empaths and codependents

Do you put everyone’s needs and feelings before your own? So much so, that you find it nearly impossible to draw comfortable boundaries in your relationships or are you afraid that if you do say no or assert your wishes, that you might be jeopardizing the relationship?

Have you ever considered that part of the problem might be the fact that you were never taught how to draw effective boundaries and when you couple that with being a highly sensitive person, you get A BOUNDARY DISASTER?

In this week’s Real Love Revolution episode, I’m talking to all my sensitive folks – the empaths, the highly sensitive people and codependents, about drawing boundaries and why it’s so difficult for you to do so. Being in tune with other people’s feelings, desires and wants, creates an even greater challenge when trying to create clean, clear boundaries.

In this week’s video, I cover:

  • Defining different types of boundaries
  • Why it’s difficult for empaths and codependents to set boundaries
  • How to effectively begin boundary setting
  • What good boundaries look like


Let’s go over some little known (but important) information: types of boundaries. We obviously have physical boundaries, which are easy to distinguish: cars, objects, and material possessions. So essentially there is an unexpressed boundary around our toothbrushes, in that we expect that no one else will use our toothbrush. Boundaries can also be personal space, privacy, and your body. Some people don’t like to hug, that’s a boundary. Mental boundaries are your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Other boundaries include emotional boundaries, sexual boundaries and spiritual boundaries, all of which I discuss in this week’s video. The point, which is difficult for empaths and codependents to understand, is that you have a right to have boundaries around all of these things but it’s up to you to create them.

Highly sensitive people spend so much time putting others wants, needs and desires before their own that deep self-knowledge may not be present. Avoiding other people’s disapproval or disappointment has been paramount for so long that it will take a little time and effort to shift that ingrained thought pattern.

However, it is possible.

The first order of business in setting effective boundaries when you are sensitive or a codependent is just immediately stopping the “auto yes.” Because if you can just stop automatically saying yes to things that you really don’t want to do, you are stopping the process and creating space to mindfully decide. Next, is actually saying no with kindness and grace. For more boundary setting techniques and tips, including helpful language for how to say no, download the full Boundary Setting Cheat Sheet now.

So what are good boundaries? Good boundaries are not taking responsibility for things that are not yours (feelings, emotions, situations, etc.), and taking responsibility for things, situations, emotions that are yours. I want you to understand the value, especially if you are codependent or highly sensitive or an empath…you having good boundaries will uplevel every single solitary
relationship in your life. It is not you being mean, bitchy, or selfish. It is truly an act of self-love and ultimately creates the space for healthy relationships.
Drop me a comment here on the blog and let me know what resonated with you after watching this video .
And ladies, if you haven’t yet joined the Real Love Revolution waiting list to gain immediate access to our private FB group and receive a bundle of FREE gifts from me please click here to join us!
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  1. Hi Terri,

    I’m 69 years old with multiple advanced degrees and setting boundaries is the single biggest challenge I face. It’s part of my super responsible, ever diligent, oldest child, perfectionist psyche. You’re right, I am exhausted, and I do play the martyr role. I’m convinced all my doing, especially for my spouse and the family business, is really a form of self punishment. Why can’t I stop? Why can’t I stay on my side of the street? I’ve come to realize, this is my issue alone, and I have the fear it can never be fixed. However, you have given me hope, and I’m going to read your book, and start with low hanging fruit.

    1. Hi Carole- I see you and feel you. ❤️ Codependency can be healed. You will read about this in Boundary Boss, but a helpful exercise is to look at the secondary gain of codependency. What do you get to NOT feel, face, or experience by staying in this situation? In other words, what is the benefit you’re getting out of this right now? (In my case, which I shared in the video here, my high-functioning codependency allowed me to ignore my own pain because I kept focusing on the pain of others.) I hope this helps, and there IS hope ❤️

  2. Thank you for all your videos, I’m an empath brought up in a home with a narcissistic mother who drank, my go to phrases are always “no worries” “no problem” “yes” “I’ll eat anything you want” etc… as a result I’ve lived a life that has brought me to a point of exhaustion, C-PTSD and possibly borderline personality disorder. I’ve felt so defeated and disillusioned, that I’m wondering if life is still living. A month ago I started therapy and it’s going well and each morning I’m watching one of your videos which is helping me a great deal, so thank you. Everything you say makes sense and resonates with me. I’m going to try real hard to stop my auto yes and find out what I like to do, and who I really am. So thanks again x

  3. Hi Terri,

    Is it possible to encounter the dynamic of codependent within a therapy/client relationship?
    Listening to your podcast on what is Codependency? And knowing that I come from a background of having had these Kno of relationships in the past I recognise the sign posts unfortunately, my therapists don’t and are at best dismissive of it/ don’t feel it merits talking about which brings out my over-functioning side/aka controller…..

    Time to find another therapist? One that can teach me about respecting every body’s boundaries
    and how to talk “straight” skills that none of the 3 to dare happen to posses – Are there any questions I can ask that will bring me closer to finding someone I can work with or is it just “pot-luck”?

    1. You can specifically say you are looking for a therapist with good boundaries and who is knowledgable about co-dependency issues. Also if you live in the states psychology today has a, find a therapist, feature that you might find helpful. Also asking your GP or Gyno (or any doctor you like and trust) who they might recommend is a good way to find a good therapist. Asking questions about what type of therapy they do and what their specialty is should give you some information. Yes time to find a new therapist and perhaps tell this one how you are feeling about what they are doing because speaking up with respect and honesty is never a bad idea in this type of setting. Thanks for being here!

  4. Yes, I’ve really learned to declare more boundaries in the last several years, and when I’ve been called a selfish b*tch, that is when I know that I am doing what feels right for me, and have let GO of that guilt and feeling bad for the other person. Me first.. oh well if they don’t like it. It felt strange at first.. but like working out a muscle, the more I flexed it, the stronger I became in putting myself first.

  5. Thank you so much Terri! First of all, your videos have made me aware that I am actually an empath and so many things that have been problematic for me throughout life have become clearer. Second for your informed advice on the pitfalls that present themselves and how to navigate life as an empath with a loving, open heart and – yes – boundaries that nurture my ability to love even more. Sincere gratitude….

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