Narcissist or Passive Aggressive.

Journal about strategies to use

It’s important to pre-plan the strategies you use with these people. Write these in your journal. For instance, if you’re going to encounter a drama queen/king, tell yourself “I will not ask them how they are doing or look deeply into their eyes to encourage long stories. I will not feed into the drama queen/kings antics.” Map out your strategies so you are prepared.

Set clear boundaries

Boundaries are essential for all empaths and sensitive people to learn. Because we wear invisible signs around our necks saying “I can help you”, people flock from far and wide to tell us their life stories. Thus, it is important to set boundaries with energy vampires, and limit the time you interact with them. If necessary, escape into the bathroom for some quiet time.

No is a complete sentence

When dealing with energy vampires, such as rageaholics, it is important to learn how to say “no” to someone dumping anger on you. As an empath, anger feels toxic to me so I don’t allow it in my vicinity. If you’re going to encounter an angry person who tends to dump, be prepared to say “no” to them and politely excuse yourself to talk to someone else.

Notice your emotional triggers

We tend to be drained if our own unresolved issues are activated. So, it is healthy to examine your emotional triggers so you can’t be drained by people pushing your buttons. For instance, are you triggered by sadness, depression or anxiety? Or when someone tries to control you? Identify your triggers and begin to heal them in your private meditations or with a guide. This self-healing will help you be a more empowered empath!

Judith OrloffJudith Orloff, MD, is a leading voice in the fields of medicine, psychiatry, and intuitive development. An assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, her bestselling books include Emotional Freedom, Positive Energy, Dr. Judith Orloff’s Guide to Intuitive Healing, and Second Sight. Find more inspiration at Dr. Orloff’s website drjudithorloff.com.

 

The community here at Sounds True wishes you a lovely holiday season! We are happy to collaborate with some of our Sounds True authors to offer you wisdom and practices as we move into this time together; please enjoy this blog series for your holiday season. 

To help encourage you and your loved ones to explore new possibilities this holiday season, we’re offering 40% off nearly all of our programs, books, and courses sitewide. May you find the wisdom to light your way.

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We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com

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  • What keeps me going when the world breaks my heart is…

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

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