An Interview with
Dr. Judith Orloff
By Randy Peyser



What would it feel like to not get triggered every time the one member of your family who pushes your buttons spouts off with advice about how you should run your life? How free would you feel if you no longer worried, or if you could let go of anger, depression, or any other brooding emotion?

In Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Harmony Books), multiple New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Judith Orloff, takes on the toughest negative emotions we all deal with and presents some action steps and self-quizzes to help us transform these difficult emotions into their most positive counterpoints.

A psychiatrist who originally gained notoriety for coming out of the "intuitive closet," Dr. Orloff explains why those who are willing to do the transformational work that leads to emotional freedom have embarked upon a hero's journey, and how effects of doing one's own personal work toward emotional freedom ripples out to the world.

Randy Peyser: What is Emotional Freedom?

Dr. Judith Orloff: Emotional Freedom teaches people how to transform negative emotions. Having emotional freedom means that you can increase your ability to love by cultivating positive emotions and can compassionately witness and transform negative emotions ... whether they are yours or another's.

Emotional freedom is a fundamental living skill that liberates you from fear. It lets you navigate diversity without going on the attack, or losing your cool, or being derailed by negative emotions. The result is that you can choose to react constructively, rather than relinquish your power in situations where your buttons get pushed.

Randy: You identify the seven difficult emotions as fear, frustration, loneliness, anxiety, depression, jealousy and anger. You state that each contains within it an ability to transform it into its counterpoint emotion. Can you say more about this?

Judith: I look at emotions as a path of spiritual awakening. Each emotion has a counterpoint, a spiritual awakening value. All of these difficult emotions are the stimulus to spiritually expand ourselves. For example, you can't have courage without fear. It's impossible. There would be no impetus to develop courage.

Randy: What are the counterpoints for each of the difficult emotions?

Judith: Loneliness is transformed with the feeling of connection. Anxiety and worry need the counterpoint of inner calm. Facing depression is the counterpoint of feeling hope. Facing jealousy is the counterpoint of self-esteem. The point of your fear is to develop courage. The counterpoint for frustration is learning patience.

Randy: How do we gain emotional freedom?

Judith: To gain emotional freedom, you have to look at the spiritual lesson an emotion is teaching you. For example, ask yourself, how is this anger teaching me courage? Or how can this fury teach me compassion? You take it to another level so you see it as being more than just about another person or situation; it's about your own freedom.

People come to me as a psychiatrist and say, "I wish I could come to you with something more spiritual than a panic attack or depression." But to me that is the most spiritual thing in the world. That's what you start with and begin to transform with its counterpoint. This is the hero's journey.

I've had it with epiphanies. Those things are fine but you can't make your life dependent on them. Those smaller things, like happily letting someone go in front of you in a supermarket line, matter because these little things create enormous light.

Patience is a hugely transformative act. Patience makes you beautiful. When you are patient, you won't have a scowled face or be stressed out. Instead, you will have a very beautiful and open body posture.

When you let people in a line go in front of you and you look at their reactions, it's like you have given them a million dollars. Go stand in the longest possible line you can find, but do it differently. You will feel good about yourself as you see the change that can happen in those lines.

If you can shift the energy in a grocery line, that is a powerful thing. Do not underestimate these acts. It's all a metaphor for a bigger life. You create more light and freedom for yourself through your everyday acts. Here's another thing I do to practice patience: I let cars go in front of me, especially when I am in a hurry. I used to not let anybody in when I was in a hurry. I thought I was justified because I had somewhere to go. Then I tried letting people in ‹ even when I was late ‹ and I got to my destination faster.

Randy: Wow. I can't wait for my next traffic jam!

Judith: That is the point. If you mindfully do something different and see the results, you will see why you do it.

Randy: I wish it were that easy to transform anger.

Judith: Notice how the Dalai Lama treats China after the persecution of his beloved people. He is not harboring anger; he talks about compassion. Facing anger is the counterpoint of compassion. Even if you are correct in being angry, when you can begin to have compassion beyond your own needs, things soften a little bit.

People get very caught up in being right. Why should you give it up? The reason to give it up is to free your self. Every emotional act you make that comes from your Higher Self will better you and the world. Then we will have hope at achieving global peace.

Until individuals can do this, there is no way we can gather that energy to do it on a collective level. If we can do this kind of work when there is an injustice, we can come to a very different place in terms of viewing one another.

This is not an enlightened planet. We are faced with a lot of dark and light energies. Emotions give us a chance to work on this in ourselves. We are able to see our anger, fear or frustration and use these as an impetus to transform them into something better. You make these kinds of transformations so that you can be free... and transforming your own negative emotions ripples out into the world.

Randy: You have identified four Emotional Types and discussed the importance of understanding each of these types to achieve emotional freedom. Can you elaborate?

Judith: These four Emotional Types are the Empath, the Intellectual, the Gusher, and the Rock. It is important to understand your Emotional Type because it is the template by which you approach the world. It is also part of your basic nature. Knowing your emotional type provides a platform to evolve emotionally.

For example: Empaths are energetically sensitive... they tend to absorb energy and emotions from others and get overwhelmed. Energetically-sensitive people can be single for a long time. They avoid romantic partnerships, even if they say they want them, because deep down they are afraid of getting engulfed.

Empaths need to learn to set boundaries and create their own personal space within a relationship. Empaths can share love and have a partner, but they don't have to do it in a traditional way.

If you are an Empath, you'll need to negotiate your square footage needs with a partner. You need alone time, and sometimes even separate homes. Create a situation where you don't necessarily have to sleep in the same bedroom, or where you can have separate spaces in your house to go off to, or where you can take mini-breaks.

Empaths tend to overeat to cope with emotional stress and numb out negative emotions. In fact, at the turn of the century, faith healers were obese women. They claimed they could not do healing without all that fat because it absorbed all the pain and the negativity of their patients.

I am an Empath. I get dizzy in crowds because I can sense the energy and emotions in other people and it's intense. I practice the principles in my book so I can keep myself grounded and centered and not absorb other people's emotions. That's what an Empath needs to do to find balance. It's important to be open, intuitive and sensitive, but not to take on other people's stuff.

If you're an Empath and encountering emotional overload, I recommend practicing "guerrilla meditation" where you act fast and meditate for three minutes. For example... if you are overwhelmed at a family gathering, find a private place, like a bathroom, close your eyes and breathe. Then focus on something positive to bring yourself back to center.

I think about a place where I like to hike or I focus on somebody's face. Exhale pent-up negative emotions and feel them dissipate with every breath. Then put your hands over your heart and visualize loving kindness permeating you from head to toe.

Shopping can also be hard for Empaths because crowds are overwhelming. I suggest eating a high-protein meal before you go into any crowd because that grounds you. Empaths need to allow for quiet time to emotionally decompress.  If you are in a big theater, sit in a far corner. Don't sit in the center because then you will absorb more people's emotions.

The next Emotional Type is the Intellectual, who is bright, articulate, and an incisive analyst. They tend to have a cerebral approach to emotions. When stress hits, they take refuge in their own heads as the first line of coping. Everything in their world is powerfully filtered through rational thought. That is their strength.

Intuition and spirituality are not real to them because they don't inhabit their gut enough to experience what it means to be in their body. Intellectuals are at risk for becoming cut off from their emotions and dismiss them as too soft or illogical.

The Intellectual's upside is that they are an analyzer with a great sense of logic. They are able to debate a point and stay calm in emotionally-heated situations. But the downside is they may live from the neck up and have difficulty connecting with their feelings or the feelings of others. They may seem cold or withholding. They also forget to be playful.

The third type is the Rock. Rocks are emotionally strong, as well as being extremely practical. If you are reeling from emotions, the Rocks won't lose their cool. You can sob and complain and they won't pull away or judge. But Rocks aren't Empaths; they genuinely care about you, but they do not bear the brunt of your feelings. That's not how they are made. They prefer life to be on an even keel.

Rocks are also often the most dependable people in the room. They will not say, "I'll be there in spirit"... they will actually show up for your birthday and for your events.

Oftentimes, it is easier for Rocks to listen than to share their feelings. People tend to come to them with their troubles because they stay calm. The trouble with Rocks is that they can be detached from their feelings, and harbor anger, resentment and frustration and not know they have it. Additionally, their relationships can lack excitement, passion and depth. People complain that Rocks are boring. They don't make waves or challenge themselves to grow. They would rather avoid conflict than confront difficult issues.

The key to balancing a Rock is for them to begin to get more familiar with their feelings and to express a feeling each day. They need to literally be trained to feel and express and reach out. They need to begin to notice what happens in their bodies when they feel something.

Randy: How is the Rock different from the Intellectual?

Judith: Rocks aren't in their heads. Intellectuals think and analyze. Rocks don't do that. They don't over-think or analyze; they are emotionally detached and don't get involved.

Randy: Are they guided by practicality?

Judith: Practicality, common sense and not wanting to make waves. They will be there for you, but they are not passionate. Intellectuals can be very passionate with their intellect.

Randy: Tell me about the Gusher.

Judith: Gushers are superb at knowing their own emotions and they talk about them excessively. Gushers tend to be spontaneous, direct, and trusted confidants, but the Gusher unloads stress by talking. They are the opposite of Rocks.

I am part Gusher because I know how freeing that can be. I always talk to friends about what is going on. I call them if I'm afraid because I don't want to keep anything in. If I keep negative emotions in my body, they will turn against me, and I will get physical symptoms.

The problem with Gushers is that they may reach out too quickly before going inward to find their answers. They seek external feedback before they consult with their intuition, which is not good. Also, their need to share excessively may burn people out. Gushers don't breathe and center themselves and go inside for their answers. That is where they are off balance. They are candidates for becoming drama queens.

Gushers often haven't fully embraced their inner power or spiritual strengths. Gushers find balance by learning how to empower themselves with self-sufficiency. Before always reaching out first, they need to learn to go inward and tune into their intuition to find a solution. They need to spend a few quiet moments meditating to see what kinds of images or "aha's" come to them about improving a situation before they reach out. Each type has its pluses and negatives; the key for each one is to find its balance.

Randy: Does your work involve tapping on points on the body?

Judith: No, my work is entirely different.

Randy: Last thoughts?

Judith: Emotional freedom is not just about the individual. It is important to have a consciousness about humankind with everything we do because we are one big organism on an intuitive level. So everything we do, whatever steps we can take, ripples out into the world to help us all.

The path to emotional freedom is a hero's journey. Every act, whether large or small, is a heroic act. Every choice we make to triumph over negativity, large or small, is about transforming energy. And the potent nature of such ongoing transformations makes us stronger, brighter and more resilient, which acts to illuminate the world.

For more information about "Emotional Freedom," or the "Introduction to Emotional Freedom Companion" CD and DVD, visit

Randy Peyser is the author of "The Power of Miracle Thinking." She also edits books and helps people find publishers or self-publish.


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