4 boundaries to set to become an empowered empath

For those of us who are unaware of what an empath is and may be one; for those who are an empath but not yet using this trait to your advantage; for those who aren’t an empath but sharing qualities of one.

empowerment is to make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.

the dictionary

Walk with me as I learn to control, claim and yield by empathness.

what is an empath?

Being an empath is not a mental illness but it is correlated to anxiety and depression.

Being an empath is not the same as having empathy.

Being an empath is similar to being a highly sensitive person (HSP).

Being an empath is like being an emotional sponge (Orloff) to the environment, people, conflict, tasks, feelings around us.  The problem is without becoming an empowered empath — meaning we’ve examined, understand and strategically yield our empathness — we are indiscriminate sponges (Thought Catalog).  We soak up anything and everything without thought.

common characteristics of empaths (Dr. Orloff)

Common characteristics — not all empaths are created equal. So start researching how your empathness functions and manifests within your essence.

  • incredibly sensitive to emotions
  • becoming overstimulated
  • absorbing stress and negativity from others
  • feeling things intensely
  • emotional and social hangovers
  • isolation and loneliness
  • emotional burnout

Any of these sound familiar? You may be an empath. Or, you may have things to work on! Having things to work on is my favorite. Let’s set some bOunDaRiEs.

setting specific boundaries to become an EMPOWERED empath

Whether you identify as an empath or just have things to work on, here’s how you can become an empowered YOU.

  1. managing time spent on activities that especially affect you.
  2. taking inventory of who you spend time with, how much, and how that makes you feel.
  3. building in time to process transitions
  4. having a plan to use when overwhelmed.

Instead of explaining each of these – they are self-explanatory!, let me give you examples in my life.

1. making time spent on activities that especially affect you.

One activity that affects me is seeing, hearing, watching violence. Sensitivity to violence is a common characteristic of being an empath and a highly sensitive person. One TV show that I enjoy but that glorifies violence is Criminal Minds (Spencer Reid is MY detective). So, I don’t watch Criminal Minds daily or even weekly, I don’t binge it (watch more than one episode at a time), and I listen to how I’m feeling before I start an episode. (BTW, I watch The West Wing if you’re curious.)

2. taking inventory of who you spend time with, how much and how that makes you feel.

Some people are EXHAUSTING. And LEECHES of energy. I’m guessing someone just came to mind for you. We all got ’em.

Limit your exposure to this person. Limit types of communication that are particular energy sucking with this person. If you have a coworker in mind, for example, are they more exhausting when you chat on the phone (more room for drifting) or are they more exhausting when emailing back and forth back and forth?

You don’t have to be hostile toward this person, even though you may want to be. But you do have to set limits (boundaries).

3. building in time to process transitions.

This one is the least self-explanatory, so allow me: From a high-stimulus environment to a low-stimulus environment, you often need sufficient time to adjust. You may feel hollowness after a loud concert or party and need to spend some time in that hollowness. You may find that you can’t just go to bed after spending time with friends; you have to transition into a different state.

If this rings true to you in any capacity, identify when that is and try to schedule in transition time for yourself. I see this tip used when talking about scheduling therapy. It helps for some to schedule therapy, plus an hour, so they have time to transition into the rest of the day. It may be that before an important meeting (or any meeting) at work, you need time to transition into and out of that meeting. I remember in school I would need transition time before big exams.

4. establishing a plan for when you’re overwhelmed.

This is a such a CBT/DBT therapy trick and it’s super fun to brainstorm. A plan for being overwhelmed can look like rolling on some perfume and breathing it in mindfully. (Granted, this may not be the best idea during a pandemic???) It might be writing your mantra on a sticky note in some funky lettering, taking a walk, savoring a piece of chocolate, doing a Headspace meditation, jotting down a blog post idea related to ur stress, whateva!

It can be anything that is safe and healthy. It just has to be established ahead of time so you know exactly what to do.

that’s a wrap!

A not-yet-empowered empath is distinctly different from an empowered one:

A not-yet-empowered empath is indiscriminate in how they spend their time and energy.  They feel they don’t have control over their emotions or energy.

BUT fully empowered empaths are… “badass emotional ninjas and powerful alchemists. They just have to learn how to tune into their power and trust their inner guidance in order to tap into the magic that is rightfully theirs (Thought Catalog).”

Badass emotional ninjas and powerful alchemists – it’s a lofty but doable goal.

further reading

thought catalog’s article
Dr. Judith Orloff’s class

P.S. in case we haven’t met…

you seem normal is a mental health medium run by 24-year-old communication professional (hello!) who… well, seems normal.  Turns out, my roommate is mental illness. Actually more like my unborn, and non-conceived baby. Because it’s like, inside of me. This is getting weird already. Topics of focus: self-awareness (we love it), mood, anger management, perfectionism, relationships & boundaries.

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