Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s New York Times Bestseller, “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” (Three Rivers Press, 2011)
Empaths are highly sensitive, finely tuned instruments when it comes to emotions. They feel everything, sometimes to an extreme, and are less apt to intellectualize feelings. Intuition is the filter through which they experience the world. Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually attuned, and good listeners. If you want heart, empaths have got it. Through thick and thin, they’re there for you, world-class nurturers.
The trademark of empaths is that they know where you’re coming from. Some can do this without taking on people’s feelings. However, for better or worse, others, like myself and many of my patients, can become angst-sucking sponges. This often overrides the sublime capacity to absorb positive emotions and all that is beautiful. If empaths are around peace and love, their bodies assimilate these and flourish. Negativity, though, often feels assaultive, exhausting. Thus, they’re particularly easy marks for emotional vampires, whose fear or rage can ravage empaths. As a subconscious defense, they may gain weight as a buffer. When thin, they’re more vulnerable to negativity, a missing cause of overeating explored in my book Positive Energy. Plus, an empath’s sensitivity can be overwhelming in romantic relationships; many stay single since they haven’t learned to negotiate their special cohabitation needs with a partner.
When empaths absorb the impact of stressful emotions, it can trigger panic attacks, depression, food, sex and drug binges, and a plethora of physical symptoms that defy traditional medical diagnosis from fatigue to agorophobia. Since I’m an empath, I want to help all my empath-patients cultivate this capacity and be comfortable with it.
Empathy doesn’t have to make you feel too much all the time. Now that I can center myself and refrain from shouldering civilization’s discontents, empathy continues to make me freer, igniting my compassion, vitality, and sense of the miraculous.
To determine whether you’re an emotional empath, take the following quiz.
QUIZ: AM I AN EMPATH?
If you answer “yes” to 1-3 of these questions, you’re at least part empath. Responding “yes” to more than 3 indicates that you’ve found your emotional type.
Recognizing that you’re an empath is the first step in taking charge of your emotions instead of constantly drowning in them. Staying on top of empathy will improve your self-care and relationships.
Emotional Action Step. How To Find Balance
Practice these strategies to center yourself.
Over time, I suggest adding to this list to keep yourself covered. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you’re on emotional overload. With pragmatic strategies to cope, empaths can have quicker retorts, feel safer, and their talents can blossom.
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Judith Orloff, MD
is author of the national bestseller The Power of Surrender: Let Go and Energize Your Relationships, Success, and Well-Being
. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and an intuitive healer. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating empaths (highly sensitive people). An Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, she passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, the Oprah Magazine and USA Today. Connect with Judith on Facebook
. To learn more about empaths and the power of intuition, as well as Dr. Orloff's books and workshop schedule, visit her website.