When Caring Too Much Causes Illness

While much of the regret we harbor inside comes from our own actions (infidelities we’ve had, accidents we’ve caused, debt we’ve gotten ourselves into) as well as from those important things in life we failed to do (opportunities unexplored, love not shared, forgiveness unspoken, once-in-a-lifetime events not attended), sometimes regret stems from something that has nothing to do with us. Something we have absolutely no control over or say in. Sometimes regret—those feelings of grief, sorrow, and remorse—come from our exposure to the world’s innumerable tragedies and devastations.

We all feel how small the world has become through the advances in technology. With a mere click of the mouse or remote control, the whole world comes into our lives and living rooms. On a daily basis, many of us witness unimaginable violence and suffering. Kidnappings, murders, suicides. Genocide, terrorism. Natural disasters that leave millions in their wake. Public figures coming to tragic ends as they lose battles with drug addiction or disease. And, of course, a national and global economy on the brink of depression. The daily news provides no shortage of things to feel empathy for, and for those who continually tune in with an open heart, this constant negative input eventually takes its toll on their psyche and physical health.

The mind-body connection dictates that what enters our consciousness also enters the rest of our being. When we take in the energy from the outside world, and attach to it emotions such as sorrow and remorse, that energy has to go somewhere. Unless we release it, which few know how to do, it goes into our body, where it blocks our energy field, causing stagnation and, ultimately, a physical or mental disease condition. I hear this complaint all the time at my energy healing workshops. I see the havoc too much empathy is having on people’s lives.

At a recent seminar, for example, 20-year-old Mandy joined me on the stage, complaining of recurring bladder infections. Talking with her, I learned that she was a passionate, empathetic young woman who worked for an animal rescue while attending school part-time. Her frequent health problems kept her from work at times, and she regretted that she was not able to devote more of herself to saving the plethora of homeless animals.

Mandy is clearly a person who feels deeply. Not only does she advocate for the animals at the shelter, but she also went to Louisiana after the Gulf oil disaster to help with the devastation that happened to people and animals there. As we talked about her terrible regret over the devastation to the Gulf and the wildlife that make it their home, the picture of her health became clear.

In Mandy’s energy field I picked up a great deal of bitterness, the result of frustration about all the animals she felt powerless to help. This unprocessed bitterness was the cause of her bladder problems. While her heart was in the right place—she wanted to do her part to alleviate the suffering in the world—she wasn’t aware that she was allowing her need to help overpower her ability to help, leaving her feeling frustrated and bitter.

Many people, like Mandy, feel that selflessness is the only way to be a “good” person, that anything less is narcissistic or self-centered. I adamantly disagree. I see all the time the kind of toll this takes in people who come to me for help; it’s in their energy fields and in the various dysfunctions of their life, including emotional pain and, for some, like Mandy, illness of the body.

Please don’t get me wrong, empathy and compassion are high virtues. Of course they are. They are the reason I do the teaching, speaking, and energy healing work I myself do. They stir us to alleviate suffering and to uplift others where we can. But we all have to know the point at which it becomes too much to handle. Where the wise adage of “Moderation in all things” has gone out the window. When we give too much of ourselves, taking us off kilter, it doesn’t do anyone any good. As we’ve seen, getting bogged down in the tragedies of others, distorts our energy centers, or chakras, blocks our healthy energy flow, and lowers our own vibration to the point of disempowering us and making us susceptible to dysfunction and disease.

So, what can you do if you’ve already depleted yourself to the point of anger and resentment, disempowerment, and/or illness? The following simple steps can help pull you out of a regretful state and reverse any blockage accumulating in your energetic, emotional, and physical systems. They are powerful tools for self-healing that bring emotional pain relief as well as act as energy healing to the body:

  1. Take time for yourself. This was the first thing I recommended to Mandy, who wasn’t doing any of the things a girl her age would normally do. We all need time for ourselves, time to just be—to relax, unwind, socialize, play. We need time to enjoy being alive without an agenda of getting something done. Otherwise, life tramples our boundaries and some of our essential needs go unmet. Talk about the perfect recipe for anger and resentment! You’ll see this all the time in the healing professions, where people give, give, give and never get in return. They become overwhelmed with anger and resentment, which, of course, only adds to the toxic energy buildup in their energy fields and bodies that then manifests as disease. It also detracts from the quality of service they have to give. Bottom line: Before we can give to others, we need to first fill our own wells.
  2. Tune out some of the negative and tune in more to joy. Go on a “news diet,” cutting down on the amount of death and destruction you take in and adding in its place something lighter, like play. While it’s important to know what’s going on in the world (which you can do, by the way, by skimming Internet news sites for about two minutes), you don’t have to witness every replay of the World Trade Center crumbling or every dying bird in the Gulf. Instead, add to your day some laughter and joy. I watch one rerun of Seinfeld every night an hour before going to sleep to get my laughter quota and to take a few minutes to relax my mind. You’d be amazed at what a powerfully renewing “therapy” this is.
  3. Uplift the planet by raising your own consciousness. Instead of trying to rescue the world in person, which will eventually deplete you, try uplifting the world by raising your consciousness. The easiest ways to do this, which you know about already if you have read my spiritual self-help book Truth Heals, are through journaling, meditation, and prayer. Writing in a journal helps you clear out your emotions on a daily basis. It’s great emotional hygiene! When I first began journaling to heal myself of cancer, I took a notepad around with me and jotted down every emotion I had, as often as I had them. I wrote it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly—anger, jealousy, resentment, you name it. When journaling, nothing is off limits. In fact, the uglier the better, as you need to get those toxic emotions out, to keep them from building up and creating energy blocks that can ultimately cause disease.

Meditation and prayer expand our consciousness and allow us to connect to and communicate with a higher source. As we begin vibrating at a higher frequency, we lift others up—just by our presence. Think of meditation as simply connecting your consciousness to the unified field for a certain period of time, where your consciousness sends out ripples into the vast ocean of consciousness, ever expanding at a higher level. Prayer, especially when it takes the form of gratitude for the perfection that lies just outside our human view (for example, visualizing the Gulf in all of its former glory) can also create the very state we desire. Certainly more productive than wallowing in helplessness and overwhelm, this can also do more for healing the situation than traveling to the disaster site to lend physical support, which may be unrealistic for many. From my own remission from cancer, plus years of training and working with people around the world, I know for a fact that journaling, meditation, and prayer have a tremendous, tangible power to heal.

  1. Redefine what it means to be of service. Many of us think that being of service needs to be grand, and so we give more than we can afford. Usually, this giving is out of a need for approval and acceptance. Deep inside, we don’t feel we are enough, and so we compensate. We’re so desperate for approval that we lose all sense of our boundaries and self-care. But being of service is really just about love. It’s the “chop wood, carry water” instruction from the famous Zen proverb: Take what nature has given you, just be exactly where you are, and do what you do with an attitude of love. Elevate others; mean them well. Intend them happiness and health. When you align your actions with those intentions, you’ll be of service to everyone you meet. And, don’t forget to include yourself in those you care for!

These few changes can dramatically improve your emotional health as well as the state of your body. The love, care, and service you give needs to be from a balanced and filled place.

One final cautionary word about empathy for all the aspiring healers out there: We all do empathic healing naturally, mostly with our family members and pets—where we take their pain and illness into our own energy fields and bodies to “process.” One of the first things I teach someone who wants to become a healer is how not to do that! That’s because empathic healing requires you to take in another’s negative energy through your own body in order to move it out of them; fine on occasion, but not as a daily practice. For more information about becoming certified as a healer in my 21st Century Energy Medicine Program, visit


Personal Daily Writing #1 Truth Tool – Journaling

You’ve probably heard the saying, “the truth will set you free,” but did you ever wonder why? Or how? If you’ve read my first book, Truth Heals, you already have a pretty good idea.

Whenever life gets too tough, too threatening – when we experience an emotional or physical trauma of some kind – we may feel we “can’t handle the truth” and so we try to deny it. We send the truth – the facts about what is happening, as well as what we think and feel about it – underground, burying it deep inside us, where we think we don’t have to deal with it. Then we might distract ourselves with something less scary, or even overwrite the facts with lies that are easier to cope with.

Well, if you’ve read Truth Heals, you also know that this “out of sight, out of mind,” deny-and-dissociate strategy doesn’t work, at least not for long. That’s because the truth is a mighty force, a powerful energy that is and always will be. Like everything else in our universe, it exists in physical reality even if we can’t see it with our eyes. Therefore, it can’t just be wished away, any more than gravity can. Dealing with the truth in a healthy way requires processing it. The energy needs to be moved out of the body and released.

If this doesn’t happen – if the truth about what happened to us and what we think and feel about it is not acknowledged and spoken by the conscious mind – it will eventually pop back up, like a beach ball under water, grabbing our attention in some unpredictable ways. Emotional pain, abusive relationships, financial problems, accidents, health scares and conditions, stress symptoms of all kinds – under almost any disturbance is a truth waiting to be set free.

I discovered this reality when, at age 25, I wound up with cancer. I’d already had plenty of other warning signs and wake-up calls – drug and alcohol addictions, promiscuity, an eating disorder – but I didn’t pay heed. Cancer finally got my attention. When it did, I sincerely wanted to heal.

To my surprise, one of the simplest tools I found in my search for healing – writing in a personal journal – turned out to be one of the most powerful. Journal writing gave voice (expression and movement) to my truth of an extremely traumatic childhood wrought with sexual and emotional abuse. Journaling gave the benefit of processing out that old toxic energy that was stored inside me and had been wreaking such havoc on my life. Giving voice to it ultimately led me to becoming cancer free, addiction free, and to letting go of all the other lies I had been living.

We all have truths buried inside. Too often in childhood we are taught by our parents or society that feelings are bad and shouldn’t be felt, let alone expressed. Stuffing our emotions is the cultural norm. Yet in order to have a fulfilling life, complete with healthy relationships, we have to have our feelings. We have to experience them and then let them go. In essence, to be truly healthy and happy, we have to live in truth. Journal writing can help us do that.

There aren’t many rules to follow to gain the benefits of writing in a personal daily journal. Here are a few guidelines for getting the most out of it:

  • Do it daily. Like brushing your teeth, create a habit that helps to ensure good emotional hygiene.
  • Use pencil and paper OR keyboard and computer. They are both equally effective. The desired stream of consciousness can come about merely by using your hands to communicate.
  • Be honest. Practice rigorous honesty about your feelings, no matter how petty, jealous, hateful, or anything else they may sound. It’s time to honor your feelings and this is the place to do it. Don’t hold anything back.
  • Don’t edit, spell-check, or judge your writing. That’s not the exercise here. This isn’t school and you’re not being graded. We’re doing something far more important for your well-being and that requires letting the thoughts and feelings flow – uninterrupted.
  • Keep your journal safe. This means keeping it in a safe place where no one else will see it. To be uninhibited in your journal writing, you need to know that it won’t be subject to scrutiny by others.
  • Share only if you want to. If there is a trusted loved one with whom you want to share your writing, by all means do it. Having another person hear your truth and then give you unconditional acceptance will further your processing the energy out.
  • Be committed to the truth. Use your journal as a self-healing tool for your personal growth, self-improvement, emotional health, and physical well-being. Remember, the truth will set you free!

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Recalling the Ancient World – “Avatar”

I love going to movies, and I recently saw one I think should be nominated for Best Picture! “Avatar” was written and directed by James Cameron, who spent a decade developing the technical wizardry that’s so evident in this film. But along with the amazing high tech (especially when you see it in 3-D) is the fantastic spiritual connection his characters portray in their world of Pandora. Here, the Na’vi clan of Pandora has a highly developed culture, with rituals that embrace unity consciousness.

In the Hindu world, the word “avatar” indicates the highest embodiment of spiritual consciousness. James Cameron has done a fine job of suffusing his movie with an awareness of the Unified Field. Read my review of the movie on the Huffington Post at


Domestic Violence: Breaking Free

I just finished writing a piece on Domestic Violence; you can read more about domestic violence abuse in the resources section. I get really triggered just writing about this topic. It seems like everywhere I turn, I find more cases of Domestic Violence, not less. Recently, we’ve been focused on MacKenzie Phillips and Roman Polanski – talk about violence. Last week, I worked with hundreds of individual women at ISpa, a high end conference for the spa industry, where one would NOT expect to find victims of violence. The first day, I worked with a lovely woman in an executive position who had been badly beaten by her boyfriend – he had broken her nose.  So don’t assume that you’re safe because your partner is college educated and has a job. Domestic Violence does not discriminate; it affects us all.

Please share your stories here. We can only be safe when we refuse to be silenced.


Nail Biting … Self Mutilation or Stress-Relieving Habit?

I bet you’ve never heard of chronic onychophagia, even though you may have indulged in it yourself. The name you do know for this common stress-relieving habit is nail biting. More than half of all toddlers, a third of young children, over 40% of adolescents, and 19-29% of young adults do it. By the time you’re an older adult, that number has gone down to 5%. It’s also more common, for some reason, in intellectuals.

Why are so many kids and teens busily chomping away at their fingernails when they are nervous, stressed, or bored? Well, they’re always at hand, so to speak. From the moment of our birth, we’re geared to put things in our mouth; it gives us a feeling of satisfaction, of being nurtured. If food isn’t available, then our own hands and nails become a substitute. Boys are more likely than girls to continue nail biting into their teens and beyond, especially since they are less likely to be concerned about manicures and nail polish.
Nail biting, if it’s severe enough to cause bleeding or painful finger traumas, can be described as an act of self-mutilation and may require outside help. But most of the time, it’s a basically harmless habit, although it can transfer germs buried under the surface of the nail into the mouth. Many nail biters get frustrated by the habit or ashamed of themselves for not stopping. If you want to stop, first try these two simple remedies:

  1. Buy a lot of cheap nail files and put them around wherever you work or play. Since people rarely bite or pick at nails that have smooth edges, grab a handy file and sand down any rough spots right away.
  2. Get the awful tasting nail polish available at most drugstores. The stuff leaves a horrible taste in your mouth whenever you bite a nail.

If your nail biting is related to anxiety, the best way to stop the habit is by learning some stress relief or relaxation techniques. For example, instead of chomping on a nail, occupy your hands in another way: do some yoga poses, play a musical instrument, take up knitting. You can also learn to release anxiety through meditation, visualization, or breathing techniques. There are some very good relaxation tapes available as well.


“Truth” with an Agenda

When public figures straight out lie to us, and then use lame excuses to justify it – throwing around the phrases “deeply regret” and “profoundly sorry” like candy from a parade float – do they really expect us to believe them, or in them? Ted Haggard messed up – not because of his sexual orientation – and we could have understood had we been told the truth. Instead, excuses, half truths, and more lies cover what could have been a stunning moment of clarity for him and a huge step on his path to self improvement and redemption. His most recent version of “truth” is a desperate attempt to regain power and status, not peace. See my blogs on the Huffington Post and Psychology Today

for more on this and other stories.

Posted January 30, 2009 | 01:01 PM (EST)
Just how honest has Ted Haggard been with himself and the media as he tries to repair his public image? He’s been on a number of TV shows to coincide with the debut of the HBO documentary called “The Trials of Ted Haggard.” I’d give him a C- for effort…. Read Post


What Are You Hiding?

Are we even surprised at lying anymore? It takes something extreme to raise our ire – we live in a culture that specializes in convenient truths, and only when something becomes blatant do we respond. What happens in the macrocosm of our society mirrors our mind body connection. We live our own convenient truths, many times burying that which we do not want to deal with. We deny, deny, deny – as adeptly as any politician. You can lie to your friends, family, coworkers, and even in front of a packed Congressional hearing; but you cannot lie to your body. For a dose of truth, check out my blog on Psychology Today.

By Deborah King on January 29, 2009 – 1:31pm in Psychology Today
When you’re sitting at home on your couch watching Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich look straight at an interviewer and swear he did nothing wrong, do you have the urge to stand up and shout: How can you lie like that on national TV!? Read More


But They’ll Ruin Marriage!

I could argue about gay marriage until my face turns blue -how sexual orientation is but one part of someone’s identity, how Jesus doesn’t care about whom we love, but that we love. I hope what I say sticks, but if someone were to argue with me till he was blue in the face that gays are evil, worthless, etc…it wouldn’t change my mind. Where does that leave us with gay marriage? It boils down to one thing: civil liberties. We pride ourselves on being the Land of the Free, so we must include everyone in that freedom. Marriage is a basic civil right. If you can’t see allowing gay marriage out of misguided “morals,” why not out of a belief that our country should treat everyone equally? More on this issue and the fear holding gay marriage legislation back on my blog on the Huffington Post.

Posted June 16, 2008 | 09:29 AM (EST)
The weddings start this week in California as gay marriage becomes legal. West Hollywood is thrilled; Bakersfield is not. While others cities and towns across California are preparing to boost their economies through wedding services for same-sex couples, Kern County Clerk Ann Barnett decided to stop performing all weddings after… Read Post


Making Contact

Making Contact

April 5, 2007

Loneliness and isolation seem almost endemic in the electronic age. We e-mail our friends for the sake of expedience instead of calling them on the phone. We send a text message to our children to find out when to expect them home. We settle for voicemail when we can’t reach a colleague or associate; why, we can even plan an entire client presentation without ever looking in our business partner’s eye. But at what price do we rely on all this electronic wizardry? What are we missing when we do what is expedient rather than what makes a real connection with another by putting us in verbal if not visual and physical contact?

Actual contact with another living, breathing being is known to heal. A pair of premature twins was placed in separate incubators, much to the chagrin of one highly intuitive nurse. One of the twins was not expected to survive. The nurse broke hospital rules and placed the babies side by side in one incubator. The healthier of the two preemies threw an arm over the other. Shortly thereafter, the smaller infant’s heart rate stabilized and her temperature rose to normal.

At the most basic level, we are designed to fall into synch or resonance with another. Some half century ago, a biology student extracted a cell from a live rodent’s heart and put it in solution to view it through a microscope. The single cell pulsed for a while and then fibrillated before it expired. Then two live heart cells were put on the slide and once one began to fibrillate they were moved closer together. The death spasm ceased and the two cells began pulsing together like a microscopic heart.

If your twin or matching heart cell is not around, a dog will do. Research has shown conclusively that pet ownership has many health benefits, from lowered blood pressure and increased immunity to helping troubled teens learn basic empathy. Dog owners live longer, and fare better after heart surgery. Pets love us no matter what. They provide companionship and unconditional love. In one study, having a pet affected patients’ survival rates even more than having a spouse or friends. Pet owners are known to have fewer visits to the doctor. Owning a pet can relieve loneliness, fight depression, and help us cope with stress.

Some old wives tales and common sayings turn out to be scientifically verifiable and based on fact: two really is better than one, and dog really is a man or woman’s best friend.



Jim McGreevey on Larry King Live

October 10, 2006

I recently saw Jim McGreevey, the former Governor of New Jersey, on Larry King Live and was impressed by what a difference the truth has made in his life.

McGreevey stunned the media last year when he announced that he was gay and was resigning from office. He’s now telling all—about his relationship with his gay lover, leaving his wife, and the end of his gubernatorial career—in a new book called The Confession, currently at the top of the best seller lists.

What I found so interesting about McGreevey’s appearance is how happy he seems. He radiates a profound inner contentment because he has finally come to terms with the truth in his own life. During the program, he told Larry he is at peace now that he has finally revealed he is gay. He had thought his political career was the most important thing in his life—and had done whatever it took to protect it. In the process, he not only hurt his wife and family, but made himself miserable. When the truth that he was gay could no longer be denied, at first it brought great chaos to his life. But in time, he found a way to a new life of honesty.

McGreevey’s story mirrors what I see in my practice. Sometimes the fear of the truth is so overpowering that we go to extreme lengths to nurture and foster the lie. We protect the lie, at great expense to ourselves. But facing our own truth allows us to live the life we were always meant to live.

The truth healed Jim McGreevey. I believe it can heal anyone who is willing to acknowledge it.