Summary of “The Empath’s Survival Guide” by Judith Orloff: Psychiatrist, hypersensitivity specialist and empath herself, the author draws on her experience to demonstrate how this type of sensitivity, often perceived as a weakness, can, in reality, with the methods and knowledge she shares, prove to be a factor of self-fulfilment and happiness.
By Judith Orloff, 2018, 337 pages.
Review and summary of “The Empath’s Survival Guide” by Judith Orloff
Introduction – Preface by Saverio Tomasella
The preface of “The Empath’s Survival Guide” is by Saverio Tomasella, PhD in Psychology and founder of the observatory of ultrasensitivity.
- Ultrasensitivity is defined as a combination of hypersensitivity and hyperempathy.
- The Empath’s Survival Guide is a book that shares a humanistic and caring approach. It is a book that will help the reader to:
- Understand the specificities of hyperempathetic and hypersensitive people.
- Overcome the associated difficulties: for this, the author shares what she calls “survival strategies” throughout the chapters.
Chapter 1: Are You an Empath? – Introduction to Empathy
1.1. Who is Judith Orloff?
In the first chapter of “The Empath’s Survival Guide,” Judith Orloff, the author begins by introducing herself. She tells us that:
- Judith Orloff studied traditional medicine for 14 years before becoming a psychiatrist.
- She has mainly practiced with highly sensitive clients.
- She is an empath herself.
As such, her personal and professional experience has allowed her to define the common characteristics of an empath.
1.2. What are the characteristics of an empath?
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” states that hypersensitivity affects 20% of the population.
An empath has an overactive nervous system, unable to filter sensory overload. As a result, they:
- Absorb energies, both positive or stressful, with such perspicacity “that it would be equivalent to having not five, but fifty fingers on each hand.”
- Often experience a form of chronic exhaustion that causes withdrawal.
On the positive side (not always recognized at first but a real quality), an empath experiences passion with great intensity.
In short, empaths are “sponges that absorb the joys and sorrows of those around them.” They sense everything, usually in an exacerbated way and without being able to maintain a healthy distance between themselves and others. As a result, the empath feels overwhelmed and may feel drained by this overstimulation and sensory overload.
1.3. What was the purpose of writing “The Empath’s Survival Guide“?
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” was written by Judith Orloff for:
- Empaths⇒ the goal is to help them protect themselves from the negative aspects related to hypersensitivity, enjoy its positive aspects and thus become happy, balanced and empowered empaths.
- Those close to the empath (family, colleagues, managers, spouses) ⇒ the objective is to help them understand what empaths go through, to better accept them, to better communicate with them, and to be present in their daily lives.
- Conveying a message of hope and acceptance⇒ the author emphasizes that sensitivity, too often misunderstood, undervalued, and even shunned, has many advantages. The empath reader can then become aware of the “valuable skills” and strengths with which their empathy provides them.
1.4. The empath child
Judith Orloff explains here how, like most empathetic children, she never really felt like she belonged as a child.
- Her childhood: the author recalls times when crowds made her weary, anxious, and want to run away.
- Her adolescence: during which she consumed a lot of drugs in order, she says, to dull her sensitivity.
Judith Orloff confides to us that one day she was the victim of a car accident and miraculously escaped unharmed. Following this event, her parents forced her to see a psychiatrist. The latter managed to make her come to terms with her sensitivity. This is how the author began to accept herself as she is.
“If you feel like you don’t belong in this world, you’re here to create a better one. […] Empathy is the medicine our world needs.”
1.5. The empath experience
Judith Orloff distinguishes between “ordinary empathy” and “hyperempathy”(what the empath experiences).
The points that differentiate empaths from ordinary empathic people are as follows.
- Truly sense the energy, emotions(joy, sadness…), and physical symptoms of those around them in their own body.
- Can pick up on the nonverbal cues of those around them (tone of voice, movement, silence, etc.).
- Will first feel before thinking and reflecting.
- Possess certain traits of a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP): a low threshold of tolerance to stimulation, a need for solitude, increased sensitivity to light, sounds and smells, and an aversion to large groups.
- Need more time to relax after a busy day.
- Appreciate nature and quiet places.
- Are able to sense “subtle energy” (called “shakti” or “prana” in the East) and ambient energies with increased perspicacity.
- Can have deep intuitive and spiritual experiences(communicating with animals, nature, and spirit guides).
The author specifies that hyperempathy and hypersensitivity are not mutually exclusive: “it is possible to be both at the same time.”
1.6. The main types of empaths
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” describes in detail 3 major forms of hyperempathy.
Empaths can be:
- Intuitive, which include telepathic, precognitive, dream, mediumship, plant, earth, and animal empaths.
We may recognize ourselves in one or more forms of hyperempathy. For Judith Orloff, it is useful to know what makes up each type of empath because it is by discovering our particular aptitudes that we can realize how they can truly enrich our lives and those of our entourage.
1.7. The relational modes of empaths: introverts and extroverts
Some empaths are introverts; others are extroverts. It is also possible to be both, depending on the context.
- Introverted empaths:
- Are not very attracted to informal conversations and social get-togethers (large parties, gatherings).
- In these situations, they remain often quiet and prefer to leave early.
- Extroverted empaths :
- Are more talkative and interact more with others.
- Enjoy informal interaction more so.
- Are able to interact longer without feeling drained or overstimulated.
1.8. How does one become an empath?
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” indicates two contributing factors:
- Through genetics: some babies are born highly sensitive. These are infants who will react strongly, in an innate way, to light, temperature, touch, smells, movement, and sounds.
- Through upbringing: Children who are victims of neglect or abuse in particular can become more sensitive than others as they grow up.
1.9. The science of empathy
Judith Orloff describes here five major scientific discoveries concerning empathy:
- Mirror neurons: empaths are hyperresponsive to these brain cells that are responsible for compassion. This explains why the emotions of others resonate so deeply with empaths.
- Electromagnetic fields: created by the heart and brain, these electromagnetic fields send “information about thoughts and emotions.” Empaths are particularly receptive to them. They are also more reactive than others to changes in the electromagnetic fields of the Earth and the sun.
- Emotional contagion: this term is used to refer to people who pick up on the emotions of those around them (e.g., when an infant’s cry causes other babies to cry, when an employee transmits their anxiety to their colleagues simply by expressing it strongly). The author explains that synchronizing our moods with those of others is a critical skill for quality relationships. However, empaths can quickly become infected with negativity if they don’t take care to surround themselves with positive people.
- Dopamine: by providing pleasure, this neurotransmitter increases neuronal activity. Empaths are very sensitive to dopamine, and introverted empaths are even more so. Therefore, a small amount of dopamine is enough to make them happy.
- Synesthesia: scientists believe that empaths have “visuotactile synesthesia”, or “mirror-touch synesthesia”, a neurological mechanism that combines two senses in the brain (e.g., seeing a color while listening to music or pronouncing words).
1.10. The impact of empathy on daily life
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” lists here the most common ways in which empathy impacts on our daily lives in health, relationships, and in our professional lives.
Empaths are subject to:
- Chronic fatigue, exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed;
- Chronic pain, fibromyalgia, migraines;
- Adrenal fatigue;
- Anxiety, depression, panic attacks;
- Hyperphagia and weight gain;
- Addictions to alcohol, drugs, food, sex, compulsive shopping, or other behaviors designed to numb sensitivity.
Relationships and love
- Tend to become attached to unavailable, narcissistic, or destructive partners.
- Are loving people who expect reciprocal feelings.
- Absorb emotions from their partner and children.
- Often feel drained and overwhelmed by their parenting responsibilities.
In their professional life, empaths may:
- Quickly feel drained by energy vampires: it is crucial that they know how to set boundaries to better protect themselves.
- Have extraordinary abilities of perception and heightened intuition: they are sometimes able to perceive the energy of others, to experience premonitions and vivid dreams.
- Be particularly sensitive to animal communication.
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” offers a series of questions to self-assess our degree of empathy. According to Judith Orloff, identifying this level of empathy will then allow us to determine our needs and the strategies to put in place to best meet them.
1.11. The advantages and challenges of being an empath
According to Judith Orloff, empaths:
- Have “a huge heart” and instinctively help people in need.
- Are dreamers, idealists, passionate, deep, creative, loyal.
- Demonstrate compassion and value the emotions of others.
- Generally have great intuition, an overview of events, and a fine perception of the energy of those around them.
- They are very spiritual.
- Feel particularly comfortable in nature: they sense the therapeutic and energizing benefits of water and may have strong intuitive bonds with their pets.
To fully appreciate the potential of their personality, according to Judith Orloff, empaths must develop new skills.
The author begins by listing the most common challenges faced by empaths:
- Absorption of stress and negativity from others (family, media, etc.);
- Persistent and intense emotional effects of being around too many people;
- Hypervigilance, sometimes perceived by others as a desire on our part to keep them at bay;
- Emotional exhaustion because their great compassion often attracts the trust of others;
- Loneliness and isolation;
- Hypersensitivity to touch, taste, hearing (loud noises), smell (chemicals, perfumes…), to bright light, extreme temperatures, air conditioning, thunderstorms, strong winds, full moon, etc.;
- Specific needs in intimate relationships (a private space, sleeping alone, etc.).
To address these challenges, “The Empath’s Survival Guide” recommends:
- Allowing yourself some alone time every day in order to recharge your batteries.
- Setting boundaries and not giving “too much.”
- Communicating with your partner about this.
Judith Orloff explains that the challenges of being an empath can also be different depending on the emapth’s gender (in the West).
- Male empath
They do not talk much about their sensitivity because of shame and fear of not being “man enough” (boys are taught at a very young age that “strong men don’t cry”). However, the author insists that, for their own balance, men should not deny their sensitivity. In fact, those who have “the strength to show their sensitivity and the courage to show their vulnerability” are pleasant and compassionate companions, friends, and leaders.
- Female empath
Although their emotions and “feminine intuition” are more accepted in our society, women are often afraid of being judged, abandoned, or misunderstood if they openly express their sensitivity. However, it is essential that they express their emotional needs, as the nature of hyperempathy can lead to codependency.
1.12. Protection strategies
“Although society sometimes suggests that empaths are “too sensitive” and recommends that we “toughen up”, I encourage you to develop your sensitivity while remaining perfectly centered. Our hyperempathy is a huge asset if we know how to use it. We are not crazy, neurotic, weak, or hypochondriacs. We are wonderful people with a gift that we must learn to manage.”
Avoiding sensory overload
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” invites us to first identify the factors that make our sensory overload symptoms worse and those that make them better. This step will then help us to find our balance. The author states:
“We empaths approach things from an ‘all or nothing’ perspective. We are either very active or we retreat to our safe haven. It is essential to structure your schedule by finding the right balance between action and inaction.”
Practicing two specific visualization techniques in order to refocus
To refocus, the author invites the empath reader to practice, in a relaxed state, two visualization exercises:
- The protective shield: this consists of visualizing a beautiful, thick shield of pink or white light. This shield completely surrounds our body and blocks negative, toxic, and intrusive energies, while allowing positive and beneficial energies to circulate.
Eating healthy and avoiding stressful situations
For Judith Orloff, it is necessary to plan moments of well-being in our schedule. These moments can be silent breaks, meditation, physical exercise, massages, baths, time shared with positive people or contact with nature (earthing by walking barefoot or lying on the ground, for example).
1.13. The blessing of being an empath
Judith Orloff concludes this first chapter by reminding us that the gifts of empathy are an opportunity for us as well as for others:
“It is crucial for us to learn how to free ourselves internally and thus shine our power in the world. Empaths and all sensitive people are at the forefront of a new way of being for humankind.”
Chapter 2 – Empath, Emotions, and Health – How to Stop Absorbing Other People’s Distress?
“Empaths have heightened physical sensitivity,” says Judith Orloff. In other words, they sense everything. Vitality, happiness and love of others, as well as their stress, physical discomfort and negative emotions (frustration, anger, fear, etc.).”
To better cope with this sensitivity, Judith Orloff’s solution is to learn to:
- Stop absorbing the suffering and emotions of others ;
- Stay grounded when we are in a stimulus-rich environment.
2.1. The limitations of traditional medicine
Unlike many psychiatrists, Judith Orloff does not recommend antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs to deal with the emotional overload associated with hyperempathy.
She explains that she regrets that conventional medicine:
- Labels what it does not understand and what is out of the ordinary as pathological. The author believes that empaths “possess characteristics that are part of the normal continuum of human experience and reflect the wonderful diversity of our species.” Their sensitivity is “a source of strength, love and vitality,” not a disease.
- Completely ignores subtle energy– the life force in and around our bodies – in treating patients’ health problems (unlike traditional Chinese medicine).
2.2. Determining our type of sensitivity: physical or emotional empath?
To better protect us from exhaustion, the author advises us, first of all, to identify our type of sensitivity. To do this, she suggests two self-evaluation tests to determine if our hyperempathy is rather:
- Physical ⇒ sensing the symptoms of others in our body,
- Emotional ⇒ perception of others’ emotions.
- Or both.
2.3. Empathic illnesses
Judith Orloff uses the term “empathic illness” to refer to “the feeling of a person experiencing symptoms that do not actually belong to them.”
The author explains here that these empathic illnesses can sometimes trigger “real” diseases: chronic, autoimmune diseases, chronic depression, adrenal and chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, panic attacks, and phobias (social phobia, agoraphobia, etc.).
2.4. Hyperempathy and medication
According to Judith Orloff:
- Rather than administering medication, it is far more appropriate to teach sensitive people with empathic illnesses methods to stop absorbing energy and stress from others.
- Antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs are only useful to rebalance biochemistry (if an empath is experiencing chronic exhaustion due to stress or trauma, for example). They should be taken in appropriate doses (a low dose is already very effective for empaths) and for a short period of time.
- It is preferable to call upon a doctor who is familiar with subtle energy.
More generally, it is important to understand that empaths have legitimate needs, and that instead of wanting to “be like everyone else,” one should attempt to respect these needs.
2.5. Hyperempathy and adrenal fatigue
Adrenal fatigue is more prevalent in empaths because they are more exposed to stress. It manifests itself in exhaustion, aches and pains, anxiety, concentration problems and insomnia.
This section, “The Empath’s Survival Guide” lists several solutions for dealing with adrenal fatigue. These tips are primarily rooted in our lifestyle and diet: eat whole foods, rich in B vitamins, take vitamin C, use pink Himalayan salt, exercise, meditate, monitor cortisol levels (and if necessary, use natural hormone replacement therapy), rest, avoid “energy vampires”, stay positive, take care of yourself, etc.
2.6. Strategies for chasing away toxic energy
Judith Orloff outlines several strategies to help us free ourselves from negative energy and stop absorbing the stress or symptoms of others:
- Ask yourself if the emotion or symptom you are feeling really belongs to you or if it belongs to someone else instead.
- By observing, for example, a sudden physical or mental change in the presence of a particular person.
- It is possible that the emotion or symptom belongs to both.
Take a deep breath and say, “I am sending this negativity back into the universe.”
Then, while visualizing the toxic energy accumulated in our lumbar vertebrae subside, say: “I release you.” Repeat this mantra 3 times, out loud, with confidence.
- Stay away from the source of potential discomfort
The author suggests limiting physical contact (at least 5 meters) and visual contact (energy is transmitted through the eyes and touch).
- Detoxify with water
Through Epsom salt baths, thalassotherapy, or balneotherapy, for example.
- Be firm, consistent, and kind when setting boundaries.
We can use formulas such as: “I’m sorry, but I’m not well enough to party tonight” or “Let’s talk about this when you’re calmer, because I can’t stand the shouting” or “I want to meditate with a bit of quiet time.” Or simply say “no” without adding anything else.
- Imagine cutting the cord that connects us to someone
When we feel too strongly about someone’s negative emotional or physical state, we can close our eyes, imagine a cord of light between our abdomens and see ourselves cutting it with a pair of scissors.
- Enjoy solitude to refocus
It’s good to take time for yourself to recharge or refocus during quiet moments throughout the day.
- Spend time in nature and practice grounding
The author recommends grounding exercises and regular retreats in an oasis of calm to recover, rest, deepen one’s spirituality and intuition, slow down one’s pace of life, and recharge.
- Get enough sleep and take energizing naps in a calm environment
- Disconnect from social media from time to time
We can fast from technology from time to time.
Travel without stress
The author lists several tips for:
- Traveling more comfortably without feeling stressed by airport crowds and lack of space on planes.
- Conserving our energy in a hotel room.
- Practice the “three-minute heart meditation”
This meditation is done with a palm on your heart chakra, in the middle of your chest. You must then concentrate on an image that you thoroughly enjoy (a sunset, a rose, the ocean, or the face of a child) and fully embrace these sensations of love, calm, warmth, openness, and security that come over us.
- Fully inhabit your body
A meditation technique is proposed here for becoming aware of one’s body, feeling in harmony with it and well embodied (body-mind connection). The author also invites us to practice positive autosuggestion, which consists of replacing our negative ideas with positive thoughts.
Chapter 3 – Empaths and Addiction – From Alcohol to Overeating
In this chapter of the “Empath’s Survival Guide“, Judith Orloff explains why empaths often face addiction problems (alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling and compulsive shopping, work, emotional dependence, social networks, video games, etc.).
In her opinion, these addictions develop because they are, for empaths, a way (not always done consciously) to overcome their heightened sensitivity, the effects of their sensory overload, and to silence their thoughts and emotions.
Judith Orloff then highlights three areas to work on in order to deal with our addictions effectively.
3.1. Renouncing self-medication
In this section, the author relates her personal history with addictions as an introverted empath. She describes how alcohol and drugs brought her huge relief (finally feeling normal when she didn’t fit in) and how these products served as an anesthetic to her hypersensitivity while leading her to helplessly self-destruct.
Judith Orloff recounts how she finally kicked her severe addictions after a terrible car accident when she consulted a psychiatrist, who guided her along her journey.
Judith develops three points from her experience:
- It is necessary to determine how predisposed we are to developing addictions in order better manage our hypersensitivity. For this, the book proposes a self-assessment questionnaire.
- You must realize that “nothing external has the power to make you feel better about yourself or your sensitivity.” The solution lies in the inner journey, in knowing yourself better, in loving yourself and accepting yourself as you are. “The more you run away from your sensitivity, the more your discomfort will grow,” says the author.
- Group meetings can be helpful in managing an addiction over time.
3.2. Finding comfort in spirituality
For Judith Orloff, “spirituality allows us to connect to the energy of love and to regain our power.” It brings us a sense of peace and security.
Therefore, the author invites us to engage our spirituality. This can be done in various ways: meditation, prayer, spiritual readings, religious music, contact with nature or meetings (such as Alcoholics Anonymous with their “12-step program”).
In this part of The Empath’s Survival Guide, the author presents a routine (5 minutes a day) for those who want to open up to a higher power.
3.3. Avoiding the trap of overeating
Overeating and food addiction are common eating disorders among empaths. In fact, for them, it is a way, once again, to protect themselves from sensory overload and negative energies.
The solutions lie in a more balanced and personalized diet (choosing the foods that best suit us, avoiding those that increase our stress) and grounding and protection exercises.
The reader is first invited to answer several questions aimed at assessing his or her empath behavior towards food.
Next, “The Empath’s Survival Guide” lists 10 concrete recommendations for those who compensate with food:
- Do breathing exercises to reduce stress.
- Drink water.
- Limit sugar intake.
- Consume protein.
- Be aware of hypoglycemia.
- Eat plenty of vegetables.
- Choose good fats.
- Reduce caffeine intake.
- Choose high-energy foods.
- Test for food allergies.
In addition to the above ten recommendations, Judith Orloff suggests a technique that she believes works rather well, which is to keep a meditation cushion near your refrigerator; when you are tempted to overeat, sit on the cushion, close your eyes, and identify the cause for your urge to eat. Then, imagine your body flooded by a wave of love and feel satiated by this comforting love.
Chapter 4 – Empaths, Love, and Sex
Even if we feel understood by a spouse who respects our sensitivity, the very close connection generated by the intimacy of a couple can be complicated to manage for the empath.
“Empaths…are often torn between the desire to be loved and the desire to be alone. We want the other to need us, but we refuse to let the other’s needs become a burden. We want a fulfilling inner life, but we also want company.”
The solution? Learn to deal with our sensitivities and protect them while setting clear boundaries with our partners.
This fourth chapter of The Empath’s Survival Guide explains how to achieve this.
4.1. How to choose an emotionally compatible partner wisely
Understanding the issues empaths face in their relationships
In order to be able to engage in a fulfilling relationship, the empath must first understand his or her relational mode. They need to understand that they are intensely involved in their relationships and that they may feel drained or overwhelmed by the high stimulation of being in a relationship.
In fact, the closer the empath is to someone, the greater their empathy and anxieties become. This is why, quite often, empaths choose people who are not free or who are afraid of commitment and leave their partner as soon as real intimacy is established.
For Judith Orloff, it is crucial to make sure that our partner will respect our sensitivities. The empath must also be able to:
- Establish mutual understanding within the couple by explaining what it is like to have a deep sense of others’ emotions.
- Find the right balance between the moments of solitude they need, those dedicated to their spouse, and those with friends.
- Set boundaries and express their needs before committing to true intimacy.
The author also proposes a self-assessment exercise to better determine our likely empath personality with regard to relationships.
Know your partner’s emotional type to better understand your interactions
If we don’t feel a true “harmony between someone’s words, actions and energy,” the author cautions us to follow our intuition:
“Empaths feel a soul connection with others that is difficult to articulate, as it is primarily a matter of the energy emitted by the other. […] Trust your intuition.”
As for the question, what kind of person is best suited for an empath, Judith Orloff answers that it depends on your temperament and your needs. As such, it’s up to you to define the type of person with whom you could become true partners in the long run.
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” lays out three profiles for our better understanding:
- The intellectual or intense thinker: this personality is very good at analyzing things. Their rational thinking and logic counterbalance the emotional intensity felt by the empath while remaining connected to reality.
- The empath/emotional sponge: passionate, caring, helpful, the empath partner feels the emotions of his or her spouse with great perception. With mutual understanding and space, it is quite possible for two empaths to have a healthy relationship.
- The rock/strong/silent: this type of partner is rational, reliable, and stable, which is reassuring to the empath. However, the latter may become frustrated if the rock is slow to open his or her heart and may find him or her too emotionally closed off or even boring. The empath and the rock balance each other out and can therefore make for a “great couple.”
Here, Judith Orloff recommends assessing the emotional quotient of our partner by answering a questionnaire.
4.2. How to live a fulfilling emotional life when you are an empath
According to research, the specific needs of hypersensitive people generate a certain number of difficulties in their love life, both for them and for their partners. Authentic exchanges between partners are highly recommended for a fulfilling couple life. “The Empath’s Survival Guide” shares 12 additional keys for a happy emotional life.
The 12 secrets of happy empath couples
- Regularly take time out to be alone
To take stock, decompress and meditate, in parallel with the moments of relaxation shared as a couple.
- Agree on the amount of time to dedicate to social life
Considering that the empath, especially introverts, have less aptitude for social life than those who do not share this sensitivity.
- Decide, with your partner, each one’s own space
Then, arrange it and establish rules so that you can isolate yourself when needed.
- Sleep in separate beds or rooms
Empaths who are not used to sharing the same bed can allow themselves to sleep separately or, if our partner is not in favor of it, find a compromise (e.g.: sleep together four nights a week and alone the rest of the time).
- Communicate by addressing one problem at a time
Without repeating it and without putting pressure on your partner.
- Don’t take things personally (even if they are)
Try to react less to comments so you don’t feel hurt as often or as intensely.
- Make requests, not demands
Using the sandwich method, for example, which consists of making a request between two positive comments.
- Make our partner accept our intolerance to loud shouting and noises
If necessary, forbid shouting at home.
- Do not try to please everyone or to cure your partner
The author invites us to practice “loving detachment”: we must refrain from interfering in his or her life and convince ourselves that our partner is capable of resolving his or her situation without our advice (which he or she did not ask for). In this way, we will not absorb their stress.
- Turn down sound and lights in your home
The goal is to create a peaceful and quiet atmosphere. Express this need to your partner.
- Negotiate, with your partner, a daily time to take a bath or a shower
Water is a source of energy and intense well-being for the empath.
- Play and have fun with your partner
And let them discover your inner child.
Empaths and sexuality
Judth Orloff lays out four ideas on this subject:
- Because they are very sensitive to the energy of others, it is rare for hypersensitive people to have “casual” sexual partners.
- Some empaths are what the author calls “sexualempaths“: among these people, the empathic gifts are amplified when they have sex, so they feel stress or ecstasy with great intensity during sexual intercourse.
- Tantra is an interesting option to practice (in a workshop for example) for:
- “Increasing sexual energy”, letting it flow and “increasing its power of attraction.”
- Learn to “be in harmony with your body.”
- “Draw on your sexual and spiritual energies” and free yourself from old traumas, destructive relationship patterns, or forms of numbness that prevent you from feeling.
- Empaths are fulfilled when they experience relationships that combine “heart energy” with “sexual energy.“
- Expressing and cherishing your relationship needs
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” invites us to identify our relationship needs with a meditation exercise. The idea is to listen to our deepest self by asking ourselves a number of questions and listening to our intuition.
Then, to discuss with our partner about the needs discovered during this meditation so that he or she can better respond to them. If you are single, identifying such needs beforehand should help you to find a more suitable partner.
Chapter 5 – Protecting Yourself from Narcissists and Other Energy Vampires
In this fifth chapter of “The Empath’s Survival Guide,” Judith Orloff instructs us on how to:
- Recognize energy vampires: she proposes a specific exercise to detect them.
- Navigate them and protect ourselves from them: energy vampires are attracted, according to the author, “by the open and loving heart of the empath.” However, in our personal and professional lives, they can be very harmful: they can not only drain our physical and emotional energy but also attack us by using denigration, blame, or humiliation.
5.1. The 7 types of energy vampires particularly dangerous for empaths
The author warns empaths that the narcissist and the empath are often very attracted to each other. However, the former (who suffers, according to scientific studies, from “empathy deficient disorder”) can be very destructive to the latter, who represents a perfect target for the narcissist. In addition, empaths will have a lot of trouble getting away from narcissists, who often engage in psychological harassment (called “cognitive hijacking”).
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” urges us empaths to protect ourselves from narcissists. To do so, one must:
- Avoid this type of person(as a partner, supervisor, etc.), and if it is too late, to cut all ties as soon as possible and turn the page.
- Do not expect anything from them in terms of respecting our sensitivities, or on an emotional level.
- Be very careful not to let yourself be manipulated(one way to protect yourself is to flatter the ego of the narcissist).
In conflicts, the rageaholic uses methods of blame, attack, and control. They often seek to impose their point of view by shouting and tend to take out their nerves on the other person.
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” lists several tips to protect yourself from the rageaholic:
- Make it known that you can hear him/her by saying, for example: “I want to help you, but it is difficult for me to listen to you when you are in such a state.”
- Prohibit, with those close to you, the use of yelling to resolve conflicts.
- Calm down when you feel shaken in order to temper your attack reaction.
- Speak with restraint(by phone, email, etc.).
- Let the other person’s anger pass without it building up within you in return.
- Leave or ask the person to leave if they don’t stop screaming.
Energy vampire victims do not take responsibility: they see their problems as being caused by others, whom they always imagine to be against them.
Empaths then exhaust themselves trying to solve their problems by playing the “compassionate rescuer.” It is common for the person with the victim profile to respond with “yes, but” to every solution offered by the empath. Keeping them at arm’s length is the best thing you can do to avoid becoming their “therapist” or creating a codependent relationship with them.
Here are some strategies for protecting yourself from victims suggested by The Empath’s Survival Guide:
- Set boundaries clearly and kindly or with nonverbal language (arms crossed, breaking eye contact, etc.).
- Limit phone contact(3 minutes maximum) by saying, for example: “My heart goes out to you, but I’m going to have to hang up soon if you keep repeating the same thing. Perhaps a therapist would be better suited to help you than I am.”
- Refuse with a smile.
The melodramatic is always sharing outlandish stories that are far too stimulating for the empath.
It is possible to protect yourself from the melodramatic. To do so:
- Don’t ask them how they are doing.
- Don’t get caught up in their stories: breathe and stay calm.
- Set boundaries in a friendly way.
The critic and the control freak
The critic or control freak can’t help but always give their opinion even though we don’t ask them. They often complain that we have done something – usually a minor detail – “wrong.”
To protect ourselves from the critics and control freaks, The Empath’s Survival Guide” suggests:
- Be firm, but don’t tell them what to do because that makes them defensive.
- Politely ask them to stop criticizing.
- To identify the self-esteem issue that has resurfaced and seek to repair it.
This energy vampire wears us down with their incessant talking. The chatterbox “latches onto” us and tells us about his/her life without letting us get a word in edgewise.
The ways to protect yourself from the chatterbox are to :
- Maintain, first of all, a physical distance from them, not to let them invade our personal space.
- Then, since they do not grasp our nonverbal language, we must interrupt them, while being tactful, otherwise, we risk angering them.
- Use humor to ask them for something.
- “ Expresses their anger by smiling.”
- Procrastinates, “forgets” when it’s convenient and then justifies broken promises with excuses. For example, they may forget our birthday when they know it is important to us, bring us cookies when we are on a diet, promise to come back to work on a joint project but keeps us waiting so that we have to constantly chase them down, etc.
- May sulk or make ambiguous remarks.
Empaths are much more direct. To protect themselves, they may:
- Talk to the passive-aggressive about his or her thought process, bringing up only one problem at a time so that the passive-aggressive does not feel attacked.
- Ask them to be clearer when they are evasive.
- List the people who energize us and those who drain us, and cut off the latter category of people whenever possible.
5.2. Recovering from an “emotional hangover”
After interacting with energy vampires, empaths may suffer from side effects, which the author calls “emotional hangover.”
To cure this emotional hangover, “The Empath’s Survival Guide” invites us to take time to recharge and to:
- Meditate in the shower by feeling the benefits of water on our body and mind.
- Use lithotherapy(black stones).
- Purify our space by burning aromatic and medicinal plants.
- Expel negative energy, dust, bad smells, pollen, cigarette smoke, mold, bacteria, and viruses… with a negative ion generator or a salt lamp.
- Light a white candle: calming and comforting, it also eradicates unpleasant energy.
- Use aromatherapy (rose water, essential oils, etc.) to purify the energy of the room and our own.
- Spend time in nature.
- Create a space for meditation.
- Talk to a friend or therapist about what is bothering us.
Chapter 6 – Empaths, Parenting, and Raising Sensitive Children
Empaths can be great parents. Their compassion, intuition, and ability will enable their children to embrace their own sensitivity. In addition, they “enjoy the role of self-giving” and can experience great joy.
However, for empaths, parenting can be a considerable overload (sensory stimulation, mental load). Parental responsibilities can be very stressful and must be managed.
Empaths need to really weigh the pros and cons before making their decision to have children or not.
6.1. Parenthood: a matter of fate and reflection
To help with this decision, the first piece of advice in “The Empath’s Survival Guide” is not to idealize the role of parent, but to take into account its impact on one’s personal life, nervous system, and sensitivity.
Judith Orloff also insists on the importance of listening to one’s intuition when making this choice. She offers two meditation exercises to help us do this:
- One will connect us with our deep desire to have children or not: the goal is to make sure we are in tune with our true desire and that of our partner.
- The other is to meditate and connect with the spirit of our future child.
6.2. Effective strategies for dealing with the stress and overstimulation of parenting
Stress and tension among empath parents are experienced in an amplified way. In fact, parental empathy can be a real asset for children and parents, but it should not impact the health and well-being of parents.
In fact, the goal of the empath parent is to maintain calm, serenity, energy, and balance (between work, love life, children, family, and friends). They must reduce sensory overload and become aware of how they express their emotions to their children, without repressing them.
Judith Orloff details several practical tips to achieve this in a “12-step program” that includes:
- The practice of gratitude and meditation, conscious breathing.
- Moments of solitude to recharge your batteries, listening to soothing music, taking “energizing” naps.
- Setting up a framework and boundaries within which to teach children how to manage their frustration: this is particularly difficult for empaths who are naturally overly attentive or who have difficulty dealing with their child’s crying and emotions.
- A respectful attitude towards the child’s emotional space: stop brooding over your children (helicopter parents), stop worrying about them all the time, and instead encourage them to live their own experience, not to invade their emotional space.
- Channeling your energy.
- Healthy eating, exercise.
- Laughing and having fun with your children while thinking about the privilege of raising them.
- Respecting our own needs.
6.3. Raising sensitive children
Understanding empath children and their needs
The nervous system of empath or highly sensitive children reacts more strongly and quickly to external stimuli than others. Their senses and intuition “are sharper than average,” and “their emotional experiences are more intense.”
Unaware of their condition, hypersensitive children rely on their parents to identify what is bothering them and solve the problems caused by their sensitivity. As a parent, it is then essential to identify the stimuli that disturb your hypersensitive child, and then adjust their activities accordingly.
For example, we:
- Avoid overstimulating activities that cause exhaustion, anxiety, or tantrums, overloaded schedules (or asking them to do several things at once), video games, violent TV shows, light, noise, and crowds if it makes them emotionally uncomfortable.
- Give them some time alone to regain their emotional balance.
Judith Orloff adds that:
“Unfortunately, institutions such as schools, as well as the rest of society, do not always provide these children with the understanding they need. […] The role of parents is crucial to protect the sensitivity, intuition, creativity, and wisdom of these children, and to teach them to live well in this world. […] It is important to clearly identify whether your child is an empath or hypersensitive. You can then better help him or her to thrive, seeing their sensitivity as an expression of their excellence, compassion, and depth.”
Judith Orloff also talks here about the even more specific needs of indigo children. These so-called “indigo children” possess, according to the author, “more awakened intuition, sensitivities, clarity of purpose, and interest in changing the planet for the good.”
The challenges of sensitive boys
Because cultural pressure is often stronger for boys, they may have difficulty living with their sensitivity. For example, hypersensitive boys may have difficulty fitting in with others because they are victims of rejection and humiliation (others may make fun of their kindness, their caution, call them “soft”, “weak” or “feminine”).
If this is the case, Judith Orloff advises parents to support their hypersensitive son by telling him about all the positive aspects of his sensitivity:
“Tell him how caring, intelligent, loving, creative, intuitive, and in tune with people and nature he is. [Don’t allow anyone to humiliate your son when he expresses his sensitivity. Stand up for him. Inform the school principal of the situation and ask them to institute a zero-tolerance policy for harassment.”
This will help him become more confident and then grow into a well-rounded, loving man.
6.4. How to help sensitive children?
Judith Orloff explains here that hypersensitivity can have a genetic origin or appear during early childhood through the influence of the parents’ empathic qualities.
Pregnancy and early childhood
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” suggests a meditation practice during pregnancy. It applies to both mothers and fathers (depending on the sensitivity of each).
Next, the author:
- Shares several tips for empath parents and/or empath babies: these include a calm, quiet, and pleasant environment (avoid quarrels), dim lighting, breastfeeding, a baby wrap, etc.
- Explains how our early childhood traumas can exacerbate our sensitivity as adults.
Advice for parents to support their sensitive child
- Encourage your child to use their sensitivity and intuition wisely and be proud of it.
- Teach them to listen to their emotions and inner voice.
- Respect their emotions, their need to spend time alone to recharge their batteries without exposing them to overly stimulating situations.
- Talk to teachers and family members about their specific needs and abilities without letting anyone judge or criticize them.
- Trust your intuition.
- Help your child recognize when he/she is picking up on the emotions of others.
- Provide emotional stability by not being overly anxious in their presence.
- Do not argue in their presence, because, even if it is not their responsibility, the sensitive child absorbs negative energy and will want to solve problems.
- Encourage them to develop their creativity: let them spend time alone to recharge their batteries, avoid overloaded schedules.
- Teach them meditation, visualization, and breathing exercises to help them refocus, manage stress and fatigue.
- Ask them to tell you about their dreams.
- Encourage them to play drums to become more grounded in reality.
- Teach them how to recognize energy vampires and set boundaries for
- Allow them a period of inactivity before bedtime (in the dark and quiet).
- Monitor their food: hypersensitive children are sensitive to food (beware of processed foods, carbohydrates, and sugar that can alter their mood, concentration, and energy).
- Intervene before a tantrum by creating a calm atmosphere(dim lights, relaxing music, nature sounds, etc.).
- Use lithotherapy, aromatherapy(essential oils in massage) and pets (unconditional love and grounding effect).
- Help them to overcome stress through visualization techniques (the author suggests a countdown exercise here).
In summary: be supportive and present; above all do not blame the child for his/her sensitivity
Overall, and this is true, says Judith Orloff, for parents, as well as for teachers and all those who have an authoritative role with hypersensitive children: instead of blaming these children for their particular sensitivity, it is crucial to be present and supportive, to recognize their abilities, develop their creativity and encourage them to be more accepting of their sensitivity. In this way, we help them feel better about themselves and have confidence in themselves.
Chapter 7 – Empaths and Work
Empaths are in touch with their feelings. They are creative, inventive, and visionary people. Further:
“Because we often think outside the box, traditional work environments can feel too limiting. However, when our talents are put to use, we feel fulfilled and thoroughly enjoy our work.”
7.1. The three key factors to thrive at work when you are an empath
Judith Orloff contends that there are three factors key to the professional well-being of empaths:
- First factor: a rewarding job
This concerns the satisfaction we get from our job. Empaths prefer jobs where they:
- Feel useful: they like to be of service to others, to feel that they are making a difference in their lives and in the world.
- Are free to develop their creativity: this gives meaning to their work.
- Second factor: the energy of the people around them
The empath’s professional well-being also depends a lot on their colleagues and superiors, as well as on their work environment. Hypersensitive people do not tolerate noise, conflicts, backroom hijinks, or wheeling and dealing. They are much more effective in a friendly, stimulating, and collaborative work environment.
- Third factor: the energy of their workplace
With their highly developed sensitivity, empaths intuitively sense the energy of a place and of the people around them. This energy will often impact their well-being.
When it comes to the workplace, Judith Orloff advises empaths to:
- Eliminate stagnant or negative waves by using feng shui, for example.
- Adapt their physical space: a calm, spacious, tidy place with good lighting and air circulation will facilitate their concentration. They should also take into account the level of noise and activity, possible odors, and the proximity between colleagues.
- Be aware of the electromagnetic field of computers and cell phones, which can especially affect “electrosensitive” empaths.
7.2. Emotional contagion at work
Emotional contagion is, as its name suggests, a phenomenon of rapid spread of emotions between individuals in the same place. As a result:
“An employee’s state of panic and anxiety can spread as quickly as a virus throughout the office and affect the morale and productivity of those present. Happiness, too, can spread throughout the workplace.”
Everyone is susceptible to emotional contagion, but among empaths, its effects are greater. It is therefore not always easy for an empath to work in a crowded, overstimulating, emotionally charged place, or in an open space (the lack of privacy makes them even more vulnerable to the stress of their colleagues).
Judith Orloff points out several ways to set boundaries at work. For example:
- Create a psychological barrier in an open space with plants, photos, sacred objects, or protective stones.
- Use headphones or earplugs.
- Take bathroom breaks.
- Practice visualization (like seeing yourself in a golden egg of light surrounding your workstation).
7.3. Finding the best job for an empath
Judith Orloff observes that, overall, empaths:
- Thrive more in self-employment, home-based jobs, or if employed, in low-stress positions in small businesses or organizations with humanistic values.
- Are happiest in artistic, creative, or helping professions.
As an empath, the author states:
“To enjoy and excel in our work, we want to tap into our sensitivities, intuition, thoughtfulness, calmness and creativity.”
This status offers many advantages to empaths. Indeed, empaths:
- Can organize their schedule as they wish, which:
- Allows them to can take breaks when they want to relax.
- Prevents them from feeling overwhelmed or drained by colleagues, a supervisor, or an overloaded schedule.
- Makes them far more effective than when they are forced to participate in power struggles and large-company meetings that drain them.
- Aren’t required to work eight or more hours straight in an office or endure morning and evening traffic jams.
- Jobs that empaths enjoy
Judith Orloff lists off the jobs that empaths seem to particularly like. Namely:
- Website designer, graphic designer;
- Virtual assistant, accountant or lawyer working from home;
- Self-employed electrician or plumber;
- Real estate agent or travel consultant;
- Landscape architects, horticulturists, foresters and other professions related to nature, the protection of the planet and ecosystems;
- Helping professions: physician, nurse, dentist, physiotherapist, psychotherapist, social worker, teacher, yoga teacher, traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, massage therapist, gerontology worker, coach, clergy member, employee in non-profit organizations;
- Veterinarian and other jobs with animals.
Judith Orloff believes that empaths should choose a job in which they can use their unique personality, skills, and abilities.
Health care and helping professions in particular are interesting for them because they “fulfill their generous nature” and “give them the opportunity to tap into their sensitivity to help others heal and achieve their life goals.” Empaths in this sector will therefore be able to pursue rewarding careers. However, they must be able to protect themselves from compassion fatigue. To do this, they must take care of themselves and not absorb the stress, emotions, and symptoms of their patients/clients.
Jobs to avoid
The strong character traits of empaths are rarely valued in large corporations, academia, the military, professional sports, or government. In addition, The Empath’s Survival Guide advises against exhausting and stressful jobs such as:
- Commerce (especially for introverts);
- Public speaking-related (too emotionally demanding) unless you are passionate about what you do;
- Public relations and politics;
- Management of large teams;
- Teaching (unless you can deal with “room chaos”);
- Business world-related;
- Police or firefighting (very stressful but also very sensory stimulating).
7.4. Ten tips to avoid burnout and compassion fatigue
If you don’t like your job but have, for the time being, no other option but to continue doing it, the author shares some tips for improving your situation:
- Take breaks from time to time.
- Don’t overload your day with appointments.
- Eat healthy and stay hydrated (healthy, protein-packed snacks).
- Set up a calm workplace.
- Breathe deeply and regularly.
- Infuse your workplace with positive and warm energy.
- Set clear boundaries at work, especially with energy vampires.
- Visualize a protective white light around you.
- Appreciate the benefits of water (shower, bath, Epsom salts) after your work day.
- Relax outside of your professional life.
7.5. The empath therapist
The author concludes this chapter by discussing her role as an empath therapist. She says that her role is to help her patients move forward while respecting their unique qualities:
“It’s not about ‘fixing’ them. When they are suffering, I am there to enlighten and guide them. [My role is to inspire them, to encourage them to move forward and to listen to their intuition along their journey. This approach allows me to accompany them on their path to recovery without absorbing their difficulties or suffering.”
However, this approach is not always easy. To manage, Judith Orloff suggests that empath therapists focus on two things in their practice:
- Not to feel responsible for the progress or setbacks of their patients/clients, nor to take their suffering upon yourself or try to cure them: it is up to the patients to “implement the changes to free themselves from their suffering.”
- To avoid the emergence of emotional reactions in their practice, empath therapists should address their personal issues and express what affects them emotionally through supervision and other tools.
Chapter 8 – Empaths, Intuition, and Extraordinary Perceptions
The tone changes a bit in this chapter on intuitive empaths.
The author addresses the more mysterious dimensions of human consciousness, those that she says “defy the laws of space and time” and “that modern scientists do not yet understand.”
“Most people operate within a narrow band of frequencies that are limited to reality and the “material world” as we generally perceive it. Their ability to “see” is limited to linear time. Do not make the mistake of considering the material plane as the only reality. When your sensitivity allows you to transcend this illusion, you will have access to subtle energies and fascinating universes, to ‘non-local’ realities (a term used in consciousness research) that defy the laws of classical physics.”
With their highly developed senses, intuitive empaths have access to a field of perceptions and experiences that can be difficult to experience. It is important to know how to use one’s intuition wisely in order to stay grounded and preserve one’s inner balance.
8.1. The different types of intuitive empaths
The telepathic empath perceives images, impressions, information about other people that allows him/her to know what is happening to them at the same time.
For example: a friend calls you just as you are thinking about him; you sense that your child who lives thousands of miles away is sick and who is indeed sick; you suddenly sense a positive energy and later learn that you have landed the job you were looking for.
Judith Orloff emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between an intuition and the mere projection of one’s problems. How? By making sure that it is “neutral and compassionate” and by being cautious about emotionally charged “revelations” or those that reflect issues for us. For example, if your fear of abandonment is a source of emotional pain for you, and you sense that your partner is going to leave you, you are probably projecting your fear onto him/her.
Intuitive gifts are a real asset in helping people, but it is essential to know how to protect yourself from them as well.
These empaths have premonitions about the future. These may or may not manifest themselves in their dreams.
For example, they can sense before anyone else that someone is going to get sick or die, or that a friend is going to get married or get into college.
Some mystics claim that precognitive empaths have access to the Akashic records: an “etheric data bank located outside of time and space” that is said to contain all the knowledge of humanity past, present, and future.
The author goes on to underline two rules that she believes precognitive empaths should respect:
- Be careful to use this information only with integrity and not to think of yourself as an “all-knowing authority.”
- Stop thinking that you yourself have caused the events you are predicting or that it is your responsibility to prevent them from happening(especially when it comes to death).
This type of empath often has intense dreams from childhood that they remember vividly when they wake up. These dreams can:
- Revealintuitive messages in a very clear way.
- Be “telepathic and precognitive”: “spiritual guides” (in different forms: animals, people, presences, angels, pleasant voices, etc.) will communicate information concerning present and future problems.
- Take the dreamer on a journey to other worlds.
To develop your dream gifts, Judith Orloff invites you to:
- Write down your dreams in a journal as soon as you wake up, then look into their meaning.
- Practice lucid dreaming, a shamanic technique “which consists of being aware of being in a dream, and in this state, observing what is happening in the dream and guiding its development.”
“These empaths can communicate with people, animals and spirits from beyond. They have a gift that allows them to bridge the gap between this life and the other world. […] They function like a telephone wire.”
Judith Orloff reminds us that “even if modern science does not understand or recognize their faculties, mediums have existed in all cultures and at all times in human history. Some are charlatans, but others seem to have a genuine gift.”
The author goes on to recommend that mediumship empaths:
- Practice grounding and protection exercises to stay centered, as this kind of experience is often extremely intense emotionally.
- (If you wish to develop your talents) to be accompanied by an experienced guide.
- (If you don’t want experience) to refuse it.
These empaths intuitively sense the needs of plants, trees, and flowers. They:
- Perceive their sacred nature and communicate with their spirit.
- Talk to and hear them.
- Know if the plants are healthy, and how to heal them (they feel their suffering in their body, like shamans).
These empaths are:
- Nature lovers who need to live in or near nature. The proximity of the trees reassures them: they “like to touch them, hug them, climb on them or say hello when they pass by.”
- Generally excellent therapists, especially in phytotherapy and traditional Chinese medicine.
These empaths are “sensitive to the Earth and to changes in their bodies.” As such, they:
- Can “feel the power of a storm, the beauty of the moon, and the warmth of the sun.”
- Feed off the beauty and richness of the Earth.
- Are sensitive to daylight, temperature, and seasonal changes, and sometimes solar flares(magnetic storms).
- Feel what affects the Earth in their bodies, in themselves: when humans harm the planet, they may feel hurt, anxious, or experience health problems. Conversely, when the planet is doing well, they feel happy.
- Often have premonitions of natural disasters.
To preserve energy and develop these gifts, “The Empath’s Survival Guide” advises connecting to the Earth often by:
- Spending time near the sea and the mountains;
- Eating healthy and organic foods;
- Growing a vegetable garden;
- Performing grounding exercises (lying on the ground, walking in the grass barefoot, bathing in lakes, rivers, in the sea, stargazing, etc.).
These empaths love being around animals and seem to be attracted to them. They are able to:
- Communicate with them, understand their intentions, their emotions (their anxiety, annoyance, loneliness, or insecurity) and vice versa.
- Offer them therapeutic help.
- Experience animal spirituality and “benefit from the wisdom and protection of animals.”
The author describes a meditation technique to do when we feel a need for protection. It consists of visualizing a jaguar, affectionate and ferocious, elegant and confident, forming a circle of protection around us, and feeling its presence and protective power.
8.2. Protecting yourself from intuitive overload
We are not necessarily aware of it, but intuitive overload can be a burden to live with on a daily basis. “The Empath’s Survival Guide” suggests several techniques to help us maintain an inner balance:
- Maintain a “conscious and living bond” with our inner voice: ask it to be less present if necessary.
- Remain a neutral observer: it is not always appropriate or even possible to intervene (especially when we sense death, illness, or other painful events).
- Do not take responsibility for the karma of others.
- Encourage the circulation of positive energy and the expulsion of toxic energy by visualizing a white light entering through our head and exiting through our feet.
8.3. Kairos and Chronos
Judith Orloff closes this chapter by explaining that intuition is situated in a conception of time that the ancient Greeks called Kairos. The Greeks called:
- Chronos⇒ time that is measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years.
- Kairos ⇒ sacred time, outside the linear reality, which cannot be measured with a clock and where synchronicities
It is therefore in this last infinite dimension that intuitive empaths experience their gifts.
Chapter 9 – The Gift of Being an Empath
In the final chapter of “The Empath’s Survival Guide,” Judith Orloff develops five guidelines to follow that are inherent to our hyperempathy.
9.1. Being proud as an empath
Judith Orloff contends that our hyperempathy is positive for ourselves, our family, and the world. Therefore, we should be proud of it.
Thanks to it, we:
- Experience joy and passion intensely.
- Perceive beauty, poetry, and life energy.
- Are not indifferent or callous towards others: our compassion leads us to help them.
- Show ourselves enlightened, caring, and vulnerable at the same time.
- Know how to live in harmony with nature.
- Often break the suffering and negative family patterns passed on from generation to generation.
9.2. Walking towards the light
The author then encourages us to embrace our gifts in order to help effectuate the change that our world needs.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of who we are,” she says. Because empaths can play a leading role in the future of humanity “by advocating values of mutual understanding and peace.”
She quotes ecologist David Orr as saying:
“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”
By bringing their sensibilities to the fore and remaining centered, empaths can, according to Judith Orloff, be those therapists, prophets, lovers, and innovative minds, and bring about, through their actions, a compassionate revolution.
9.3. Using your gifts to help others
Judith Orloff suggests that we “honor” our empathy by remembering times when it has been beneficial.
Specifically, a time when we:
- Were able to help, with great love and compassion, our partner or a friend who was suffering.
- Made a very good choice based on our intuition.
- Made it through a difficult time and showed compassion to ourselves when we were paralyzed by fear and could have easily let it taken over instead.
- Encouraged, as a parent, educator, or therapist, a child to express his or her sensitivity without being ashamed of it and thus contributed to improving his or her life.
9.4. Experiencing the power of community
Judith Orloff encourages us to be part of a community of like-minded people who share our values. This is for three reasons:
- “Sensitive souls are, by nature, co-empathetic,” says the author. In other words, the gifts of empaths grow when they are in the company of positive, sensitive people.
- Feeling “recognized” by another person or others is a great comfort to sensitive people.
- A support group is a source of relief and grounding for empaths in times when they feel emotionally overwhelmed.
9.5. Finding inner peace
Although the self-awareness of empaths often takes them out of their comfort zone, Judith Orloff wishes to remind us that it is also their comfort zone that allows them to be more compassionate and spiritually connected.
The techniques that Judith Orloff explains throughout the book are a way to deal with the challenges of our sensitive nature. She therefore strongly encourages us to apply them. However, according to her, it is above all by fully accepting our hyperempathy, by loving ourselves as we are, “without doubts or inner conflict” she says, that we will transform our lives and our relationships.
It is an ongoing journey:
“The path to self-acceptance, inner peace, and spiritual growth is not a straight line. It is a spiral. We keep finding ourselves confronting issues we thought were settled – only to discover deeper truths each time and move forward with greater self-knowledge.”
But it’s a journey worth taking:
“With your heightened sensitivity, you can become a contributor to this profound cultural transformation that aims to put the human aspect back into humanity.”
Protection strategies and creating community
“The Empath’s Survival Guide” offers two additional sections:
- A chapter that summarizes all the protective strategies discussed throughout the book.
- A final section that describes how to create a support group, a community of empaths so as to share affinities and thrive collectively.
Conclusion of “The Empath’s Survival Guide” by Judith Orloff
A comprehensive, scientific, and human approach to hypersensitivity
In her “Empath’s Survival Guide”, Judith Orloff shares her expertise on hyperempathy with a comprehensive, scientific and humane perspective. In particular because she:
- Draws on the analysis of her experience as an empath herself, but also on her knowledge and healthcare practice as a psychiatrist.
- Addresses the issue of hypersensitivity in all its aspects: we understand how this psychological characteristic impacts work, friendships, relationships, intimacy, parenthood, etc.
- Is kind and opens up with sincerity: when she mentions her own experience, her past addictions, for example.
- Remains rather neutral and scientific when it comes to more esoteric subjects.
A joy to read for all those who recognize themselves in it
‘’The Empath’s Survival Guide’’ is a comforting and even liberating book for the highly sensitive reader who will recognize him/herself in the descriptions and the situations described:
- Comforting because they will feel understood and less alone in their functioning.
- Liberating because, although realistic about the issues surrounding hypersensitivity, the author has deliberately chosen to treat the subject with optimism.
This very positive take challenges the common perception that hypersensitivity is a weakness and a source of difficulties that must be overcome: in this book, hypersensitivity is considered as an opportunity, a strength, an asset, and a factor of fulfillment.
This is why the author invites the empath reader to embrace wholeheartedly his/her heightened sensitivities.
Concrete advice on how to accept and develop our empathic nature
To achieve this self-acceptance and develop this empathic nature, it is essential to understand the issues and the pitfalls to avoid. The Empath’s Survival Guide provides not only this information but solutions as well.
In fact, throughout the chapters, the book presents tangible ways (advice, exercises, tests, etc.) in which we can mitigate the negative effects of hyperempathy; learn how to adapt, and protect ourselves in day-to-day life. The offered methodology provides us with a general approach to easy-going and natural methods: visualization, meditation, lithotherapy, aromatherapy, balneotherapy, zootherapy, spirituality, etc.
- The author’s positive and compassionate approach to hypersensitivity: she above all highlights the beneficial aspects of being an empath, without denying the everyday challenges that it can present.
- Self-assessment exercises to help us better situate ourselves while reading.
- The highly practical advice and “protection strategies”: the author describes the attitudes to adopt and clearly lays out the phrases to use to help us on a daily basis.
- Her overall approach is complete and accessible.
- The esoterism or mysticism of certain passages could put off some reluctant readers.
- Repeated advice throughout.
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