Do you identify as a HSP or Empath? Do you often feel like you don’t know where “you end and others begin”? Or wonder why you feel so crummy after being with certain people? Have you been prone to burnout and nervous system overdrive? All of the above? No worries, you are in good company. Let’s start to embrace that sensitivity as a gift of energy refinement, and make some healthy adjustments to give you your energy and power back. One word. Boundaries.
What ARE these? I think many people think everyone has a similar understanding of “yes” and “no”, what’s “right” and “wrong”. This is just not the case. Everyone is unique, and our personal experiences as well as experiences of our families, communities, and cultures will make our boundary perspectives individual.
To begin, boundaries are where you end and another begins, and not just in the physical sense. Also imagine the energetic sense: how our thoughts, feelings, and words affect others and are affected by others. A common notion of boundaries seems to stem from the recovery group therapy model. The idea of “saying no” to what feels harmful to one’s self, as well as asking or giving consent. That’s a great place to begin, but boundaries are much more than saying no.
Boundary Contemplation Practice:
Noticing when you’re “migrating into someone else’s experience,” as yoga therapist Bo Forbes puts it. This is the essence of knowing our healthy boundaries. An example of noticing a migration might be feeling like something is off when you’re in conversation with someone or directly after. “Whatever is happening here (remain curious), I have a felt sense of someone controlling, gas-lighting, criticizing, blaming, or I cannot stop thinking about someone. I know I want to regain my center/remain in control of myself, etc.” Having that awareness can begin the neurological re-patterning of boundary. That is where we slow down and get clear on what actually is happening. A “check yourself before you wreck yourself” moment or two.
It’s not always super crisp in the experience of the boundary blurring. Oftentimes it is so hard wired and habitual. We really need a “check yourself” moment to not take on another’s energy/thoughts/feelings and change the pattern. You can ask yourself when triggered, “How do I feel in this moment?” “Is what I’m feeling “mine?” “If not mine, how can I differentiate what is mine and what is the other person’s right now?” When you are taking on another’s experience so deeply, and when you are fixating on another, the bottom line is there is an overwhelming sense of losing your own experience and lack of connection to self. This is disorienting, ungrounding, and throws anyone out of balance! It’s also not helpful to the other party!
When we lose our sense of boundaries, we are not fully present with ourselves momentarily or longer. If we become conscious of the pattern, we can change our energy through relaxation and disconnection from the energetic entanglement, as well as holding compassion for ourself and the other person. When we take responsibility of our boundaries, it helps the whole relationship.
Boundaries are a way of building your connection to your intuition, and knowing how to better take care of your needs. At first, this might be difficult, or upset some people who need to understand your boundaries. In the long run, with conscious awareness and healthy communication around it, it is better for the relationship and systemic dynamic to speak up about your experience. “Mindful conscious people are the most effective agents of change.” Judith Orloff.