An empath or highly sensing person (HSP) is more highly attuned to their environment than others. While this can lead to an empath or HSP feeling over-stimulated, anxious, and drained, this innate attunement can also lead to deep, meaningful connections. Because of this, maintaining healthy boundaries is exceptionally important for empaths and HSPs, as they allow for balance and the maximization of well-being in relationships with self and others.
First, a few words about setting healthy boundaries with other people…
We can care about others AND set healthy boundaries. Setting healthy boundaries is not about “rejecting” anyone. While we are responsible for how we choose to communicate with others, we are NOT responsible for other people’s feelings or responses to us. What is healthy, loving, and empowering for us is healthy, loving, and empowering for others as well, as it creates the opportunity for positive growth and change in relationships.
In order to set healthy boundaries, you must first have a sense of your own being, so that you can distinguish between self and other. To do this, I recommend the following:
Check in with yourself daily: when you have had a chance to be in your own energy for a while, such as when you wake-up in the morning, identify your baseline for the day physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Throughout the day check in with yourself and see how you are doing, and what the impact of your interactions has had on your baseline. Then you will start to determine who and what inspires, energizes, nurtures, and relaxes you, and who and what drains, diffuses, over-stimulates, and pulls you off center.
Know yourself: What are your likes and dislikes? What do you enjoy doing? Where do you enjoy being? Who and what fuels you, or depletes you? Prioritize connection with who and what contributes to your well-being in positive, healthy ways. These connections can be people, places, animals, things, practices, etc.
Knowing yourself gives you better ability to say yes to what is healthy for you and no to what isn’t.
Here are some ideas on ways to set healthy boundaries with others:
Imagine and feel your own sense of self and energy expanding to surround you. Own your power, and trust it to keep you feeling centered and safe.
Visualize and feel one or more of the following, or create your own:
A screen of light that filters energy during the interaction, allowing healthy energy in and keeping unhealthy energy out.
A light shield surrounding you to deflect and reduce the absorption of unhealthy energy and what is not yours to take on.
Take charge of your part in an interaction, so that patterns of “taking on stuff” from others are changed. This may involve some preparation ahead of time, such as coming up with what YOU would like to express during an interaction.
Use intentional language to create your own responses when setting healthy boundaries such as…
“I hear your point of view, and…(“I” statement about your own opinion, needs, etc.).”
“I think we see this differently.”
“I’m not comfortable having this discussion.”
“I need some time to think about ________ before I respond.”
“I am able to do ________ at this time.” “I am unable to do ________ at this time.”
“This sounds like something you could talk directly to ________ about.”
“It sounds like you have a lot going on. I believe in your ability to get through this.”
“No, thank you.”
Grant yourself space and excuse yourself from an interaction if it continues to feel unhealthy for you.
These are just a few ways to set healthy boundaries as an empath or HSP. Take the time to get to know yourself and your individual needs; increase positive, healthy interactions; and always support yourself with compassion throughout the process!
About the author:
Lauren Boulanger is a clinician here at The Holistic Heart. She also has experience as a licensed massage therapist, Reiki practitioner, and educator.
As an intuitive, empath, and truth-seeker, Lauren is passionate about bridging the spiritual and physical realms. She engages her love of learning, understanding, and making connections through reading, contemplation, and being with others who are also pursuing the paths of knowledge. Lauren believes that personal growth, change, healing, and overall well-being are directly connected with a deep understanding and authentic expression of one’s self on all levels of being.