Energetic Boundaries 101: How to Set + Restore Them
How do energetic boundaries differ from physical boundaries?
When describing boundaries, two types of boundaries that will be addressed here are physical and energetic boundaries. They are not necessarily distinct, instead they overlap in the ways we sense and understand them. From the energy-based worldview, physical boundaries are the most obvious due to their tangibility.
Example. We protect our physical boundaries by putting our private belongings in drawers or safety deposit boxes; or we post signs that say “no trespassing” or “keep off the grass,” etc. These are all things we can readily perceive with our five senses.
On the other hand, energetic boundaries are the container of the self, where you end and another person begins. It’s being in your own skin and being in charge of that. We human beings, like other animals, are designed to feel our surroundings for survival purposes. We often “pick up” on what others are feeling, so we can sense if a situation is safe or how we should adapt.
A couple examples of losing your energetic boundaries are as follows:
Example. Imagine you’re in a cheerful mood. Then, you walk into a room where you could “cut the tension with a knife,” even though nobody is speaking.
The tense feelings coming from other people are palpable. Has this ever happened to you before? In such circumstances it would be a common response to pick up on other people’s tension and embody it. In this case, the tension you absorbed from those in the room can stop you from diffusing tension, thinking objectively about the situation, or offering help.
Example. You and your partner are going through a rough time. Your partner is caught up in a conflict at their job and is rightfully self-absorbed. You try and support them by checking in and listening to every detail of every daily upset they’re going through. Meanwhile, you’re doing most of the parenting for your children, working part-time and caring for your elderly parents.
Inside you feel like you’re going to break under all the pressure. This extra stress causes you to be angry and resentful towards your partner and you just want relief and space to breathe.
Why are maintaining energetic boundaries so important?
Without strong energetic boundaries…
- It’s difficult to trust your ability to maintain your own truth, your mood, your beliefs, or your circumstances.
- It’s impossible to be present and respond to other people objectively.
- You’re uncertain if you’re picking up on another person’s feelings, or tapping into your own issues. For example, are you feeling angry because the cashier at the store was crabby when you were buying your groceries, or is it because something is happening in your life that is causing you to feel that way?
5 Tricks to Set + Restore Energetic Boundaries:
- Stop and disengage energetically from what you’re doing. This can be done in taking a simple deep breath and saying a word that is helpful to you. I use the word “focus.” I have a friend who says, “I’m back.” Anything that helps bring you into present time in your own body and separate from whatever it is that’s happening.
- Say your name to help bring you back into your body.
- Ask yourself: “Is this my problem or emotion?” If not yours, whose is it?
- Name what happened. For example, “I just walked into a tension-filled meeting.”
- Name 5 differences between you and the other people you’re with. For example, I’m not wearing green, I’m a male, I’m with my toddler, etc. This will further help you separate from the person you are merging with.
These steps can be done alone, combined, or in any order. Happy Boundary Setting!