Imagine hearing that your company has been closed down, and remaining perfectly calm and centered. Or discovering that your investment lost half of its value, and continuing to dwell in a place of peace and security, knowing that all is well. This ability to master your emotional state is what Dr. Judith Orloff teaches in her recent New York Times bestseller, Emotional Freedom.
Dr. Orloff passionately believes that we have the power to transform negative emotions into positive energy, regardless of the circumstances we face. At a time when an epidemic of fear is sweeping the world and anti-anxiety drug prescriptions are at an all time high, it is no surprise that Emotional Freedom became an overnight international success.
Assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, Dr. Orloff blends traditional medicine with the power of intuition, energy and spirituality to achieve physical and emotional well-being. She has spoken at medical schools, hospitals, universities, the American Psychiatric Association, Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit, and alternative and traditional health forums—venues where she presents her tools to doctors, patients and general audience. She also mentors UCLA medical students and psychiatry residents-in-training.
What if we could learn to liberate ourselves from stressful emotions and develop hope, compassion and courage? Dr. Orloff provides a roadmap for those who are discouraged, angry or overwhelmed—and for those who are in good emotional health but want to feel even better.
According to Dr. Orloff, each day presents opportunities for us to be heroes in our own lives: to turn away from negativity, react constructively and seize command of any situation. She also believes emotional freedom can turn around our businesses and shift our global economy. — J.M.G.
What inspired you to write a book about emotional freedom?
I work in a mainstream medical system that doesn’t deal with the different aspects of emotions. I was taught to prescribe medications such as Prozac® for depression and anxiety, but not how to approach emotions from an energetic, intuitive or spiritual context.
My calling is to combine traditional medicine with intuition, spirituality and subtle energy, to give a full picture of how to deal with life and our emotions, including business decisions.
Growing up in Beverly Hills with two physician parents and another twenty-five doctors in my family, I had a very linear, logical background. As a little girl I had strong intuitions and dreams that came true. That scared my parents, so they forbade me to mention intuition in our home. My healing path—as a psychiatrist, human being and woman—has been to integrate intuition into my work when dealing with emotions, health and all decision-making.
Why is emotional freedom so important today?
We are in a period of huge transition, and we’re in the midst of an emotional and economic meltdown, which will be the springboard for us to get to higher consciousness, if we use it that way.
Emotional Freedom offers tools to transform any emotion that comes your way into something more positive. It’s not about repressing your emotions but about feeling them and then working with tools to transform them so you don’t get stuck in negativity or old-paradigm thinking.
This can help tremendously with our inner peace and our quality of heart, because the way you deal with emotions is through the lens of the heart, always having self-compassion, and using the heart to develop deep empathy for others in your communications, which in turn can empower them.
This is very important right now, because I see so many people who are going under. They are getting depressed and giving up hope.
As I’ve been traveling the country for my book tour, I’ve been blessed to help people so they can keep moving forward in a positive way and see this crisis as an opportunity for growth. Emotional freedom is about cultivating your capacity to love yourself and others, and to see whatever you go through as a journey of the heart—whatever form it takes.
Our idea of wealth is shifting from the outside to the inside. We thought it had to do with externals—acquiring and doing things. Instead, you’re talking about emotional wealth.
Exactly. Our true wealth is about who we are inside, and that can radiate out to create an environment of abundance. But it’s got to start from the inside, because when we have that radar going, we can give off the energy to attract what we want. Emotional freedom will help you to find more positive energy within yourself, which can radiate out. And you attract back the same in turn, which creates prosperity, abundance and great relationships in your life.
Can you define emotional freedom?
Emotional freedom is the ability to pause and observe whatever emotion you’re going through, instead of just reacting, and then make a conscious shift to a more positive place. It’s about empowerment through the mindfulness of noticing and witnessing what’s happening inside. And it’s the capacity to give and receive more love, which entails building positive emotions as well as facing and releasing negative ones.
Instead of spinning out of control with anger when you’re hurt, you can respond from a more centered, empathic place. Whatever interaction you’re having—business or personal—you can own the moment. You first sense the emotion, then make a conscious choice about how to respond. That’s very different from what most people do, which is simply to react.
Oftentimes we feel frantic and in survival mode because we have so many needs screaming at us. The bills need to be paid, the kids need to be cared for and the phone is ringing. It’s not easy to take the time to pay attention to our inner state.
It’s not, because we haven’t been trained to do that—and that’s the whole point of my book. Lately I’ve been working with people who have lost their jobs. They are scared and their concerns are very real, but if they’re in their small self of worry and fear and can’t find that calm place inside, where intuitive wisdom gives them a broader sense of their situation, then they’re not going to be able to move forward very well.
Emotional freedom will help people shift out of that and create space inside. I see it as a spiritual challenge: to be able to look at whatever you’re going through as a challenge to open up your heart and not shut down, to listen to your intuition and become a more loving and expanded person.
So there is tremendous opportunity in all these setbacks people are experiencing.
Yes. I worked with a group of twelve women who were laid off and who had never reached out for help before. They formed a sisterhood of support, and now they call on each other for help in getting through this difficult period. For them, having that support circle in such a time of stress is a dream come true.
There also is a temptation to hunker down, pull the sheets over our heads and wait until the difficult stage passes. But if we do that, we are missing out on some hidden gifts.
I agree. If it’s not this difficult stage, it will be another one. You can’t really hide from it. Sooner or later, we need to learn the skills. This is the experience of being alive.
Emotional freedom is about mastering whatever it is that comes your way without going under. It’s about feeling empowered, believing in yourself and your own intuition, knowing you can get through difficult times. Part of the spiritual journey here is to believe in yourself and the power of loving.
And to expand our awareness beyond the experience of the five senses.
Absolutely, that’s essential: to be able to use the sixth sense to give us added information about what to do. When I interviewed Quincy Jones, he said, “It’s listening to the goose bumps.” People can relate to that—when you get goose bumps thinking about a possible path, you know to go ahead.
Using the techniques I teach in my book, I worked with one of my patients to help her calm down. She had lost her job and was in a very precarious situation, but she wasn’t getting anywhere with all the worry. I helped her tune into her intuition long enough so that she had a flash of looking at a newspaper that she never looked at before to find a job. And sure enough, it was in that newspaper that she found one.
As tempting as it is to stay worried and as justified as we might feel doing so, people have to learn to shift to another place to see how to get out of the trouble they’re in. Intuition is invaluable in this process. It’s a creative problem-solver.
Let’s take a practical example for our readers who have networking businesses. It’s ten days before the end of the month and you know you need to sign up three more people in order to make your car payment or pay your mortgage. You wake up with that pit in your stomach. What can you do?
First, notice the pit in your stomach, then take a five-minute time-out or do the three-minute meditation I suggest in the book, to calm yourself. You can come back to your worry later, it will still be there. Tune into your intuition and literally ask it a question, such as, “What can I do to find the three more people? I need guidance.” Ask one clear question; don’t ask more than one, because then the answer gets confused.
You can also follow your breath to calm yourself down. Get into a very quiet, receptive state. Then just see what flashes come to you. These are creative flashes that come through intuition. And then follow through on them—take action.
Do this every day, or even a couple of times a day, and you will really hone your intuition to get creative input about how to find those three people and recognize who they are.
When talking about the negativity that surrounds us, you mention “emotional vampires.” How do we protect ourselves and stay clear?
You can learn to recognize who the emotional vampires are and strategize how to deal with them before you encounter them. You may be dealing with a victim, a controller, a criticizer, a narcissist, a drama queen or king. You need to have your strategies in place so that when you encounter one of the “vampire” types, you don’t become reactive, you can stay centered and not have your buttons pushed.
These “emotional vampires” are, of course, simply roles people have picked up as a coping mechanism. How do you reach the bigger person behind the drama queen? How do you connect beyond that?
With a drama queen or king, don’t ask them how they’re doing, particularly if it’s a coworker or team member, because that will feed into their drama. Stay calm and set limits for them. You can say, “I’m so sorry your boyfriend broke up with you for the tenth time. I’m really, really sorry, but we have to get back to work now.”
You want to be kind and firm. This will enable you to set clear boundaries, because the drama queen or king gets mileage from intensity. If you commiserate, “Oh, my God, tell me about it,” then they’re off and running.
How do we deal with a significant loss such as losing our home?
First, there’s a natural grieving process; when you lose something meaningful, allow the grief and the anger to work through. Then consider the possibility that downsizing may have its advantages. Make whatever new home you move to a beautiful, sacred space, instead of going there resentfully. Make it a loving space, a place where you prepare meals and have friends over. Love your animal and your plants, or whatever you bring into the new space. Fill it up with love instead of being resentful.
Go back to basics.
Yes, but the attitude with which you do it is critical. That’s the key to creating positive energy in your new home. I know people who live in the tiniest spaces, and they are just a joy to be with because of all the love and candles and decorations in there. It’s beautiful. It’s not space so much as energy that’s important. Space is important too, but energy can transform a space.
Emotional freedom is about your attitude. You can start out hopeful or not. We become what we are: if we’re hopeful, we become hope; if we’re fearful, we become fear. We have to be very careful not to feed the negative in ourselves.
How do you see the world of business evolving through the lessons we’re learning today?
I believe the greatest thing that’s going to come out of our economic crisis is the spirit of collaboration, the awareness that we’re all in this together, that we’re all one human family—not us versus them, which is an illusion. When we come together as a business community or as a globe, it changes our perspective on everything. That’s what our current situation is causing people to see, how we all affect one another so intimately, how our economic market affects Europe and Asia and the rest of the world. We all resonate, and money is the vehicle that is allowing people to see that.
Do you think we’ll do business differently five to ten years from now?
I think people are going to be working together more, as opposed to being competitive and operating from a paradigm of greed. The need to hoard things and leverage investments to the nth degree in fictitious schemes is rooted in the irrational fear that we’re not going to have enough.
It’s the linear mind that perceives it this way, while the intuitive mind that sees that that’s not true. When people see emotions through the linear mind, they’re only torture. But if you see them through the intuitive mind, you can see their greater meaning in terms of how they can help you to transform into a more beautiful, loving person.
The same holds true for business. The hoarders are just in their linear minds, but if they were able to tap into their heart and intuition about how to truly be safe and safeguard their finances, they’d see that this would also happen through giving and contribution.
Do you see us moving away from this model where we work a job, Monday through Friday, just to pay the bills, into a life more fully lived day-to-day, where we support ourselves doing what we really want to do, what our purpose is?
I do. The group I mentioned, the twelve women who lost their jobs, now want to start a business together. They came from the corporate world and now they want to run a restaurant and be very service-oriented. That’s a microcosm for what’s happening on a larger scale. When people lose something, they’re forced to bond and they come up with a new idea that’s more cooperative. That seems to be the energy flow.
Perhaps we’ll start to see more small businesses, where people are fully invested, not only with their time and money but also with deeper levels of their being.
Yes, and also with different members of the community all coming together, friends forming businesses, or networks of people with like-minded beliefs, such as bringing love and intuition into business, and bringing real service to people. We’re moving in this direction because our situation is forcing us to. We never had the motivation to do it before because we were comfortable with our paychecks coming in.
But not anymore. Today you’ve got to think really creative thoughts, and intuition helps you to think on your feet—which your mind will never do, because it’s too afraid. I believe so strongly in the impulse of love and service, that when people are coming from that place, they’re going to succeed. That’s the great shift that’s emerging out of this crisis. For many people it feels very disruptive, but it’s really an opportunity to find a different way of living. We’re naturally moving towards more community and partnership for our survival, which I think is beautiful.
And it’s awakening the entrepreneur inside.
Those who didn’t even know they had one are finding it. We’re waking up from our trance, which is good, but hard, so we need support from our community as well as from our own spirit within. We need all the emotional and intuitive guidance we can get, so we can wake up to the multi-dimensional beings we truly are.