I’ve spent years healing boundary issues and it is a process that still continues today. For us empaths, understanding where one person begins and another ends can be challenging and difficult. I have always felt everything that everyone around me was feeling and until I learned how to manage my energy body, it was incredibly confusing and overwhelming. Unless I am in session with a client (where my empathic skills are a true gift), I have had to learn to intentionally not take on others’ stuff. This keeps me from burning out and allows me to be open and bright instead of numbed out and shut down, something that I felt the need to be for years.  Alcohol and drugs are not an option for me anymore, and I’d rather not numb out in other ways either, such as with sugar or distractions.

As I said, I am still sorting through the many nuances of boundaries. I am also striving to find a way to experience more intimacy with others. At first glance, these two things feel at odds with one another. How can we continue to open our hearts while simultaneously keeping ourselves detached from the “stuff” of others?

It’s all come together for me within the context of fluid boundaries. With fluid boundaries, it is necessary to learn how to tune into yourself and to trust what comes up. It’s simple, but it takes a little practice.

Start by taking a little time each day to get attuned to your body and how it communicates with you. Focus on your breathing (from the stomach allow your belly to rise with the in-breath and fall with the out). From there, notice yourself really in your body. If you find yourself thinking, questioning or analyzing, allow your attention to drop down into either your heart or tummy. Really feel yourself fall into this space. When your mind becomes inactive, there will be a sense of melting into whichever spot you chose.

Next, just pay attention to your body. Notice where it is calling to you, any discomfort and any open space.  Just let your body share itself with you. After your scan, ask it questions and see how the responses feel to you. If you want to know about how a person is for you, focus on him or her and then set the intention that your body show you how it senses the energy of that person. Do you feel tightness in your chest? How does your stomach feel? Are you smiling or frowning? Maybe you feel lightness or heaviness. Maybe a sound even escapes you. Practice this skill as often as you can. Get to know and trust what your body is telling you. You can use this tool to get valuable information for yourself on just about anything.

Next we can take this skill out into the world. Use your tools to manage your energy body when you leave the house and then as you go through your day, use the above tool to intuit how you feel about the people and places that you interact with. If, when you stop to talk to Susan in the break room, you get a headache or feel heavy, trust that it behooves you to keep your energy filter strong around her. If on the other hand, you feel lighter and brighter around her and when you think about opening your heart a little more to her, it feels good and safe, then go for it.

When we learn to trust our ability to discern who is healthy for us and who is not and we can then act accordingly, we open the doorway to keeping ourselves healthy while also forging deeply satisfying and rewarding relationships.

I’m still careful about who I let in, but I’ve allowed myself to connect more deeply and with more vulnerability because I feel stronger and more capable of taking care of myself. I also know, because I’ve done a ton of work, that even if I make a mistake every once in a while, I’ll get through it. It doesn’t have to be a crisis in which I doubt my own ability to manage my life or affairs anymore. And I don’t have to blame others for their shortcomings either because I know that I have support and love not just around me, but within me too.

*For those of you who use essential oils, Clove is a wonderful aid for the establishment and maintenance of healthy boundaries. It supports us in moving from a victim, can’t-say-no mentality to an aligned-with-my-authentic/empowered-self viewpoint. I highly recommend working with it in your auric field and chakras, diffusing it or using a few drops on the soles of your feet. I recommend following application directions and using only 100% therapeutic grade essential oils such as those made by Young Living.