Empathy is a powerful tool that connects us and brings us together, but it’s vital to still enforce boundaries with this behaviour, to protect ourselves and others from taking on too much
Everything on Earth is made up of energy. You can’t really see it with the naked eye, but every piece of furniture, every animal, every tree, every human is vibrating and emanating in a particular frequency.
Have you ever strolled past someone and just felt good vibes? Or walked in on your parents arguing, and felt like you could cut the tension in the air with a knife? That’s energy. That’s the vibration that is being put out into the world and it can be felt, sometimes deeply.
There have been times in my life when I’ve looked at a random stranger and I could almost see happiness surrounding them. Of course they were smiling, but their aura was so, so bright that their energy completely elevated the surroundings when they walked past. Alternatively, I have felt dark and heavy energy, too. My therapist burns incense after every session as a way to cleanse the space so his clients don’t absorb somebody else’s pain. My own energy has vibrated so low before that I could feel a density in the air. It was uncomfortable.
Empath energy is something we all have inside of us. It’s our ability to relate, connect, and understand the feelings of another. To be able to put yourself in another person’s shoes if you will, and have the ability to imagine how the other person feels. Empathetic energy is needed within society to acknowledge privilege, pain, and purpose, and some examples of how empathy can be shown are through compassion, acceptance, and actively listening.
However, having empathy without boundaries can sometimes be a form of self-sabotage, and can show a lack of self-care. Without boundaries when we are experiencing empathetic energy, we tend to carry the pain and anger of the other person as if it is our own. Rather than of standing on the side-lines, supporting and understanding, we instead absorb energy that isn’t ours to take on. And what help is that to anyone?
We don’t need to become enmeshed in what someone else is going through to be a good person, and we don’t need to completely sink into someone else’s pain to be seen as a good friend. We are both of these, and can only be both of these if we implement healthy boundaries, especially when it comes to empathy.
You may hear within spiritual places, or read self-development books, that talk about ‘being an empath’ – which is slightly different to empathetic energy. Being an empath is having the ability to actually feel what someone else is feeling, instead of just understanding it and being able to relate. But whether you’re an empath or experience empathetic energy, the emotional and spiritual hygiene of having boundaries still stands.
In order to maintain a sense of balance and grounding within our relationships, we have to implement practices that allow us to let go of things that don’t belong to us: our boss’s rage, our partner’s insecurity, our friends’ money worries, for example. If we soak up these feelings, they become us and we often carry them without noticing.
A part of having empathy for someone else is that we can support them and help them through what they’re going through. Empathy allows us to hold their hand and walk beside them, but if we lack boundaries we cannot do that; we will hold their hand and sink with them, which is what we don’t want. Our boundaries keep both parties safe.
So how do we express empathy, and how do we do it with healthy boundaries?
- Acknowledge their pain.
- Be supportive and encouraging.
- Actively listen.
- Recognise their feelings and your own.
- Only give what you can without sacrificing your own mental health.
- Affirm out loud, “I am letting go of everything that isn’t mine.”
It is absolutely possible to acknowledge someone else’s pain without it deeply affecting your own life. That isn’t to be harsh or distance yourself from what other people are going through, it’s more to appreciate that we are all only human. We cannot continuously pour into someone else without leaving ourselves empty.
Love Grace x
To get in touch with a life coach to help you set boundaries in your own life, visit lifecoach-directory.org.uk