energetic boundaries

There’s a little-known force responsible for some of the main challenges Highly Sensitive People face. I used to witness it daily in my own life, but I had no idea what to call it, let alone how to change it. Before I tell you what it is, let me share how other HSPs have described it:

  • “It’s so hard to constantly absorb the emotions of people around me.”
  • “I’m exhausted from having to process SO much throughout the day – not only my many emotions, but sometimes the emotions/energy of the people around me.”
  • “It can be painful to care so much about all living things.”

Do those sound familiar?

The issue behind all of these struggles is energetic boundaries. I hadn’t heard the term energetic boundaries until a few years ago, but understanding this concept has changed my life. Let me paint you a picture of how my life used to be:

  • I constantly tuned into the emotional states of those around me so I could adjust how I showed up.
  • I soaked up others’ energy like a sponge.
  • I was often confused about whether my feelings were mine or someone else’s.
  • I was exhausted from carrying and feeling so much emotion.
  • I felt all of this pain, because my energetic boundaries were compromised.

What Are Energetic Boundaries?

Cyndi Dale, author of the book Energetic Boundaries says, they “border our spiritual selves and promote our true nature….When created and managed correctly, they make sure that our real selves- not the ideas, thoughts, and beliefs that aren’t us- are in charge of our lives.

And they share information with the world, telling everyone exactly who we are, what we want, and how they can treat you…quite simply, without boundaries, we can’t share who we are with the world.”

In other words, energetic boundaries are like energetic/spiritual skin. Just like our physical skin protects us from absorbing every pollutant in our environment, healthy EBs keep us from absorbing all the energetic “stuff” in our environment.

They protect us by keeping in the energy that supports us and letting out what doesn’t. They also draw to us things that we need like guidance, relationships, life lessons, and healing. ​

Your Energetic Boundaries Can Become Damaged

Many of us either didn’t develop healthy EBs or had ours damaged due to things like dysfunctional family dynamics or traumatic life experiences.

If you’re wondering whether you have compromised energetic boundaries, here are some common symptoms:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by others’ feelings, moods, and needs
  • People pleasing, even when it’s harmful to you
  • Out-of-the-blue, intense attacks of negativity
  • Anger, frustration and exhaustion from carrying everyone else’s “stuff”
  • Recurring struggles with work, relationships, and/or money
  • Heaviness and physical ailments from absorbing outside energies
  • Generalized anxiety and a sense of needing to be vigilant all the time

When compromised, our energetic boundaries can become rigid, permeable, or poked full of holes. Before I started healing in this area, I had all 3 of these types of EB damage. Let’s see if YOU relate to any of these.

If your energetic boundaries are rigid, you may:

  • have a tender heart but are often disconnected from your emotions
  • have a hard time trusting people
  • keep others’ at arm’s length
  • turn away positive relationships and experiences (without meaning to)

​If your energetic boundaries are permeable, you may:

  • have a hard time knowing where you end and others begin
  • often feel invisible or overlooked
  • people please at your own expense

If your energetic boundaries have got holes in them, you may:

  • feel overwhelmed by others’ feelings, moods, and needs
  • feel anger, frustration and exhaustion from carrying everyone else’s “stuff”
  • feel a generalized, free-floating sense of anxiety​.

Take a moment to ask yourself which of the above descriptions of compromised energetic boundaries you relate to. Reading these descriptions may be jarring for you (“it’s like she’s talking about me!”) or maybe it’s relieving (“oh my gosh, there’s a name for what I’ve felt my whole life”).

Either way, I’m glad to be raising awareness about this important issue that impacts your life in every way. After all, awareness is the first step to healing. Your energetic boundaries can be healed and when this happens

  • We can have empathy without burning out or taking on others’ emotions
  • Our energy increases and exhaustion disappears
  • We feel clear about who we are and that it’s safe to be ourselves
  • Our ability to follow our intuition increases

Energy Skills

One of the skills essential to healing is how to release energy we’ve picked up throughout the day that isn’t ours. The Energetic Swiffer Duster works like a charm to do just that.

Energetic Swiffer Duster:

At the end of each day, or after a draining experience, imagine dragging a swiffer from your head down to your toes, inside and outside of your body.
Imagine the duster picking up all the energy that doesn’t serve you or belong to you. Do this as many times as you need to to release the residue that isn’t yours. This simple exercise is part of good energetic hygiene. Just like we need to brush our teeth daily, it’s a good idea to clean ourselves off in this way regularly, too.

If you’d like to learn more about healing your energetic boundaries, here are 3 steps to consider:

  • Read Energetic Boundaries by Cyndi Dale
  • Find an HSP-informed therapist or coach
  • Sign up for my FREE HSP Toolkit and get regular emails about energetic boundary healing.

I’m cheering you on as you pursue healing in this area. I’ve come to believe that this is one of the keys to living well as a Highly Sensitive Person. When we can stay connected to our empathy without carrying the weight of the world, we’re truly free to be ourselves.

Image: Nazli Atabey – Unsplash

monsterid

About Brooke Nielsen

Brooke Nielsen is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and founder of the Therapeutic Center for Highly Sensitive People in Boulder, CO. With advanced training in trauma therapy and relationships, she's spent thousands of hours helping Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) thrive. She's also the founder of Intuitive Warrior, an online learning community which guides HSPs to discover the gifts that lie hidden in what they thought were the worst parts of themselves. Learn more at Intuitive Warrior.

3 Comments

  1. […] Energetic Boundaries: The One Thing Most HSPs Don’t Know About But Desperately Need […]



  2. Willa Carroll on January 23, 2021 at 11:41 am

    Helpful article!



  3. Rohita on January 26, 2021 at 6:20 pm

    Thank you so much once again Brooke! I read (and implemented) the tools from Cyndi Dale’s book and it was the missing key to everything I was struggling with, in engaging with the world. I’m only a few months into the journey but feel calm, grounded and peaceful most of the time in my body now. It’s like a whole new lease on life. Can’t thank you enough for opening the door to the world of Energetic Boundries