Set Healthy Boundaries
**Excerpted from “Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People” (Sounds True, Oct. 22, 2019)
Your relationships will improve when you can set clear boundaries. A boundary means communicating your preferences about how you want to be treated. For instance, “It would be great to see you tonight, but I only have an hour.” Or “I’m sorry, I can’t take on another commitment now.” Or “Please stop raising your voice.” If you are wishy-washy you won’t be taken seriously. To successfully express a boundary, be kind but firm. Then others will know you are serious and will be less likely to feel offended.
If you are reluctant to set boundaries, what holds you back? Is it low self-esteem? Are you afraid of being rejected or hurting others’ feelings? Maybe you didn’t feel safe expressing yourself in your family. Some of my sensitive patients initially start psychotherapy
feeling too timid to speak up in their lives. Before they were able to set boundaries, they’d always been the designated doormats or victims in their relationships.
To shift this pattern, practice the adage “Feel the fear but set the boundary anyway.” Start with easier people, such as a telemarketer or a supportive friend. (Don’t begin with your mother!)
Learning this protective skill will help you thrive.
SET YOUR INTENTION
Today I will firmly and kindly assert a boundary with one person. This form of self-care will allow me to have healthier relationships.
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Judith Orloff, M.D., is a New York Times bestselling author, a member of the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty, and has a Facebook Empath Support Community with more than 6,000 members. She has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, and in Oprah Magazine, the New York Times and more. Her new book, Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People (Sounds True, Oct. 22, 2019), draws from her own experiences as an empath to share the secret to well-being. Learn more at https://drjudithorloff.com
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