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Honoring Your True Needs

The following is an excerpt from The Genius of Empathy by Judith Orloff, MD

On your journey of empathy, it’s vital to create a life that is in synch with your true needs. For me, this means taking “the road less traveled.” I’ve always been the “outsider” who loves solitude, shies away from parties, and often prefers the company of the ocean or a tree to most people. My whole life, I’ve talked to the flowers, to the birds, and to the moon. As a child I felt like an alien who didn’t belong here. Now, I adore my sensitivities and wouldn’t want it any other way.

Whatever your gifts are, releasing shame about feeling different is crucial. I urge you to discard the notion of who others told you to be. Then you can become 100 percent yourself in your views, choices, and sensibilities. Even if you don’t know where to start, follow my lead. I’m honored to guide you to that freedom.

I applaud all the freethinkers, creatives, loners, and questioners of the norm who dare to be true to themselves.

I salute all the shy, socially awkward kids who somehow survived the adolescent trials of high school to carve their own paths.

I commend everyone who has followed their true extroverted nature and stuck to their vision even when others might have told them to “tone it down” or that their ideas were “too big or unrealistic.”

It’s liberating to release the idea that something is wrong with you for being different.

What’s wonderful about empathy is that it can benefit all kinds of people: those who prefer being insiders or outsiders, empaths or non-empaths, conventional or nonconventional, and anyone in between. Perhaps you don’t identify with any category, and that’s fine. Empathy can improve all our lives and relationships. Some of my patients are outgoing movers and shakers in the world who use empathy in the workplace and their personal lives. Unlike me, they don’t require lots of alone time, and they flourish being around large groups of people. There are many ways to embody empathy that can uniquely suit each individual.

Feeling empathy is the joining point of all bridges going to all places—a coming together of heart and mind.

When I am experiencing empathy, I want to breathe fully, I want to be still and let my heart be filled with empathy’s grace and warmth. This is the language of my heart, but we all may experience empathy differently. You may not be an intense feeler like me.

The Genius of Empathy offers compelling intellectual, emotional, and spiritual reasons to develop your empathy, including the prospect of healing parts of you that may have been in pain longer than you might like to admit. Maybe it’s time to release even the justified grudge festering in your gut so you can be free of that burden. Perhaps you can start gauging your success each day by the number of heartfelt connections you make rather than anything material. Or you can start focusing on a future of wonder rather your scars from love’s wounds. You deserve another chance and a fresh start.

The world is full of good arguments about why we can’t find empathy and peace in our own lives or in the tumultuous world. Consider all the people there are with empathy deficient disorders such as rampant narcissism and bullying. You might ask,

“With these deterrents, how can we possibly love each other or get along?”

The answer comes from your heart, not from your head or from all the logical evidence you can accumulate about human nature’s deficiencies. Empathy offers a path out of misunderstanding and hate. This is my simple focus. To find empathy, a starting place is for your heart to connect with others who value having an open heart too.

Empathy will keep us all bound together; not war-like but tolerant and curious and embracing both our similarities and our differences. That’s why I’m so drawn to it, despite all the “logical” reasons not to be. Year after year, I keep letting empathy expand my practice of medicine, the way I listen to my patients’ needs, and my own life.

Empathy is the best of what it means to be human.

May actualizing this be our purpose—to heal and to love in the midst of adversity and embody a greater optimism. Let empathy help you get there and experience your finest hour. Once you discover that grace, it will never leave you as long as your heart keeps searching for it.

Purchase The Genius of Empathy HERE and receive the Empathy Bonus Gift Collection + Dr. Orloff’s new ebook “4 Ways Empathy Can Empower You and Your Relationships” valued at $300+


Judith Orloff, MD, is a leading voice in the fields of medicine, psychiatry, empathy, and intuitive development and a New York Times bestselling author. A member of the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Staff, her books include The Empath's Survival Guide, Thriving as an Empath, Emotional Freedom, Positive Energy, and Second Sight. She specializes in treating empaths and sensitive people in her private practice.

Find more inspiration at Dr. Orloff's website:


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