“We make it especially hard for others to observe our trait because we are so responsive to our environments that we can be something like chameleons when around others, doing whatever it takes to fit in.
- Elaine N. Aron
Setting boundaries as an Empath is vital for your mental, emotional, and spiritual health. If you’re an Empath, you may find you are easily overwhelmed by your internal and external environments. This can often leave you feeling depleted and exhausted of energy. While I wholeheartedly believe being an Empath is a wonderful and beautiful gift, it does come with some challenges and one particular challenge is, setting boundaries.
One of the core characteristics of an Empath is, well, empathy for others. They can often sense someone’s emotions and pick up on subtle changes in tone of voice or body language indicating displeasure or upset. In order for an Empath to avoid upsetting others, they tend to people please and accommodate requests despite being too tired or overwhelmed. They say “yes” to things when they really want to say “no.” Operating this way, however, results in leaving an Empath feeling resentful, frustrated, and sometimes angry.
Setting boundaries as an Empath is an important component of self-care in order to avoid mental burnout and emotional exhaustion. Boundary setting can create many benefits, including the well-being of your mind, your heart, and your physical health.
When you start saying, “no” to what doesn’t serve you, and “yes!” to all that does, you will find that your level of confidence and self-esteem also increases.
Learn To Say No
NO. This simple two letter word can be quite daunting and stressful to say to someone. This is because we have often been met with guilt and poor reactions. In order for an Empath to avoid confrontation and conflict, they appease others and do things they desperately don’t want to do. Then, the resistance and resentment sinks in, and they are left feeling upset and disrespected. Maybe even take advantage of.
Here’s something you need to know. When someone asks you to do something and you say no, they move on to the next person. When you honour and respect your own needs, people will respect you too. And if they don’t then they surely don’t deserve your time and energy.
Learn to say no and express what you really want without the need to justify or explain yourself. If something doesn’t align with your energy or if it doesn’t serve you, that’s okay. Say no as often and as many times as you need to.
Affirmation: Setting boundaries is a normal part of my every day life.
Get Super Clear
You can’t set boundaries if you’re unsure of your own needs and desires. The key is to get super clear on what feels right for you, and what feels wrong for you. How do you want to be spoken to? How do you want to be treated? What makes you uncomfortable, stressed, or anxious? These feelings will help you establish what your own personal limits are.
Start by making a list of your core values and what’s important to you. Write down how you want to be treated, and from there, any time your values and boundaries aren’t being respected, you can communicate with more clarity and confidence.
When setting boundaries as an Empath, you want to be crystal clear on anything that isn’t aligned with you so you can stay grounded and balanced in your energy. Keep in mind that we teach people how to treat us. Consciously choose what you will and will not tolerate from this moment on.
Affirmation: I can respect the feelings of others and still honour my own.
Give Yourself Permission
Guilt, fear, and, self-doubt can often prevent a person from standing up for themselves. As an Empath, you probably worry about how others will react and respond to your own wants and needs. This is one of the biggest things that stops someone from setting boundaries and receiving the respect they deserve.
One thing that helps me personally, is the act of giving myself permission to do what I need to do and say what I need to say. Because we usually wait for permission from someone to tell us it’s okay to speak up. It’s vital to understand that it’s solely up to us to directly communicate our needs because only we know what we need.
Give yourself permission to set healthy boundaries and know that you're not responsible for other people's emotions and you're not responsible for how they react. You are only responsible for your own actions and reactions.
Affirmation: I give myself permission to stand up for my own wants, needs, and desires.
Tune Into Your Intuition
What is your intuition telling you? What is your energy saying to you? Your instincts and intuition can help determine when someone is violating or disrespecting your boundaries. It’s also an indication to let you know when you need to set boundaries.
When you find yourself in a situation that doesn’t feel good, tune into your intuition, check in with your body, and reflect on how you’re feeling. Are you anxious or uncomfortable? Is your heart rate up or do you feel a tightness in your chest?
These are some of the many ways your body is communicating a message to you. Ask yourself what part of the experience and encounter made you respond the way you did and self inquire whether or not you need to set some important boundaries, and what those boundaries will be.
Affirmation: I honour myself and I listen and trust my own intuition.
Make Self Care A Priority
We hear a lot about self-care, but how does it relate to boundary setting? Simple. If you aren’t caring for yourself, and respecting your own needs, you can’t expect others to respect those needs. It’s vital as an Empath to make your self-care a priority and remain pro-active in your own health and wellness. As a result of your self-care practices, you will feel more empowered, balanced, and grounded, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. You will eventually come to a point where you will never allow others to mistreat or disrespect you. You just won’t have the tolerance for it.
Putting yourself first and nurturing your own needs will help you build inner strength and resolve. Just remember: setting boundaries as an Empath isn’t selfish, it’s an act of self-love. When you say “no” to others, you are saying “YES” to yourself. Take care of you first and honour your self worth, as you value yourself, others will naturally value you too.
Affirmation: Each and every day I respect and honour what my heart guides me to do.
Ask If It's Yours
Empaths have the tendency to take on the energy and emotions of others, unconsciously, and even consciously at times. This is why crowded malls and public places can completely throw off an Empath’s energy. I will be totally off balance, dizzy, and even nauseous in big box stores like Walmart and Costco. The fluorescent lighting, the rush of everyone shopping, the “negative” energy of others, and just the busyness of everything can make me feel physically ill. As Empaths, and being highly sensitive to our surroundings, we can take on the energy of others and carry it with us even after we’ve left the space.
One of the energy tools I like to teach my clients when working on setting boundaries, is asking yourself, “is this mine?” And then listening for your intelligent body to answer. If you hear, no, then say, “I consciously choose to release what isn’t mine.” Repeat this statement until you feel the energy dissipate and the heaviness leave your body. It’s a simple, yet extremely powerful tool.
Affirmation: It’s safe for me to protect my mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Start Off Small
Like any new skill, expressing and communicating your boundaries takes practice and patience. Start off by setting a “small boundary” that doesn’t scare you or make you feel overly uncomfortable. Maybe it’s telling your clients that you’re only available between certain hours. Maybe it’s turning down an invite from a friend or family member. Or perhaps it’s declining a favour someone asks of you that you may later resent doing.
When you start off small, you build the boundary muscle and eventually you become stronger the more you exercise and build this muscle. The more you say “no” to what doesn’t serve you, the more aligned you become with your values and your truth.
In order for an Empath to remain centred and balanced in their energy, they need to set important boundaries for the sake of their mental health and their spiritual wellness.
Affirmation: I am worthy of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries that feel good and right for me.
♡ With love, Vanessa
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Vanessa Marie Dewsbury is an internationally known Reiki Master, Self Love & Spiritual Teacher, and Bestselling Author. She is also an advocate for Mind & Body Wellness. You can find her on Instagram at @soulalivebarrie
Vanessa has been a guest on well-known radio shows and podcasts and has appeared in news articles acknowledging her work in the spiritual and personal development community.
Her acquired wisdom through her own life experiences and health issues combined with her training and certifications in various modalities allows her to offer powerful guidance as well as the vital tools required to enhance and promote inner-healing, personal growth, and self love.
Vanessa Marie Dewsbury