A while ago, I forced myself to participate in facebook discussions for a number of dubious reasons.
One was on boundaries and how empaths and empathic people don’t like to “put up walls” around themselves. Since there seems to be a lot of confusion around the topic, and I’m only coming to terms with it myself recently, I thought of sharing and further developing my thoughts on here.
Here’s the original facebook thought:
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Boundaries are not the same as walls (or shields, for that matter). it took me a long while to understand what “boundaries” means (being kind of a psychology term).
My understanding now is that having boundaries means simply knowing when you are ok with something and when you aren’t – when you can say “yes” and be fully comfortable with that choice (not cause discomfort or even hurt to yourself); when you can say “no” and not fear the other’s emotions or responses, knowing that you have the full right to say “no” when saying “yes” would make you feel uncomfortable (or tired, or overwhelmed, or hurt, or you simply choose not to say yes because you prefer to do something else).
What’s important is that you don’t think these up (in your head) – they come from being grounded in yourself and connected to yourself. how else can you know – really know, in a felt sense of certainty – what is ok and good for you, and what is too much?
Achieving this deep felt sense of being rooted in yourself goes together with developing a sense of worth, in a sense – of your own well-being being as important as anyone else’s, again not in an intellectual way, but in a simple, felt way (why should it be any other way?). from there, we can gradually develop an intuition for negotiating “boundaries” – meaning, saying “yes” and “no” in ways that are really rooted in our being and serve our well-being …
… rather than feeling compelled to always automatically say “yes”, having no other reflex, or fear of being a bad person (etc.) for saying no, as i think can be the case for many empaths.
It was certainly the case for me and i’m working on it. but seriously, even the smallest progress i’ve made on this has helped me immensely.
The truth is that you don’t end up feeling like you’re behind a wall when you set boundaries. rather, you start feeling much, much more safe and secure in yourself and in the world (because now you have the power, give yourself the power to say “no” to protect your self, comfort and energy) – and that makes connecting with others so much easier. not just because you have less fear of being “overrun”, used, overwritten, absorbed, etc., but also because you can feel yourself much better now as an individual with your own needs and preferences – and these are now also clearer to the outside. I find that people typically actually like that and find it easier to deal with than someone who always says “yes” but then becomes overwhelmed or secretly resentful.
There is just more clarity and a firmer ground to stand on.
These are my insights so far, more or less.
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Further, I’ve been working through Karla McLaren’s brilliant book “The language of emotions” in the last week, and that one has provided me with the most striking insights I’ve ever encountered on the function of (calm, constructive) anger in defining my self, identity, and proprioceptive and emotional territory through my felt sense.
I’m hoping to write on this soon.
There are layers and layers of complexity in this topic for people who are hyper-empathic, for those who are traumatised (even unspectacularly), and for those who believe they are psychic or near-psychic. I believe I’ve encountered walked through most of these layers (still in the process obviously).
For now, just this entry-level reflection for people who don’t like to put up walls.
Soon, reflections on what this about and on a boundary-less life.
Whether you identify as an empath, HSP, or not – have you encountered issues around defining yourself and where you begin and end?
Specifically for empaths, see this visual post.