Susan talks with Judith Orloff, author of The Empath’s Survival Guide and Thriving as an Empath, about how parents can handle the overwhelming demands of children. While the suggestions will be helpful to all parents, special attention is paid in this conversation to those who are highly sensitive or who identify as empaths. (Transcript below)
Judith Orloff MD is the NY Times bestselling author of The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, Thriving as an Empath, and Emotional Freedom. She is a psychiatrist, an empath and intuitive healer, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. Dr. Orloff specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve total wellness. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Oprah Magazine, the New York Times and USA Today. She has spoken at the American Psychiatric Association, Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women’s Summit and Google. https://drjudithorloff.com/
Things you’ll learn from this episode:
Why it’s vital that parents recharge
How parents can find ways to replenish in the midst of children’s demands
How children benefit when parents model self-care
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Transcript of Handling Parenting Overwhelm:
Speaker 1: (00:12)
Hello and welcome back to another episode of the Parenting Without Power Struggles podcast. I’m really glad you’re here. I’m Susan Stifelman, your host. I’m a marriage and family therapist and the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles and Parenting with Presence. My guest today is my friend and wonderful human Judith Orloff and I’m going to tell you all about Judith. In a minute. We’re going to be talking about surviving as an empath, which I’m very excited to share with you because so many parents really feel weighted down by managing all the activities of raising kids while themselves being, you know, very tuned in sensitive, empathic. So we’ll talk about that first. A little bit of housekeeping for those of you who want to know what we’re up to in the Parenting Without Power Struggles, community, the best way to find out more as to visit Susanstiffelman.com you’ll find lots of parenting support.
Speaker 1: (01:05)
You can sign up for my free newsletter with lots of tips and announcements and inspirational essays. And you’ll also hear about our monthly Parenting Without Power Struggles membership program where I work with parents personally and we have a great promotion and amazing, really rare promotion going on to encourage parents to give this membership program a try. If you visit Susanstiffelman.com/membership and you enter coupon code Podcast19 your first month will [inaudible] just $1 so you can attend our calls. We have two calls a month where I answer questions. I coach parents through whatever they’re needing help with, whether it’s homework or bedtime, or kids who are anxious or having trouble with friends. And you can tune in live. You can submit questions or get lots of other discounts to other programs. So if you could use more personalized support, I hope you’ll check it out. And you’ll also see that there’s a list of specialized classes on topics like mindful parenting, handling homework, raising self-reliant kids in the digital age.
Speaker 1: (02:15)
So check out the resources that are there for you. And now let’s get started. Hi Judith. Hi Susan. I am so glad that you’re here. Let me tell you all about Judith Orloff. Judith Orloff MD is the New York times bestselling author of the Empath’s survival guide life strategies for sensitive people. And I have a copy that you gave me due to time in my book self, a beautiful resource. Her new book is just coming out thriving as an empath and it offers daily self care tools for sensitive people along with its companion. The empaths empowerment journal. Dr Orloff is a psychiatrist and empath and she sent the sizes traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy and spirituality. And I know that you also specialize in treating highly sensitive, empathic people in your private practice. You’ve been featured, Judith on, gosh, so many places. The today show, CNN, Oprah magazine, the New York times. So do this website and her online empath support chorus are all available as well as her speaking schedule. If you visit https://drjudithorloff.com/. So I’ll let you say more about that as we wrap up, but let’s just, um, jump into this amazing topic about being an empath. What is an empath Judith?
Speaker 2: (03:41)
Well, an empath is somebody who is extremely sensitive and doesn’t have the same kind of filters, um, up that other people have in terms of filtering the energy of life. And so, and pass often are very, very open. They’re intuitive, they’re loving, they’re deep, they’re creative, and they often absorb the energy of others into their own bodies and can be exhausted, um, or go on sensory overload. And so I wrote thriving as an empath to give people self care techniques each day or how to be empathic and be in your power and yet not absorb the acts of the world or your children or other parents or other people in your life.
Speaker 1: (04:28)
Okay. We have so many people in our community who are interested in the topic of sensitivity or the trait of high sensitivity and or this, this gift and challenge of moving through the world with, as you said, thinner filters. And particularly when you’re a parent, um, you know, it can be very overwhelming to manage not only the activity of your children who are children and therefore they’re loud and in motion and create a certain amount of chaos. Let’s just stop there and let me let you address that and then I’ll move onto my part two question. How can parents who, who identify themselves as having this, this nature better manage the constant input and demand and stimulation of raising children?
Speaker 2: (05:21)
Okay, well, one thing that’s very important as it takes short, many breaks away, even going in the bathroom and meditating and learning how to meditate, one to two minutes at a time, very short meditations to come back to yourself to decrease the stimulation even for a short period of time can do wonders. And so it’s important that you can do that. Um, or try and catch that whenever you can. You know, instead of doing the laundry at your breaks or doing phone calls, take at least two or three minutes to breathe and center yourself. And if you a partner, um, perhaps delegate to the partner and talk to them about being an empath, you know, what are your needs so that the partner can help you a little bit more. I mean, it’s an overwhelming experienced at children and the noise level and the chaos level, of course. But I’ve worked with Manny and Pat, they parents who just learn how to find those small bits of time to re come back to themselves. And the mini breaks are very important.
Speaker 1: (06:27)
Isn’t it true also that when our children maybe see us excusing ourselves or taking a moment or just moving everything outside to sit in nature to kind of reconnect with something quieter and in ourselves that they internalize a message of self care. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Speaker 2: (06:48)
Yes. Parents can be amazing role models when it comes to self care for sensitive people. And so when children see that they see their parents doing something good for themselves and they might, you know, want to come in, they might not be able to accept it at first. But if the parents can very calmly say, you know, I, I’m taking care of myself so I can be better for you, that’d be better for myself. And if you give that message two children, they’ll do that for themselves and their own lives. And then if they have their own children, though I already have that programmed inside of themselves that it’s a healthy thing to do. The problem is many empass are trained to be a martyr and to give their life’s blood to other people and suffer as a result. So they’re always walking around, exhausted, frantic, anxious, upset because they believe everyone else has to come first all the time.
Speaker 2: (07:46)
And to be an empowered empath and to not go on sensory overload means you have to give to yourself even in little spurts or whenever those a little window for you to do something in terms of self care, even getting in a bath or walking barefoot on the earth or taking a few deep breaths, no, or spending, you know, a moment or two when you wake up to be grateful for what you have instead of starting that to do list that goes round and round in your brain. So there are little things you can do to take the pressure off, uh, but it takes some kind of consciousness to do that and the desire to take care of yourself. So you could be in the best possible shape for yourself, your partner, and your children.
Speaker 1: (08:37)
Honestly, whether you identify yourself as an empath or you’re just raising children. I think every parent
Speaker 2: (08:44)
Speaker 1: (08:44)
benefit from what you’re saying because we tend to use up
Speaker 2: (08:50)
every last ounce of energy in meeting the needs of our children. Right. Would you see it that way? Oh, I absolutely do. And I always counsel my empowers, you know, if they’re thinking about having children to go into it realistically because many of them passed, require a lot of quiet time. There are a lot of time in nature. Um, and if they get overstimulated, um, you know, that of course that challenge of course goes up with having children, but there’s so many positives and beautiful things about growth opportunities and having children, you know, it’s such a beautiful experience to, you know, be a guardian of the spirit or these spirits and to help them along. And so it feeds them path. Also, the love, the connection, um, the jury and with other souls, it can really be empath as well. It’s not all draining. So I don’t want to make it seem like that, you know, but self care, you have to become a fierce warrior when it comes to that as a parent so that you can replenish yourself little bit by little bit and be able to delegate or if your child is a way to be able to take that time and do something nice for yourself.
Speaker 2: (10:08)
Um, and sometimes, you know, a particular problem that I talk about in thriving as an empath is, is when you absorb the stress or emotions from other people. And so if you do that, that’s very common for parents to do that with their children as children. And may are the hardest ones not to do that with. Um, and so it’s important to learn how to too, if you’re, if you’re doing that, to take some time apart and regroup and then reenter the situation. Because it’s important to realize I’m taking on the stress of all these other people. It’s not exactly my stress is their stress. And so you have to begin to identify that and just take some time out, regroup and go back, you know, and enter the situation at that point. But what you don’t want to do is keep being an emotional sponge day after day after day, without taking that time to recenter yourself and even breathing out.
Speaker 2: (11:08)
Stress is so important or breathing out too much noise. No, if you feel overstimulated on a noise level. Um, and so just taking that time to do that. Judith, I’m really glad that you brought that up. This idea of self care and in my work I’m always interested in, in getting underneath and issues. So instead of what is the superficial solution to a child who won’t stay in in bed or who won’t start homework, I’m always interested in, in what the underlying elements are that make that a likely behavior or outcome. And, and, and as I’m listening to you, I’m thinking, can we talk for a minute about what makes it hard? Four, an empath. Two,
Speaker 1: (11:54)
allow themselves the gift or the necessity of time to recover or rejuvenate. We have this confusion in our culture about selfishness. Can you speak to that?
Speaker 2: (12:06)
Yes. Many people are trained that to be compassionate people, they have to give and give and go. And even if it means at your own expense, in your own energy, or even if you get sick or even if you feel anxious and depressed, you just keep giving and giving and empass tend to be over helpers. And so there’s a section in the book and how not to over help in social situations and how to set boundaries, how to find your own balance with giving and receiving. But empass tend to over-give and that spills over into parenting too. Or they give their life blood and suddenly you feel exhausted or over time you feel exhausted all the time or you’re starting to feel anxious or uncomfortable. And that’s a sign to listen to the body’s wisdom and stop and also reevaluate any beliefs that says you’re not to be a compassionate person, you have to give everything all the time.
Speaker 2: (13:07)
Yeah. If you do that, you won’t have longevity as a healthy parent know, burn out at some point. Yeah. And so self-love, self-compassion, taking these small breaks, being aware of some of the dynamics. Um, sometimes impasse are very intuitive with their children and sometimes that could be confused with anxiety or they’re always afraid something’s going to happen to their children or they think they’re intuitively picking something up and because they feel so connected to their children and I work with those parents and you know, on the codependency issues on you have to, yeah, you feel as an empath you and as a mother or father you feel a strong connection with your child. But there can be an overkill. We are always intuitively tuning into them, wondering what’s happening and you know, that’s where you have to really draw your energy back and you know, find your own sovereignty.
Speaker 1: (14:06)
Yes. It’s what I’ve seen is that one parents give, give, give and they have this kind of construct that says, this is what I’m supposed to do. This is, this is evidence that I’m a good mother or a good father or that I’m devoted and caring or I’m giving to my children what I wasn’t given. I’m overdoing right. End up resentful. And then because inevitably your children aren’t gonna thank you from the bottom of their hearts. Every time you exhaust yourself to help them with a science project at midnight or to help the, you know, to drive them back and forth and back and forth. They may not always be appreciative. And I hear this a lot with parents who really give it their all and [inaudible] understandably, their kids don’t really acknowledged, gosh, mom, thanks so much for bringing my lunch when I forgot it. You’re not likely to get that. There are some basic assumptions that children seem to make in their, they’re generally fairly egocentric, even if they’re very loving and sweet, right? So it can really backfire when you kind of exhaust yourself in the name of being a loving, compassionate parent.
Speaker 2: (15:13)
Right? Well, it’s inevitable sometimes because of the, you know, incredible demands. But being an empath, you have to know yourself. And in the, in my first book, the empath survival guide, those a 20 questions. Self-assessment tends to identify what sensitivities in yourself to be discerning out. For instance, do I absorb other people’s stress? Am I very sensitive to noise? Smells or excessive talking. Um, so that’s a big issue. Her parents. Yeah. Um, do I replenish myself alone versus in crowds? And so it’s important that you know yourself and really examine am I an empath? Am I highly sensitive? And as a parent I need to be aware of how I contend to that as well as tend to my children. And so if you have that awareness, the parents that I’ve known who’ve had that awareness, it, it’s a guiding light for them in terms of self care.
Speaker 1: (16:11)
That’s beautiful. And I know that you also have a companion journal to thriving as an empath. Um, can you say a little bit more about that? How parents could actually incorporate that practice of journaling into their already busy lives?
Speaker 2: (16:25)
I love journaling and it’s an incredible emotional release when you could write in a journal. If you don’t, it’s a private journal. It’s just for you. It’s not for anyone else to look at. I mean, I want to be clear about that. So it’s just for you so you don’t have to worry about and get hide it or I don’t know. But to keep it, tell it how everyone is private. And you can write about issues in thriving as an empath. For instance, setting boundaries. You can read about that section. Each day is a new self care chip and then journal about it. No, how do I protect my energy? Do we techniques one, two, three so it can be written down in a journal and you could go back to it and you go, ah, okay, now I know what to do today. If you forget because everybody forgets all the time.
Speaker 2: (17:09)
It’s so easy when you’re caught up in the hubbub of life to forget everything. So the journal is, you know, a way to write it down and to work through issues and to have, there are affirmations in the journal. It’s fun as beautiful. It’s lively, it’s not too intense with too much texts. It’s a lot of places for you to write and be creative. Um, and also, you know, I just want to say part of my self care tips is connecting to nature and the seasons and the phases of the moon so that you can, you know, adjust. Let’s say your menstrual cycles to the phases of the moon and notice your mood changes, you know, as the cycles of light change. So it’s, you know, it’s about self care tips, but it’s also about, you know, the journal is a place, I know there’s a beautiful page where I’ve, there’s a picture of all the phases of the moon and picture of how you relate to the full moon or the new moon. It’s important to know, maybe you’ve never considered it before, but you know, particularly as women, you know, our bodies are so in sync with the tides and the moon. It’s part of self care to be in touch with that. So the journal offers you those kinds of fun things to explore as well as how to set boundaries and my absorbing other people’s energy. How can I not do that? How can I be empathic but not give myself away? All those questions you could write a write and write and write about in the journal.
Speaker 1: (18:37)
I’m reading a book, I just stumbled on a book recently. You’ve probably heard of it by Anne Morrow Lindbergh called gift from the sea. Oh yes. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I just, I put things if somebody wants to read some excerpts on my, uh, Facebook author page and in my newsletter because it just knocked me over. I, you know, she really is in 1955 talking about the fast pace of the world and how we particularly women need to take time for solitude.
Speaker 2: (19:06)
Yes, yes, definitely. And by doing that, it makes you a better parent. Hmm. Yeah. I guess that’s what I would like to communicate if you’re an empathic sensitive parent taking this time is precious, is sacred time. It’s health health giving to you and to your children. If you just go, go, go all the time for years and are overstimulated, there’s something in you that will give. Yeah. And there will be a message from your body saying attended, attend. And so finding the balance that do you teach people and that I’m sharing with people in my book, it’s essential. It’s sometimes you need guides for that. Sometimes it’s important to talk to somebody like you, you know, and to have coaches on how to do this so you don’t get submerged and just all the activity of being a parent. I mean just the sheer activity level now is very challenging too. Most parents, and certainly to impasse this empath have special needs and it’s important to honor those needs.
Speaker 1: (20:16)
I love that you also talked about the beauty that the gifts and joys of being an empath and raising these amazing beings, having the privilege and honor so it’s not, we’re not by any means suggesting that it’s, it’s all you know, uphill. It’s, it’s for me been absolutely the most joyous ride I could have imagined and I love that you talk about taking those few moments here and there, looking for those moments. Maybe you don’t look for a whole evening or a whole weekend, but
Speaker 2: (20:48)
you look for three minutes or
Speaker 1: (20:50)
a few, a few little chances throughout the day to kind of connect with yourself and replenish.
Speaker 2: (20:57)
Yes. And look at nature. Look at the hummingbirds, look at the butterflies. Just take a moment now with your children. Even look up at the stars and Marvel at the wonder of it all. You know, and no, there’s so much more than the physical world and nature is just so spectacular. So don’t forget the wonder of life impasse, respond to positive energy, wondering nature, water, all those things. Get around it. Get in your bath, look up at the sky, you know, feel the essential aspects of the breeze. Even as you’re, you know, walking to a play date or something. You can do two things at once. But I’d like people to really open up their senses and their energy to all the beautiful sustaining aspects of life that are all around us. The simple things, the smile of a stranger, um, doing acts of, you know, anonymous kindness, you know, those, those kinds of things. If somebody holds a door for you, you know, with your children and there’s all this chaos, smile it, then that’s a beautiful thing. When somebody helps you, you know, that’s a, a really important point of being an empath, to allow help and to receive. So not have to do every single thing all the time. If somebody wants to help you, let them, you know, allow beautiful help to come in.
Speaker 1: (22:20)
That’s fantastic. So do you, um, I know I want people to know more about your work and that would be dr Judith orloff.com, but you have some events coming up. Can you tell people about those? Um, in case there are people who are in the Los Angeles area and might like to too. Here you in person?
Speaker 2: (22:40)
Yes. I’m having two book launch events. One is October 22nd at Romans books in Pasedena at 7:00 PM and the other one is that a November 2nd at mystic journeys crystal gallery on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice. And I’ll be giving a book talk dialogue about empath networking event for AMPATH, um, and sensitive people. And so it’s at the crystal gallery. It’s not the bookstore, it’s not Abbot Kinney. Um, it’s on Lincoln and all these amazing life-sized crystals are there to interact with as well. And then I want to say, uh, next March I’m going to be giving a workshop at Multiversity 1440 and in the Santa Cruz area for healthcare practitioners, for healers, for anyone interested in intuitive healing and empathic healing. That would be next March, and that’s all on my website, drJudithorloff.com
Speaker 1: (23:39)
awesome. Thank you so much. Do this. Thank you for being here and sharing yourself with us. It’s, you’re very welcome and thank you for all your magnificent work, Susan. So everyone, I sure hope you’ve gotten some gems and ideas and inspiration from this conversation. As always, we encourage you to subscribe to the podcast and if possible, leave a rating or review if you’d like more personalized support, check out our online Parenting Without Power Struggles, membership program. Remember there’s a, a special offer right now where your first month would be just a dollar. Judith, would you close with a tip for parents? Something that they can think about this week.
Speaker 2: (24:25)
Okay. Yes. I’d like every parent to visualize taking a two minute break, taking some big deep breaths in and breathing out. Stress. Breathing in clarity and calm. Breathing out any tension [inaudible] putting your hand on your heart and feeling the loving kindness within you and letting that loving kindness flow through your body to nurture you, to sustain you, to expand your heart when they gave you the kind of replenishment that you deserve. Connection to yourself and to what a beautiful parent and human being you are.
Speaker 1: (25:15)
Thank you. Well, everyone, I look forward to joining you on our next episode and I’m so glad that you were here for this. I really encourage you to take to heart some of the things that you’ve heard and meanwhile, til next time, remember that no matter how busy life gets, look for those moments of sweetness and joy.