Emotional Freedom: An Interview with Dr. Judith Orloff
I was privileged to meet Dr. Judith Orloff in Phoenix. I had interviewed Judith before, but had never met her in person. I was surprised that Dr. Orloff is small in stature and very soft-spoken. Because her books and advice are larger than life, I expected her to be as well.
Emotional Freedom is like a user’s manual for dealing with tough emotions. It teaches us how to work with them and transform them to be our best selves; to be successful according to our own definition of success.
I started out by telling Dr. Orloff that Emotional Freedom is my favorite book of hers. For me it’s powerful in the way that only the truth is powerful. She’s very candid and open about her own emotions and I thanked her for having the courage to do that — it makes it easier for the rest of us.
I wanted to know what compelled her to write this book. “I’m a psychiatrist and an intuitive,” she said. “My passion is teaching people the tools to awaken spirituality, and emotions can be a path to spiritual awakening. People need to learn that rather than just what traditional psychiatry says. I view earth as a spiritual laboratory for us to learn. Emotions are one energy we are given to work with and transform, not suppress. I wanted to teach people how to deal with difficult emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger or frustration.”
In the book, Dr. Orloff talks about the envy she felt for years while colleagues of hers reached the New York Times bestseller list and she hadn’t yet achieved it. She did a lot of work to transform her envy.
“I was able to build up my own self-esteem. It’s a matter of getting sure about who you are and what your message is and knowing what you’re doing is enough. I worked on being joyous and happy about what I was doing and keeping my eyes on myself and praying for others when it came up. I looked at is as my spiritual task.”
Orloff says emotions come up repeatedly — it’s their nature, “That’s what I wanted to get across in the book. Any energy you deal with has fluxes; it comes and goes. You have to learn to flow with it; it doesn’t just heal and it’s gone. You make a lot of progress and then it may come back but it won’t be as difficult to deal with.”
Emotional Freedom gained Orloff her coveted spot on the New York Times best-seller list. “I suffered from all the envy I had, and I knew that was my work. I looked at it that way. I still suffered from it — because envy and jealousy cause a lot of suffering inside. By the time, I finally got on the list, and it did make me happy, I really didn’t have much envy anymore.”
Envy is a close relative of jealousy and comparing ourselves to others. Orloff describes envy as the burning sensation of, “why is someone getting something that I’m not?” Jealousy is the fear that something we have will be taken from us. Since I’ve suffered from jealousy and comparing myself to others, I asked Dr. Orloff what I could do in the moment when I’m comparing myself to someone else.
“Show a lot of self-compassion because it’s human to compare yourself to others. You just have to say, ‘allright, I’m doing this, this is my challenge and how can I shift out of it?’ Always look at it as your spiritual challenge. It’s not just some pesky emotion we want to get rid of. This is an energy to work with. Just immediately start praying for the other person and their welfare. Even if you don’t want to. When you feel jealous, you don’t want to stay stuck on that level. We’ll never have peace on earth until we can work with these energies within ourselves because we’re projecting everything onto the other.”
According to Orloff, we need to stop judging ourselves for what we’re feeling, “You work with whatever energy you’re given, but you work with it from a luminous point of view. In traditional psychiatry it’s considered something to get rid of instead of something to transform because traditional psychiatry doesn’t have any conception of subtle energy and that’s a huge missing piece. With emotions, if you don’t see them as energy what are they? If you lose the spiritual and energetic element, you have a blind spot; you’re not seeing the whole thing.”
When we start consciously working with energies such as envy, jealousy and anger, the Universe sends us a situation to heal that energy. That was Orloff’s strategy for writing Emotional Freedom. Imagine the courage it took to invite in whatever difficult emotion she wanted to address. She learned her lessons as she went.
“If I was working on frustration and practicing patience, I’d take a few months to work with that energy. While writing that chapter I developed writer’s block.”
As she worked through the block, Orloff had a dream with a phone number. She dialed the number to be greeted by, “UCLA labor and delivery room” on the other end of the phone. “The universe was telling me I was birthing something and to just relax. When the cosmos gets me to laugh, I know I’m on the right track. I can listen because it knows how to talk to me.”
Orloff says emotional freedom is having a small ego and a large soul. I asked her what she meant by this. “The more humble you can get and the less impressed with yourself you can be, and the more you can give. The more positive energy you’ll have. The ego shuts everything down and you’ll have really arrogant, narcissistic people that are very constricted and it’s not how you want to be.”
Orloff’s own definition of success is about developing the spirit. “Success to me is emotional freedom. It’s about finding joy in what you do; it’s about staying true to a new way of being because the world needs to be transformed and part of that transformation happens with the way you see things. It’s about who you are and the goodness that you spread.”
To me it’s no coincidence that Emotional Freedom landed Orloff on the New York Times best-seller list. Her courage and determination to learn about challenging emotions so she could truly teach others is selfless and inspiring. Being of service has truly led Orloff to success.