Life Coach Question: How Do I Set Boundaries?

On the Facebook groups I'm on, I commonly see questions about setting boundaries. Some people, especially empaths, worry about how to keep other people's energy from getting to them. Others just want to know how to keep other people from treating them like crap.

In order to set proper boundaries, we need to know what they are. Then, we need to know when we need one--and after that, how do we set and maintain them?

Boundaries are a really interesting concept that's best understood in terms of the expansion and contraction of the Empress and Emperor. Instead of a fence or a line in the sand, think of a boundary as something that can be moved back and forth, pulled in and pushed out, depending on what works for you. Now imagine that the boundary has a road sign, just so you know it's there. This is an important point--boundaries are for us as much as they are for other people.

Let's look at the use of boundaries in two different situations--energetically, and for behavior:

For ourselves, we usually know a boundary when someone steps over one--when someone drains us emotionally, or says something to us that gets us upset. We visualize this boundary as something that is designed to keep someone out. In my experience however, in about 90% of the cases where I've had boundary issues it hasn't been with someone coming in, but me stepping outward. In other words, I extended my energy out to meet someone else's when I shouldn't have. It's an easy thing to do when, for example, your kids are pubescent and off-keel, or someone you love is unhappy. It's a challenge to realize that someone else is experiencing a strong emotion, but that it's truly theirs--and that you don't need to share it.

Boundaries are also important in order to make it clear how you expect people to treat you and what is and isn't ok (hence the road sign). It's not unreasonable for people to expect that how they're treating you is ok if you don't object or tell them otherwise. In reality, being clear about these things is also largely for yourself--other people won't respect your boundaries if you don't.

 And, the fact of the matter is you can't control what other people say or do. The best you can do in many cases is post that road sign and say "that is not acceptable." It's a sign to you that energetically, you don't need to take something in. And if you visualize that boundary, you can remove yourself from the situation before you have core breach, or you can visualize the affront washing over you, or parting around you.