I came to an important realization recently: I am largely responsible for the fact that my energy is often drained by external forces, whether they be people, situations, environments, or world events.
I’ve always given my power away when it comes to my energy. Boundaries? What’s a boundary? You’ve never seen someone with less boundaries than this woman! To be honest with you, the mere concept of a boundary is pretty new to me, and because of this I forgive myself for not having any. I didn’t know any better. My parents certainly never taught me to have them, and indeed violated my inherent boundaries so often that of course I’m porous as fuck.
I cannot control the energy around me, but I’m realizing that I have the power of choice. I choose what energy to allow into my sphere. I get to decide where I place my own attention and focus. I’ve always thought that I am so deeply affected by everything around me because I’m highly sensitive and empathic – turns out it’s just, guess what? That’s right, shitty boundaries.
That doesn’t discount the fact that I am sensitive and I am an empath, but I can be both of those and still protect my energy. In fact, it’s vital that I put my mental health first and foremost – what I’ve learned is that I cannot actually do meaningful and effective work if I am constantly paralyzed by the anxiety brought on by allowing everyone else’s energy to seep in. It’s a challenge for me to complete even the most basic of tasks when I’m caught up in the chaos of the outside world.
Okay, so you’re probably wondering how to even begin successfully protecting your energy. First, be gentle with yourself – you are unlearning deeply ingrained behavioral patterns. It won’t be easy, or linear, and you will experience setbacks. That’s okay. Let go of the discouraging stories that your inner voice tells you when things aren’t going perfectly. Jen Pastiloff refers to this voice as your Inner Asshole, which I absolutely love, because it is an asshole. Do you listen to assholes? Damn right you don’t. So don’t listen to your ego when it judges your progress and condemns you to lifelong failure after one mistake, because it doesn’t know shit.
Think of your energy as a precious and valuable resource that you don’t just give away to everyone. You deserve to keep it for yourself – you can only truly help others when you come from a foundation of grounded strength. When you need to set a boundary, do so, and most importantly, stick to it. A boundary that you don’t enforce is merely a suggestion, and no one is going to take it seriously. This includes boundaries that you set with yourself – for example, committing to limited time on social media, news sites, or anything else that needlessly drains you. If you don’t respect your own boundaries, how can you trust yourself to set firm rules with others?
I’ll make one last point on this subject, because it’s one I know I struggle with, and maybe this is where you slip up as well. You cannot control how other humans react to your boundaries, and you cannot worry about what they think. It’s not as difficult to tell ourselves to stay away from politics or stop spending time in an environment that doesn’t feel fulfilling, but telling ourselves to keep boundaries with our loved ones, no matter how they feel about it, is a different story. One of the hardest things that I’ve done – and believe me, it’s a work in progress – is begin to shift the habitual patterns I have with my loved ones, regardless of how they react, in order to finally honor myself and my own needs.
It’s tough, and it’s scary, and it definitely does not feel comfortable. What I can tell you is that it’s also empowering. It teaches you to begin trusting yourself. You have to believe that you are capable of keeping yourself safe and prioritizing your needs in every situation in order to thrive.
I know that was a lot. Take some time to integrate the information. Do some research on boundaries, because they’re life-changing. Sit down and journal, or meditate, or do whatever it is that serves you best when you are working towards change.
You can not only protect your energy, but protect it fiercely. I believe in you, and I love you.