If you’ve ever felt drained after spending time with a friend or family member, you’ve experienced how others’ emotions and energies can leave an impact. Sometimes we unknowingly allow ourselves to take on and let those feelings influence our days, weeks, months, or even our lives.
Although most of us have experienced this feeling in one form or another, it’s interesting to note that it’s not taught in our K-12 education system. The idea of setting healthy boundaries was never discussed when I grew up and I never really understood that my parents’ problems or my sister’s problems were not my own.
Sometimes we are not even aware of it happening. This negative impact can be disguised as guilt, resentment, anger or even a sense of being violated. When I notice this, I often look within myself to see why it’s showing up in my life—what lessons can I learn from this?
Each situation is very unique, but different tools can help us learn how to communicate and send our love to those suffering. You’ve probably heard the saying “misery loves company,” but if you really stop and think for a moment, taking on others’ sadness and guilt does not help the situation in any way. Showing strength and setting boundaries allows and encourages others to do the same. Respect yourself first and foremost, and you will inspire others to do the same.
Keeping clear and healthy boundaries is a challenge, and trial and error is bound to happen. Since these are powerful emotions, boundaries will ebb and flow—sometimes we will feel that we failed ourselves and let others in. Other times we will acquire a sense of strength in our alignment and ability to respect ourselves enough to speak our truth and not carry others’ emotional baggage.
We are all human. We are here to communicate with each other and advance our society as a whole. We want to stay open while also protecting ourselves from situations that may bring us down. There is a balance to this—it is in this flow that we can appreciate the beauty of life and the ability to feel.
Below are some tools that have helped me in setting boundaries.
If this is a new concept and you’re unsure if this affects your life, I encourage you to give these tools a try and see if you notice a positive difference in the way you feel before, during, and after you spend time with others.
Self-care is an important part of setting sustainable boundaries. Take time to connect deep within yourself to understand how you truly feel. Spend time alone or just check in with yourself throughout the day. Go on a walk, take deep breaths, meditate, or simply just light incense or a candle.
Visualization also makes a big difference. Every morning when I wake up, I visualize myself putting on and wearing a shield around my body. It looks like an aura about 10 inches above my skin, from the top of my head all the way down to my feet. This shield is my personal space—a buffer that no one can pierce through. I imagine feeling safe and protected. I like to visualize this shield when I’m in a conversation that’s starting to affect me, or just when I need confirmation that it’s still around me. Since connecting with others and being there for loved ones in times of need is important to me, I like to picture my heart energy pushing through, sending as much love their way as possible. Love is infinite. There is enough love to go around, you can never be depleted of love. We are love at our core and we can always connect through this center.
Another favorite of mine- CRYSTALS! Crystals and stones are a great way to bring us back into the present moment. I like to keep hematite with me in my car, where I usually end up having most of my phone conversations. This keeps me grounded and less likely to attach to others’ emotions. Hematite, which consists of 70% Iron, is very healing for me, but a different crystal or rock may speak to you. Keep one in your pocket or purse to hold during or after stressful situations.
These tools have helped me push through many difficult situations, and I only wish I learned it at an earlier age. What works for one person may not work for another, so I encourage you to take the time to connect with yourself and try out different ways to process and protect yourself from emotions that may not be your own to begin with.