As we grow, change and evolve, so do our concepts of boundaries. Shame, vulnerability and wholeheartedness researcher Brene Brown states beautifully ‘boundaries are the most loving thing you can give to someone.’ They actually help us define who we are at this moment in time and create the framework for what we allow in our world.
Boundaries are defining edges—yes, go here, no, don’t go here. They are limits and they define space. Some are spoken, however, many are not. For empaths, boundaries are often hazy at best, similar to translucent, misty, gradual places between one being and another. For empaths, edges between one thing and another are often not solid and well defined. This is, in part, a gift of being an empath.
An empath is someone who literally feels the world around them…feelings, thoughts, and sensations, literally in their own body. We feel into layers of Being. We know beyond what is said.
We are open. We hear noises, feel sounds, absorb light, feel/hear/see blocks and openings in others. If you’ve ever seen Man of Steel (the more recent Superman movie), there is a scene where Clark is a young boy in the classroom. In this moment, everything is magnified—the sound of the clock, the heartbeat of his classmates, the view into their physical bodies, everything—and it overwhelms him. He runs into the closet and locks the door. His mother comes to school and helps him find something to focus on to reduce the barrage of stimulation. This is very similar to what it’s like being an empath. And it can be hard to find a focus, simply because boundaries between one thing and another are so thin.
As humans, we’re used to having a single, laser-like focusing ability to create what we want in our world. But now, things are shifting. This laser focus is widening to allow us to move into different ways of Being and creating and can cause challenges for the empath and their relationship to boundaries. It can be especially challenging for those working in the world of healing and well being. We are designed to help other people feel better, to find their birthright of well being. We do it everywhere we go. We notice the person not quite in sync with their world and we instinctively see them. They light up for us, and perhaps we even reach out to them—either energetically or physically. We actually do this on one level to make ourselves feel better. We most likely have already picked up a piece of their discordant energy (it’s our nature) and we feel it on some level in our own Being. We find a way to harmonize this discordant energy, or it begins to weigh on us and take us off center.
Empaths have unique challenges in this world. When we understand and utilize boundaries, we find ways to stay true to our nature and use our gifts without draining or disorienting ourselves.
Here are three tips to begin practicing as our world continues to shift.
1. Awareness of our own edges. We have to be aware of where our own energy is Right Now! (even if we were able to be a little bit sloppy or casual about this in the past.) We have to pause and give ourselves a moment to consciously think about where we are in this moment as we go out into the world: Are we in process with something? Is our own energy chaotic? Are we centered? Are we confident, fragile or insecure? How wide, open and intimate do we want our energy in this environment? A short time ago, we could get away with not being conscious of what aspect of ourselves was more in the foreground—driving the bus, so to speak. We could do something like go to a neighborhood market with little or no challenge, simply because it was familiar. These days, a pause and awareness of what energy we are bringing to a situation is paramount. Awareness is the first step—who are we at this moment in time?
2. Ensure our connection to Self. In yoga we often talk about the little ‘s’ self and the big ‘S’ self. The little s is our everyday, human, ego-informed, earth based reality. It is an extremely valid aspect and one to be embraced and respected. The concept of getting rid of our ego is a carry over belief from another time. Yes, the ego can present challenges.
Yet, if we work with integrating our ego into our big ‘S’ self instead of exiling it, then we’ve got something really amazing to work with.The big ‘S’ self is our soul, higher self, or wider-knowing self.
When we pause, we have a moment to connect with that place in and around us that is always working with, guiding and informing us of a larger perspective—our Soul, Spirit or Non-physical part of us. There are layers here, but we are looking for that wide connection to our Self that is the unconditional loving observer. The part of us is not in the swirl of life, but is almost a step or degree removed from the action. This concept of Self (you could call it Soul or any other word that makes sense to you) is really interesting because it is in us, and at the same time, it is around us. One way to get in touch with it is to notice where you connect with this Wise Observer part of you. Is it inside or outside of your physical body? Remember, it’s both, but for familiarity, it’s helpful to discern where we notice this each time we make a conscious effort to connect to this aspect of our Self…and become familiar with the nuances of this relationship.
The moment we connect to our big ‘S’ self, we set our energy in a more defined way. We are instantly more than we were the moment before. Our energy shifts. Our big S self is more clear and has a wider view. When we connect to it, our own edges instantly change. We become more organized and integrated. Our energy becomes more contained and defined (even though it’s actually a bit wider than it was the moment before).
One of the most helpful pieces of this is that our energy becomes more clear and ‘on purpose.’ It is a form of center, and when we get in touch with our center, we have a better view of our edges.
It’s a matter of where we are looking and experiencing the world from. It makes a difference. In this instant, we are defining who we are in relation to the world.
3. Define who we are in the moment. What hat are we wearing as we step out into the world? This is related to #1, but it goes beyond awareness and sets intention. If we’re teaching or facilitating, we have boundaries that would be different than if we are meeting friends. In these new times, these new energies if you will, it is still helpful to take a moment and at the very least define where your physical edges are—How open are you? When you feel into your physical body, are you bigger or smaller than your skin? Are we as big and centered as we wish? This discernment is best done in conjunction and communication with our big S self. This is also the place where, as empaths, we ‘feel into’ the situation we will be stepping into. We energetically or imaginally step into the space before we physically step in. This requires another pause. We have to wait and feel for the response. After we ‘feel in’, we can re-evaluate our own edges of our energy. Are we too close in? Too wide? What would be the just right amount of openness in this situation?
When we take these moments at the beginning of our interactions, we actually save a ton of time and energy. We become streamlined and suited for the situation. When we don’t take the time, we have the possibility of entering too open or too closed, and our emotional bodies will have to work that out on the other side. It’s much more pleasant to take the time beforehand.
In essence, this three step approach actually asks us to be in touch with our wider, big ‘S’ self a lot more than before. The world is shifting. Energy is chaotic. Veils are thinning, both in people and cosmically. People that could ignore their shadow or messy sides just months ago, no longer have that ability. All this chaotic, unresolved energy is coming to the surface to be harmonized. It is a ton of discordant energy which has the potential to shake up our own energy, but not so much if we get aligned, harmonized, clear in our own selves. When we’re aligned, we might have a piece or two (a note or two if we’re going to the musical analogy) that ripples through our field, but if our aligned, harmonized self is clear and integrated, we will naturally pull the discordant energy into harmony. As we do this, we create a much more beautiful world around us, simply by Being who we are.