Better boundaries is the key to better relationships, especially for highly empathetic people.
Love without respect is like eating white sugar. It is a toxic trip – an addiction that depletes all love.
Empaths tend to trust feelings more, making them overlook actions in favour of how someone makes them feel.
Empaths prefer to see the world from the heart, because their feelings are a strong part of their experience. They can trust feelings more than facts or actions. Narcissists can exploit the empaths need to heal everyone and make them feel better.
Most empaths have a natural ability to connect–which essential means the ability to lower an emotional boundary. Many of us are empathic, but empaths have a strong need and ability to connect with others—they are likely to cry watching a movie and tear up listening to your sad story. But Empaths also have the ability to cut through emotional lies, because their feelings will recognize other feelings.
Boundaries and Empathy
Does empathy make you say yes when you don’t want to?
There is a soft ‘no’ and there is a firm No. The question is can one be empathetic and say a firm No? what would that take?
A mutual boundary means the mature recognition of the fact that unconditional love is difficult to pull off and instead of driving each other crazy with expectations from each other, we can respect our separate selves.
Mastering empathy means keeping the heart open, but also being able to communicate a strong sense of personal boundary. The ability to say no and mean it is directly related to our self worth. Empathy is very powerful and something that powerful has to have lots of self worth behind it. Being nice and amenable is not empathy….it just means that we are afraid of offending others by doing what we want. It can also mean hiding how we truly feel in order to avoid conflict and confrontation. Whereas empathy has at its essential core, the courage to be seen.
The feeling of total loss of self can be part of an empathethic person’s life story—and they may relate times in their life when they lost them selves in depleting relationships, addictions, work etc. Empaths can fall in trance so bad that we can lose the tenuous connection to self—only to surface years later collapsed from taking on something that nearly destroyed us. The life lesson for all empaths is that we can’t no matter how hard we try to please someone, make someone love us, like us, be with us, understand us, keep our amazing connection alive or keep them with us. Being able to love, in its truest essence means letting go. For an empath it is hard, because their deep commitment to the greater good is a felt reality, making them revisit the past and wonder if they could have done something differently that would have made things okay. That maybe, it is their fault.
What are Boundaries?
Boundaries are mutually agreed limits in a healthy relationship. For example, “I can only call you on Sundays when my child is asleep.”
They may or may not be verbalized.
When the agreement about limits is not mutual, the power struggle begins and this power struggle can become toxic.
Boundaries change. A wife may be okay doing all the kitchen work for a while. But then after a kid or two, her expectations and needs will change. She wants more sleep, less mess and more fun. Now she wants to go to bed at 10, not stay up until 12 to watch a movie.
Boundaries may be lowered for people who have been exposed to:
- Domestic abuse, bullying, shaming and guilt. In narcissistic abuse, the abuser will make the other person feel as if they lack something essential for the other person’s happiness. A spouse or relative will feel inadequate (not good enough), powerless, helpless, stupid, ugly.
- Lack of personal space. Have you noticed how some people will not allow anybody else to talk about anything without interjecting their viewpoint and defend it by calling it a fact? They may talk down to everybody else. Well, it’s a relatively modern day equivalent of an attempt on your life so that you do not compete for food. When animals go to a watering hole, and the bigger animal wont let the small animal eat, it is done to make sure the big animal doesn’t have to share any food. If someone is exposed to bullying, they will have poor boundaries.
- Financial dependency. Women and children may be the most vulnerable when it comes to boundary invasion because of financial dependency. The facts are that if somebody else is paying for your life, they think they have a right to comment on your life. Financial independence is a tried and trusted path to better boundaries.
- Illness and poor mental health. People’s sense of self esteem and worthiness erodes when they feel weak. Illness can make people accept poor treatment. Poor mental health, anxiety, depression or other disorders can make a person share a lot of personal information.
Here are some tips to strengthen your boundaries
- Self reflection and mindfulness. Whether you journal or practice mindfulness, greater self awareness almost always leads to stronger boundaries. Most people don’t realize just how their boundaries are being challenged and toxic resentment builds up over time. But when we learn mindfulness or meditate, it creates a greater awareness of how we truly feel.
- Affirmations around self worth. Post print and paste, “Worthy”. The words I am are not even necessary.
- Breathe more mindfully. Breathing in a consistent pattern can mean greater calm. People who are calmer are less likely to say yes when they mean no!.
- Inhabit the body. One of my favourite techniques that I bring into my groups often is to close the eyes and notice where I am noticing myself from. If I feel that my presence is mostly around my head, I practice 10 slow deep breaths to bring most of my presence in the heart. When energy is more grounded it instantly sends a signal to back off. It is so subtle and so very effective.
- Challenge yourself to become empty to connect to the true self. Most of us have too much redundant stuff in the head. Closing your eyes, imagine everything you have going away. Let go of all your possessions, your room, your relationships. Then ask Who Am I now? The answer may shock you. The fact is that most of us cling to a false idea of who we are—because of our attachments. When we practice letting go of our attachments, we strengthen who we are. Our boundaries therefore become more solid.
- Energy bubble technique. Draw an energy bubble around you, either with your imagination or stand against a wall and draw it using a chalk. The space inside your extended arm is you. The space immediately outside is other people. If you struggle with boundaries, it helps to repeat this until your boundary is an automatic knowing.
Examples of boundaries with varying degrees of empathy
-There is me, there is you. There is a shared space where we are one. We meet here. Then we let go. I am me, you are you. (empathy is a core value)
-There is me and you. I need you, you need me. I pull your string, you pull mine. We keep testing the relationship. (empathy is not mutually valued, there is a power struggle)
-You are mine. You must give me what I want. I will give to you when I want (narcissistic and controlling, no empathy)
-There is me, you and a bunch of other people we affect. When you give me what I want, I give you what you want and everybody benefits. (negotiated agreement to work together, low empathy)
by Seren Dipity
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