I hope to find you well! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! I was able to have some one-on-one time with my youngest son, which was really fun! We went to the Farmer’s Market, hit some golf balls at the driving range, watched a move and enjoyed swimming in our new pool! It was a pretty special bonding weekend!
So, today’s topic is emotional boundaries, which is one of my favorites! It is a topic I talk about a lot with my clients and is an area in which I have had to do a lot of my own personal work.
So let’s jump into the fun! I would like to start off by saying that often, especially if you are a very loving and compassionate person, you highly value being of service to others, helping others, doing things for others, etc. These are amazing qualities. They are not just qualities; they truly are your gifts and strengths you hold!
Not only do you have the gift of being loving and compassionate to others, but you can also quickly pick up on the energy or mood of other people. I often share that when I walk into a room, I can quickly pick up on the mood and emotions occurring before I even start talking with people.
Being loving and compassionate is such a gift you have, however, at the same time, it is a gift that must be protected. What can happen is when others are experiencing either challenging situations and or painful emotions, you can take on and absorb their feelings and experiences as if they are your own. So, for example, have you ever been in a great mood, talked with someone experiencing some painful emotions, and walked away feeling down, stressed, anxious – feeling emotions similar to what they were feeling? If so, this is an indicator that your emotional boundaries may need a little tuning.
The potential problem with taking on everyone’s emotions is it can start to directly and negatively affect your mood. If you continue to absorb others’ emotions, you may feel exhausted, frustrated, depressed, anxious, etc. You may not only feel frustrated with others, but you may be frustrated with yourself as well. Frustration with yourself may be conscious or sub-conscious. Often, if you are feeling frustrated with yourself, the frustration is coming from a part of you that deeply desires self-care and feels neglected because you are giving too much to others and not giving enough to yourself; we all have an inner child who needs love, care, attention and nurturing as well.
So, briefly, the longer you go without setting emotional boundaries, the more likely you are to experience feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, etc. The longer this goes on, the less your gifts of compassion and empathy can shine through in a way that is both healthy and supportive to others.
So let’s turn this thing around and look at the bright side of things! The good news is that we can still have compassion for others without overwhelming ourselves! Start learning about how to set emotional boundaries with my video, “Three Simple Strategies to Set Emotional Boundaries.” After viewing the video you will be able to put the strategies into practice right away!
Here are 3 Easy Steps to Setting Emotional Boundaries!
- Make the distinction of natural empathy and caretaking. Natural empathy is your gift and is desperately needed by so many. Caretaking is when you take on others emotions and run them through your body, causing you to feel what they are feeling. Caretaking can also occur when doing things for others, when in fact, they should be doing those very same things on their own and having some personal accountability.
- Remind yourself it is ok to be in a different emotional state than others. You can hold onto your joy while offering others the love and support they need during their difficult time. When you have such strong empathy and compassion, you need to give yourself permission to set the boundary. For example, you can say something to yourself, such as:
- “We can be in different emotional states and still feel very connected.”
- “It is ok for me to be happy and he or she to be sad – I am still able to extend my love and compassion toward that other person.”
- “They are working through some tough emotions / situations right now. Their emotions are theirs, and I do not have to take them on. I will extend compassion to them, and I will choose to stay in my joy.”
- Try to let go of certain expectations. Each and every one of us has our journey through life. As we embark on challenging situations and or go through challenging times, they are often present in our lives to teach us something. When our loved ones or people we care about are struggling, we can care about them and love them, but they may or may not make the changes you are hoping for, or the end result may not be what you are hoping for. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just love them, extend compassion to them, set the limit to take care of yourself and let go of the outcome. Often, the more we can let go of the outcome, the more we can be in the present and allow things to unfold just as they are supposed to.
You may be reading this thinking, “it sounds so much easier than what it really is,” and you are correct. 🙂 Setting boundaries is difficult. It takes a lot practice, and it takes a lot patience. As you practice healthy boundaries, be kind to yourself and remind yourself there is a learning curve.
As always, I love to hear your feedback! Please let me know your thoughts, additional tips you have used that been helpful, comments, and or celebrations you have had regarding this topic! I always love to hear and learn from you as well – we truly all need each other to learn, live and grow!
P.S. Emotional Boundary steps 1 and 2 were adopted from the Global Association of Holistic Psychotherapy
Ronda Stevens is a licensed mental health therapist, certified health & wellness coach, certified holistic coach and founder of Ready, Set, Live Holistic Life and Wellness Coaching! Ronda has years of experience with compassionately guiding and supporting people make changes that dramatically improve and change lives! To learn more, please visit her website at www.getreadysetlive.com. You can call contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . She is also available via phone 1-800-558-7080.