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(Judith Orloff) The empath's survival guide - life strategies for sensitive people

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relationship	is	over.”
Then	break	the	stick	in	half,	leave	the	pieces	on	the	ground,	walk
away,	and	never	look	back.	This	finalizes	the	ceremony	of	closure.
12.	Protect	Yourself	from	Rageaholics
Rageaholics	deal	with	conflict	by	accusing,	attacking,	and	controlling,	and	often
yell	to	make	a	point.	They	usually	behave	most	poorly	around	their	loved	ones.
Use	the	following	strategies	to	protect	yourself	from	them:
• Let	the	rageaholic	know	that	you	hear	them.	Then	suggest	that	you
work	the	issue	out	respectfully	when	they	calm	down.	Say	something
like,	“I	want	to	help	you,	but	it’s	hard	for	me	to	listen	when	you’re	in
this	state.”	Refuse	to	engage	with	their	anger.
• Set	a	no-yelling	rule.	It’s	just	not	allowed	around	you.	There	are	other
ways	to	resolve	conflicts	without	yelling.
• Stay	calm.	Do	not	yell	back	when	triggered.	Reacting	impulsively	will
just	drain	you	and	aggravate	the	situation.
• If	the	person	won’t	stop	yelling,	leave	the	room	or	ask	the	person
to	leave.
• Pause	when	you’re	agitated.	Take	a	timeout	to	quiet	the	fight-or-
flight	response.	Count	to	ten	or	take	some	time	alone	if	necessary.	Wait
until	you’re	calm	to	respond	to	someone’s	anger;	otherwise,	the	person
may	dump	more	of	it	on	you.
• Practice	restraint	of	speech,	which	includes	texting,	email,	and	the
phone.	Then	you’ll	be	in	charge	of	your	emotions	when	you	choose	to
address	the	person.
13.	Protect	Yourself	from	Victims
People	with	a	 victim	mentality	 drain	 empaths	with	 their	“the	world	 is	 against
me”	 attitude.	 They	 don’t	 take	 responsibility	 for	 the	 difficulties	 in	 their	 lives.
Empaths	 often	 fall	 into	 the	 compassionate	 caretaker	 role	 with	 people	 who
portray	themselves	as	victims,	trying	to	help	them	solve	their	problems.	Use	the
following	 suggestions	 to	 assert	 boundaries	 with	 these	 people.	 Do	 not	 become
codependent	and	fall	into	the	trap	of	becoming	their	caretaker	or	therapist.
• Set	compassionate	and	clear	boundaries.	People	hear	us	better	when
we’re	not	being	snippy.
• Use	the	Three-Minute	Phone	Call.	This	entails	listening	briefly	and
then	telling	your	friend	or	family	member,	“I	support	you,	but	I	can
only	listen	for	a	few	minutes	if	you	keep	rehashing	the	same	issues.
Perhaps	you’d	like	to	find	a	therapist	to	help	you.”
• Say	“no”	with	a	smile.	With	a	coworker,	smile	and	say	something
like,	“I’ll	hold	positive	thoughts	for	the	best	possible	outcome.	Thank
you	for	understanding	that	I	must	get	back	to	work.”	With	friends	and
family,	briefly	empathize	with	their	problem,	and	then	say	“no”	by
pleasantly	changing	the	subject.	Do	not	encourage	their	complaining.
• Set	limits	with	body	language.	This	is	a	good	time	to	cross	your	arms
and	break	eye	contact	to	send	the	message	that	you’re	busy	and	not
going	to	indulge	them.
14.	Protect	Yourself	from	Drama	Queens	and	Kings
Drama	queens	and	kings	drain	sensitive	people	by	overloading	us	with	too	much
information	and	stimulation.	They	are	energized	when	we	react	to	their	drama,
but	if	we	remain	calm,	they	don’t	get	rewarded.	Be	consistent.	Then	they	will	lose
interest	and	go	on	to	the	next	person.	Here	are	a	few	specific	guidelines:
• Don’t	ask	these	people	how	they	are	doing.	You	don’t	want	to	know.
• If	a	drama	queen	or	king	does	start	up,	breathe	deeply	and	stay
calm.	Do	not	get	caught	in	their	story.
• Set	kind	but	firm	limits.	For	example,	to	a	friend	who	keeps
canceling	plans	with	you	because	of	one	drama	after	another,	you	can
say	something	like,	“I’m	sorry	for	all	your	mishaps,	but	let’s	not
reschedule	until	things	settle	down	for	you	and	you	can	show	up.”	This
way,	you	will	be	communicating	clearly	and	won’t	be	reinforcing	their
15.	Protect	Yourself	from	Control	Freaks	and	Critics
Control	 freaks	 and	 critics	 feel	 qualified	 to	 offer	 their	 unsolicited	 opinion	 and
proceed	 to	 tell	 you,	 whether	 or	 not	 you	 want	 to	 hear	 their	 advice.	 Ongoing
unwelcome	 advice	 like	 this	 is	 draining	 for	 empaths.	 Use	 the	 following
suggestions	to	protect	yourself	from	this	kind	of	dynamic:
• Be	assertive.	Don’t	tell	these	types	what	to	do.	This	will	only	make
them	defensive.	Tell	them	something	like,	“Thanks	for	your	advice,
but	I	want	to	think	about	how	to	approach	this	situation	for	myself.”
• Politely	ask	the	person	to	stop	criticizing	you.	Be	firm	but	not
emotional.	Don’t	play	the	victim.
• Stay	aware.	If	you	notice	that	you	feel	inadequate	around	this	person,
identify	the	self-esteem	issues	that	have	been	triggered	and	work	on
healing	them.	The	more	secure	you	feel,	the	less	these	vampires	can
hurt	you.
16.	Protect	Yourself	from	Nonstop	Talkers
Nonstop	talkers	can	drain	the	life	force	out	of	others,	especially	empaths.	We	are
incredible	listeners	and	often	make	the	mistake	of	tolerating	nonstop	talkers	for
far	too	long.	Then	we	become	exhausted.	Use	the	following	strategies	to	protect
• Nonstop	talkers	don’t	respond	to	nonverbal	cues.	These	include
looking	impatient	or	restless.	You	must	interrupt	them,	as	hard	as	this
may	be	to	do.
• Although	you	may	feel	like	saying,	“Be	quiet	because	you’re
driving	me	crazy,”	that	will	only	make	the	talker	defensive	or
angry.	Instead,	smile	and	nicely	excuse	yourself.	You	might	say,
“Please	pardon	me	for	interrupting,	but	I	need	to	talk	to	someone	else
at	the	party,”	or	“I	have	an	appointment	I	must	keep.”	A	socially
acceptable	reason	to	leave	that	I	often	use	is	“I	have	to	go	to	the
• Express	yourself	in	a	neutral	and	nonblaming	tone.	For	example,
you	can	say,	“I’d	like	to	add	to	the	discussion	too.	It	would	be	great	if
you	would	let	me	contribute.”	If	you	communicate	without	irritation,
you	are	more	likely	to	be	heard.
• Use	humor.	For	example,	with	people	you	know	well,	you	can
jokingly	say,	“The	clock	is	ticking,”	as	one	good	friend	does	with	me
when	I	get	long-winded.
17.	Protect	Yourself	from	Passive-Aggressive	People
Passive-aggressive	 people	 express	 their	 anger	 with	 a	 smile	 instead	 of	 yelling.
They	 sugarcoat	 hostility	 and	 send	 confusing	 messages,	 but	 empaths	 can
intuitively	sense	the	anger	beneath	the	pleasant	facade.	Here	are	some	strategies
to	protect	yourself	from	this	behavior:
• Trust	yourself.	Don’t	question	your	response	to	them,	because	their
anger	is	hidden.	Trust	your	intuition.
• Recognize	the	pattern	and	address	the	behavior.
• Focus	on	one	issue	at	a	time	so	that	the	person	doesn’t	feel
attacked.	For	instance,	if	a	friend	keeps	saying	“yes”	when	you	ask
for	help	but	doesn’t	follow	through,	you	can	say	in	a	neutral	tone:
“Please	don’t	make	a	commitment	if	you	can’t	follow	through.”	Then
notice	how	the	person	responds.	They	might	say,	“I	apologize.	I	have
to	be	more	focused.”	Then,	see	if	their	behavior	changes.	If	it	doesn’t,
you	can	raise	the	issue	with	them	again	or	simply	accept	that	they’re
not	dependable	and	stop	making	any	further	requests.
• If	you	can’t	get	a	direct	answer	from	the	person,	ask	them	to
clarify	their	position.	It’s	important	to	address	the	behavior	and	find	a
solution.	Being	specific	with	someone	who	is	passive-aggressive	will
make	them	take	a	stand.
18.	How	to	Cure	an	Emotional	Hangover
Despite	 your	 best	 efforts,	 it’s	 not	 uncommon	 to	 experience	 an	 “emotional
hangover,”	 an	 energetic	 residue	 left	 over	 from	 interactions	 with	 energy
vampires.	Toxic	emotions	can	linger	long	afterward,	making	you	feel	exhausted
or	ill	or	beset	with	brain	fog.	You	may	need	time	to	recuperate.	Try	the	following
suggestions	for	your	emotional	hangover:
• Practice	the	shower	meditation.	While	you’re	standing	under	the
stream	of	water	in	your	shower,	say	this	affirmation:	“Let	this	water
wash	all	the	negative	energy	from	my	body,	mind,	and	spirit.”	Feel	the
shower	cleansing	you,	making	you	clean,	fresh,	positive,	and
• Use	gemstones.	Carry	a	crystal	to	help	ground	you	and	ward	off