The Genius of Empathy with Dr. Judith Orloff

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Discover the power of saying no while maintaining your emotional balance in a world full of chaos with Dr. Judith Orloff and Dr. Karen Curry Parker.

“You have empathy for the suffering that caused the acts. And that frees you from being obsessed about them.

It allows you to do the work you need to do instead of carrying around all these dark, negative people.”

 – Dr. Judith Orloff, MD, New York Times bestselling author, member of the psychiatric clinical faculty at UCLA, and today’s guest on Quantum Revolution

Today, Dr. Judith Orloff explores the profound connection between intuition and healing. Discover how tuning into your inner voice can guide you through life’s challenges and enhance your well-being. Dr. Orloff provides insights into how empaths and highly sensitive individuals can develop their intuitive abilities to create a more fulfilling and balanced life. Embrace the transformative power of intuition and learn to trust your inner guidance.

Check out the video interview on YouTube!


Dr. Judith Orloff:

The Theosophical Society: Your Empathic Superpowers: Healing Yourself and Your Relationships:

The Genius of Empathy: Practical Skills to Heal Your Sensitive Self, Your Relationships, and the World:

Quantum Revolution:

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To learn more about Karen and her team, head to

For more information and for full transcripts (starting with season 6), please go to our website at

Produced by Number Three Productions,


[0:00] Introduction to this episode, “The Genius of Empathy with Dr. Judith Orloff,” with Dr. Karen Curry Parker.

[2:21] Introducing Dr. Judith Orloff, MD.

[3:15] The difference between compassion and empathy.

[4:45] Being sensitive and empathic without getting overwhelmed and burned out.

[8:33] Setting boundaries as an empathetic person.

[10:12] Empathic listening skills and additional tools.

[15:04] Can empathy increase immune response?

[16:59] The other side: Can unemphatic acts and social media decrease immune response?

[20:21] The one big message Dr. Judith Orloff has for readers and listeners of The Genuis of Empathy.

[22:46] Thanking Dr. Orloff and additional resources.

[24:06] Outro to this episode, “The Genius of Empathy with Dr. Judith Orloff,” with Dr. Karen Curry Parker.



Introduction to this episode, “The Genius of Empathy with Dr. Judith Orloff”, with Dr. Karen Curry Parker.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: We live in a world of chronic burnout. It’s easy to assume that we’re burned out because of challenging work situations, high cost of living, a high stress environment, overstimulation, and feeling overwhelmed or powerless because of terrible circumstances in the world. Burnout can cause you to shut down, close down your empathy and even your heart, not because you don’t care, but because you can’t care anymore.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: Living with your heart wide open and not knowing how to process all the things that you feel, those things you can’t necessarily fix, can be exhausting. Empathy is a key emotional intelligence that allows you to care with kindness, and sometimes boundaries, so that you can be compassionate when necessary, but also sustain yourself.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: Healthy empathy gives you the ability to care without burning out. Today’s guest, Judith Orloff, MD, asserts that we are the keepers of an innate, intuitive, and empathic intelligence so perceptive that it can help us heal or even prevent illness. Yet these qualities, along with spirituality, are the very aspects of our wisdom often disenfranchised from conventional health self-care.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: Dr. Orloff has often been called the godmother of the empath movement. In her new book, The Genius of Empathy, she presents practical skills to develop the superpower of empathy in your daily life so that you can care without burning out.

[Introduction to the Quantum Revolution Podcast]

Intro: You’re listening to Quantum Revolution with Karen Curry Parker, exploring new frontiers in consciousness, science, and evolution. Join us in intimate conversations with cutting edge scientists, spiritual leaders, artists, disruptors, and visionaries who are working towards reframing the narrative of our future by healing the rift between spirituality and science, reclaiming creativity, and laying the foundation for a new world.

And now, here’s your host, Karen Curry Parker.

[Interview dialogue with Karen Curry Parker and [guest]]

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: Hi, and welcome to quantum revolution. I’m Dr. Karen Curry Parker, and I’m here today with Dr. Judith Orloff. We’re going to be talking about Dr. Orloff’s new book, The Genius of Empathy. And I have to just share with you. I’ve been reading this book out loud to my 15-year-old, who is. What I would call a very sensitive person and the idea she’s actually been through a really big episode this, this year in school with a bully, um, and learning how to let go of the bully situation and doing it with this big, beautiful heart that she has has been really challenging.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: So, your book has given me a lot of good insights to help her. So, thank you for that.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: You, you start your book off with, I think a really important exploration that, uh, you know, I would like to kind of begin with, and you talk about the difference between compassion and empathy. Can you explain to us what’s the difference between compassion and empathy?

Dr. Judith Orloff: Yes, that’s a big topic lately, and I just want to say that the book has a foreword by the Dalai Lama, and he writes about compassion and empathy from his point of view, so he’s the source. But in terms of what most people think of compassion and empathy, empathy is where you feel what’s going on in somebody else, and you actually feel it in your own self, and it’s like putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes.

Dr. Judith Orloff: So, you’re just resonating with what they’re going through. Uh, compassion often implies some action oriented, uh, task. For instance, if your neighbor is, is, uh, doesn’t have enough money to eat, you could go to the market and get the neighbor lots of nice food for him to eat. So that’s compassion. Um, and empathy is more the feeling, the intuition, the feeling, the connection, which if people, what connection?

Dr. Judith Orloff: this is the way to get it. It’s a, it’s a great way to connect to other human beings. Um, and compassion is more action oriented.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: So, I, I think, you know, when I would say most of our listeners would fall into what I might lovingly call the light worker realm. They are coaches, healers, people who I would say are naturally pretty heart centered and probably pretty empathic. So how do, and you’ve done a lot of work about writing about sensitive people.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: How does a sensitive person become. empathetic or empathic and not get overwhelmed, uh, struggle with boundaries, all, all those things that happen to really sensitive people that can cause them to actually really kind of be burned out from caring.

Dr. Judith Orloff: that’s right. That’s the big challenge, isn’t it? Um, I’m not, I just want to say I’m a psychiatrist and I have traditional psychiatric training and I’m also an empath. So, I combine both of those and, and as a result, I’ve had to learn how not to take on the energy of other people. Otherwise, there’s there’s no way I could do my work over a period of many years, which is what I want to do.

Dr. Judith Orloff: And, um, so one has to learn if you’re sensitive, you can’t get around this, you have to learn how to set boundaries with people. And you have to realize that it’s not your job to take on everyone else’s pain. And you have to know this in a deep level, because many people have had an upbringing where where they’re taught you can’t be compassionate unless you take on this person’s horrible pain that you’ll, you’ll take it on because you’re the martyr.

Dr. Judith Orloff: And so, it’s a martyr archetype, but you can’t really have that if you’re empathic and you work in healthcare and you’re a light worker, uh, many light workers come to me just exhausted. They don’t know how they’re going to do it anymore because you know, they there’s basic ideologies. In terms of The Genius of Empathy that you need to get, and one is that it’s not your job to fix someone, which changes the whole way you deal with people.

Dr. Judith Orloff: Um, if you see it as my job is to fix you, if you have appendicitis, if you have major depression, you know, if you have a loss in your family, if my job is to fix you, You’re, you’re not going to have any energy left because there’s so many people who are going through so many things and it’s not your responsibility.

Dr. Judith Orloff: However, you can be a healer and you could hold space for people and not take on their stuff by keeping a, an extra little foot of distance from them and not become a mesh to take a breath and just say, this person is a separate being from me. I respect the dignity of your path and I’m going to. try and help with your suffering, but I’m not going to take it on.

Dr. Judith Orloff: That’s not my job to take it on. And that’s an important distinction. Philosophically, you need to think about that. You know, everyone listening, just think about that to see how you truly feel as if there’s any part of you that feels it’s your job to take on other people’s emotions and pain, then you’re going to do it.

Dr. Judith Orloff: There’s a 1 percent it’ll sneak in. So it’s a very important, uh, philosophy. And then also setting limits with people is, if somebody is draining your energy or somebody is an energy vampire at work and they’re, they don’t mean to, they’re not conscious of it. What do you do? You know, you have to learn how to set boundaries with them rather than listen to two hours.

Dr. Judith Orloff: with a friend who’s, you know, talking about all the pain that he or she is in and going around in circles, two hours, same thing tomorrow night, same thing. So, it’s okay to say, you know, you could give a referral, you know, I could do that because I feel comfortable doing that because I can’t take it all on.

Dr. Judith Orloff: It’s like way too much for me. And I tell them that and that kind of thing. And it kind of makes it better if you can do it in a matter of fact, it’s too much. I just had a big day, but you know, I can listen. If you want to get into solutions, you know, it’s a great person to work with. They just have one good referral that you can send people to.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: So, you talk about setting boundaries, do you have some techniques or some tips for sensitive people for how they can get better at setting boundaries?

Dr. Judith Orloff: Oh yes. I have a. for each type of draining person and what to say to them and how to, how to deal with it. For instance, if somebody is, um, you know, a drama queen and they come into your work situation and everything’s a drama and they, everything, they try and get your attention. And you know, the, the, my tire was flat.

Dr. Judith Orloff: My boyfriend left me, my mother doesn’t understand me, my, you know, on and on. It’s just, it’s just, Makes empaths dizzy with all of this stuff, it’s just not, you know, it’s interesting because what I’m suggesting in the book is listen to your body as you’re talking to certain people so that you can know when something doesn’t feel right, and so what you say to a drama queen is, you know, first of all, you don’t ever ask them how they’re doing, you don’t do that, you you know, you have to stop.

Dr. Judith Orloff: That’s hard for empaths. How is it? How is it? You know, you know, don’t ask them. And just say, you know, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’m going to hold you in my heart. I’ve got to get back to my project now. But I’ll really hold you in my heart. And move your body in a different direction. Don’t have your body going like this and intense on listening to them.

Dr. Judith Orloff: Don’t give them the, the idea that you’re really interested in this.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: So, what is the difference then between really getting, I’ll say sucked in, that’s kind of. But getting sucked into somebody’s big story and, you know, listening and being present. How do you shift from that kind of pattern of listening and getting drawn in to becoming an empathic listener? What’s, what is an empath?

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: What are some empathic listening skills? Mm-Hmm.

Dr. Judith Orloff: There’s a whole chapter in the book on empathic listening because it can be trained and if you’re a sensitive person, a light worker, um, and you work with your, you know, a body worker especially because you’re putting your hands on people and you tend to absorb, you know, you have to, you know, have the proper attitude when you go in there that you’re going to be feeling all kinds of things when you work with them, all right?

Dr. Judith Orloff: But you can use the breath. To breathe it out and listening empathically means holding space for somebody. And that doesn’t mean getting involved or jumping in their energy or getting, you know, overly involved with fixing them. It just means you’re coming from your heart. Empathy means you open up your heart.

Dr. Judith Orloff: You come down from your head. You open up your heart. And you hold that heart centered loving space for someone as they’re sharing with you. And I want to say that there’s a time limit. You don’t want to go open ended sharing. That’s exhausting. for listening. Unless you like it, you know, I’m just giving you parameters, but most people just too much open-ended sharing.

Dr. Judith Orloff: It could go on forever. So usually, 10 minutes is good or 15 minutes or sometimes 5 minutes if that’s all you have. But you can give so much in that time. I want to emphasize that you could be an empathic, loving person listening to the sound bites of what they’re expressing. You don’t have to hear the whole story.

Dr. Judith Orloff: You know, that’s where lightworkers get drained is the life story. Because if you’re an empath, you were an invisible sign that says, you know, I can heal you come to me.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: Mm-Hmm. Mm-Hmm.

Dr. Judith Orloff: So that’s just part of it. But you need to know that. And it’s okay to say no to it. Like, Wish I could, but I can’t, not right now, you know, and I take, I practice self-care a lot and that’s what I talk about in the book, the importance of self-care for empathic people, because if you don’t have self-care, you’re going to get worn down and you might get physical symptoms and I talk about in the book, empathic symptoms.

Dr. Judith Orloff: You can actually read. So empathic. You pick up the symptoms of another if you’re a physical empath. And if you do that, don’t panic, but begin to breathe it out. You don’t want to keep it in your body. Just the breath is a wonderful vehicle for letting go of things. And you don’t want to hold your breath.

Dr. Judith Orloff: People hold their breath when they get scared. You want to, um, realize I’m, I’m not around some good energy here and just breathe it out. Or I’ve taken on something. I noticed something in my stomach. I noticed something in my knee. You know, just breathe it out. It’s okay. Cause sometimes really empathic people do this.

Dr. Judith Orloff: It’s not. You know, it’s not abnormal. I think what I want to say when you develop empathy and The Genius of Empathy is seen beyond all those messages that people gave you when you were little, you know, you’re overly sensitive, you know, you need to develop a thicker skin. There’s something wrong with you.

Dr. Judith Orloff: And none of that is true. And so that should be a big weight lifted from you, not another group. It’s a beautiful thing to have empathy and to express it and to learn how to take care of yourself so you don’t take on the angst of the world, you know, and you can be functional with your empathy and have a good time in life.

Dr. Judith Orloff: You don’t want to be tired all the time.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: Mm-Hmm. Mm-Hmm.

Dr. Judith Orloff: you’re getting tired, you have to take a pause, you know, and say what’s tiring me out, honestly. It could be a good friend who’s tiring you out. You know, so it could be, I had a friend who wanted to share something with me and she, she went on for two hours.

Dr. Judith Orloff: And I’m like, how do I get out of this? And she was really a good friend, but I couldn’t, I was like going down, down, down, listening to this. And afterwards she came to me and said, was that too much? I said, yeah, a little bit. I got pretty tired from it and I, you know, that’s the, the What you do in a good friendship.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: Well, and I think it. I, I really appreciate that story because I think in, in good relationships, we are aware not just of the dynamics, but also of the energetics because that, you know, that it can be depleting, especially if you’re sensitive or, and especially if you’re sensitive and you’re in a relationship with someone who isn’t to recognize those dynamics.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: So, um, you talk in the book about, which I just thought was fascinating and something to think about, the healing impact of empathy, like how empathy can actually increase immune response. Talk to us a little bit about how empathy is good for you.

Dr. Judith Orloff: Yeah, that’s important to know is that’s really mind blowing. Um, as there’s a section in the book on the neuroscience of empathy, and there’s something called the mother Teresa effect, which is if you’re watching an act of empathy out in your life, let’s say somebody does something really nice for somebody else so you can visually see it.

Dr. Judith Orloff: If I were to dry your blood at that point. Your immunity would have gone up and your stress hormones would have gone down, and you would generally be in a place of greater well-being and it’s really interesting to me how by simply watching an act of empathy can affect your immunity. Your immunity is what you have to fight off.

Dr. Judith Orloff: You know, all the bacteria and everything else out there, plus the negative energy. You want very strong immunity. And just by simply watching it, if you let yourself just, instead of going on to the next fact, you know, really absorb what that means to you and your health and your wellbeing. And so, and if you are the one who is showing empathy in the most small of situations, it doesn’t have to be big.

Dr. Judith Orloff: It can be small. Let me help you across the street. You know, let me get some food for you. Let me take you for a little walk. You know, if it’s an elderly person. You know, it’s, you have no idea how much good that does, and from your immune system, their immune system, raising the vibration of the world, the whole thing.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: So I’m wondering, The, and the question I have is, is the opposite also true if you’re witnessing maybe on un-empathic acts, if you’re empathetic acts, if you’re, you’re watching somebody do terrible things, especially consistency and consistently, and I’m thinking like about social media, for example, and how visual social media is and how we witness sometimes on social media negativity, or even negative comments.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: Can that also. impact our immunity negatively.

Dr. Judith Orloff: Um, I, I would assume so, I don’t have a study on that, like, available, but what I do know is that it increases your, um, norepinephrine and your cortisol, the stress hormones. And what that does, secondarily, is decrease your immunity. So, it’s um, to watch trauma over and over again, to be addicted to the news, all of that has an effect on your body.

Dr. Judith Orloff: Um, in terms of your immunity, in terms of your well-being, in terms of your exhaustion level. You know, you have to set a limit with how much you watch of that. Because suffering is often a surprise to people. They don’t know how much suffering there is in the world. Like the Buddha said, you know, this world is suffering, not just suffering.

Dr. Judith Orloff: There’s many loving people and lots of love around, but there’s tremendous suffering. And when people open up to their empathy, they often open up too much. And it’s, oh my God, how am I going to handle this? You know, and then, you know, you have to set limits with that. And you have to have a life. You don’t want to be.

Dr. Judith Orloff: Obsessed with everyone’s suffering, it’d be a waste of time, you know, you deal with your own suffering, help the people you can, but go out and do wonderful things. Look at the little birds, you know, go for a walk, get outside, you know, look up at the stars. Um, eat some nice food and just do simple things and be happy about it,

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: So how do you deal with the guilt of feeling like, I’m out here having a really beautiful life and there are people suffering? What, what kind of messages can you give yourself?

Dr. Judith Orloff: that it’s okay. You can’t help them. There are 5 billion people on the world. There’s so much you, you, it’s beyond your power to help all these people, except I write in the book, and I believe this profoundly, that if you meditate and you, you pray, not necessarily in a religious way, but just from a heartfelt way.

Dr. Judith Orloff: It can be religious, if you want it to be. Um, you just send love and healing and empathy to everyone who has suffering. everyone in the world. You can send it. Yes, the heart has that capacity. You know, we don’t individually in our minds have the capacity to help all that suffering. But when you and I do this routinely, and I teach it in the book to send love and empathy to Are, you know, humankind’s relatives out there who are suffering, all of them, and the love has the power to do it.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: Mm hmm.

Dr. Judith Orloff: So, I’d suggest that exercise in your life, and it won’t drain you, it will fill you, because you’re coming from the heart.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: So, if you were gonna, if you were gonna recommend your, obviously you would recommend your book to someone, and you would say, this book has one main message for you, what would you say is the main message that you want people to walk away with from this book?

Dr. Judith Orloff: Well, if you want to have better relationships and learn how to have empathy with your loved ones and your coworkers and yourself, empathy is your chance to do that. Empathy will offer you that transformation. And so, the connections with yourself, with others, and with the greater world. Empathy is what.

Dr. Judith Orloff: everybody. And it’s just an amazing thing. And in terms of the overload, yes, you’re going to have to deal with that. And hopefully in the book I give you lots of techniques to work with that. And we all, I work with it all the time. And some days, you know, I get tired. And other days I have great energy. It just depends on, you know, the changes in time, the news, you know, what’s going on in my body, my sleep level, my food, everything.

Dr. Judith Orloff: Cause the empaths are really sensitive to all these elements.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: That’s beautiful. And you know, I, I really appreciate it because there, you’re, there are so many exercises in here and so many breathing techniques and so many different ways to get the nervous system regulated so that you can be present and not overwhelmed. So, uh, you are gonna be speaking, uh, on June the 15th at the Philosophical Research Society.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: You wanna share with us a little bit about what you’re gonna be talking about?

Dr. Judith Orloff: Yes. I’m talking about The Genius of Empathy. I’m talking about how to bring empathy into your relationships and specific things that you could do and, and actionable. Uh, tasks you can do to bring in empathy in your life, how you can use it to heal your body and develop self-empathy to have empathy for those around you and empathy for the greater world.

Dr. Judith Orloff: And when it’s not appropriate to have empathy, there’s those times too, and you, you, you have a different kind of empathy for, for those people who are, you know, the murderers and the, uh, You know, all of that, you know, we come to the workshop and I’ll describe how to do that. You never have empathy for the horrible acts that they do.

Dr. Judith Orloff: You have empathy for the suffering that caused the acts. And what that does is that frees you from being obsessed about them. And it allows you to do the work you need to do instead of carrying around all these, you know, dark, negative people.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: So we’ll, we will post the link below in the, in the podcast so that you all can connect to the, to the program on, on June the 15th with the Theosophical Research Society, Dr. Orloff’s book, The Genius of Empathy, Practical Skills to Heal Your Sensitive Self, Your Relationships, and the World is available for sale.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: You can get it at any major bookstore, Distributor. I got mine off of Amazon. Um, it’s an incredible book. I can’t recommend highly enough. If you are a sensitive person, if you are a person who really cares deeply, if you feel like the events of the world are buffeting you and exhausting you and depleting you, or even if you’ve got a story of maybe something that’s happened in your life that you’re, you’re ruminating on and you’re stuck in and you can’t figure out a way out of this book’s going to give you a lot of skills, a lot of insights, a lot of resources.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: to help you really be, uh, connected to yourself, see the bigger picture and really liberate yourself from being stuck in stories or stuck in suffering that maybe isn’t yours to carry anymore. So, Dr. Orloff, thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate your time and, uh, I really, as I said, my 15-year-old and I, we are enjoying this book, and it could not have come at a better time for us.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: So, thank you so much.

Dr. Judith Orloff: You’re very welcome.

[Outro to this episode, with Karen Curry Parker]

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: Martyrdom, by definition, is not sustainable. When we give all of ourselves to the point of depletion, we burn out. My dad used to say, how you do anything is how you do everything. In other words, how you show up for your life will be duplicated in every layer of your reality. Burned out people don’t make sustainable choices.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: And when you don’t make sustainable choices, you’re actually available to do less for the world. You can’t fulfill your mission or your purpose. You can’t sustain yourself to do those things that are yours to do. Dr. Orloff teaches that at times it’s okay to not be so available. To stay centered and decompress, you need to leave this world for a while and practice self-care, to give yourself that break.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: When being of service, consider each situation individually and always factor in your own energy level and physical and emotional limitations to assess how much you have available to give. These considerations don’t make you selfish. They make you smart. They make you sustainable. The world needs us all to activate our empathic genius so that we can connect our minds and hearts to embody our most authentic, fierce, and compassionate selves.

Dr. Karen Curry Parker: If you’d like to learn more about how to understand your energy and the way in which you feel and sense others, get your Quantum Human Design chart. If you’d like to learn more about how your Quantum Human Design chart can help you be more empathic and set better boundaries, visit I’m Dr. Karen Curry Parker. Thank you for joining the Quantum Revolution.

[Outro to the Quantum Revolution Podcast]

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