By Brooke Nielsen
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “boundaries” before; it's an important topic!
Here's the thing though: after years of my own therapy and getting pretty darn good at setting boundaries, I still felt exhausted at the end of the day, like I was carrying around a 50 lb. backpack of the world's emotional junk.
What was going on? If I was decent at setting boundaries, why did I feel this way?
Well, when most people use the word "boundaries", they’re talking about relational boundaries.
Here's an example of a relational boundary: my friend wants to talk at 9pm tonight, but that’s too late for me. I let her know, “I’d love to connect with you, but I’d rather talk earlier in the day. How about tomorrow?”
In this case, I successfully set a relational boundary (woohoo, that’s huge!)
But it's possible to set a relational boundary like above and still:
This has everything to do with your energetic boundaries.
So what exactly is the difference between relational and energetic boundaries?
Relational boundaries have to do with more concrete elements of a relationship (the time you’re willing to give, ways you expect to be treated, your choices in regards to touch and your body, etc.)
Energetic boundaries have to do with the unseen energy that's exchanged between you and the world (ie. how much access others get to your energy and how much energy and emotion you absorb from others).
They're two very different types of boundaries that require two very different types of skills.
The reason I felt so burdened despite my boundary setting skills is that I didn't know how to set energetic boundaries (and didn't even know they existed!).
How does that sit with you? Does it make sense?
Ask yourself: do I struggle more with relational or energetic boundaries? Or with both?
In my next post, I'm going to talk about how our energetic boundaries get damaged (and why HSPs are more vulnerable to this happening).