We are all in a new world right now. So many of us have been abiding by a “shelter in place” order (stay home) and practicing social distancing in an effort to be good global citizens and flatten the COVID-19 curve…and that drastically changes the ways we are interacting.
This new reality also changes the kinds of boundaries we may need right now, especially if we’re very dialed into the feeling states of others and into the emotions of the collective space.
If you’re an empath, a codependent or a highly sensitive person, this can be an especially trying time.
We are kind of like the psychic sponges of the world. While other people might feel pretty clear about where they begin and where someone else ends, those lines can be more blurred for empaths, codependents and HSPs. We tend to feel the feelings of other people and can experience them as our own. Not necessarily ideal during a global crisis.
The more skilled you become at discerning your own feelings from the feelings of others, the easier it will be to draw healthy boundaries to protect your energy and vitality (and sanity).
In this special episode, I’m going to share things you can do right now to create very impactful boundaries to help you get your needs met and promote harmony and peace, especially if you are confined to a smaller space with family and friends right now.
1. Take a Resentment Inventory
It’s time to get clear about what you need and how you feel. As I mentioned before, this can be a challenge for empaths, but this technique can really help.
Make a list guided by these questions:
Is there anything you’re feeling resentful about right now in your immediate situation?
What’s getting on your nerves?
What feels frustrating?
Where do you feel upset, hurt, unheard or unseen?
When we can connect the dots of what’s bothering us, it will often reveal where a boundary has been crossed or a need has gone unmet. This is a quick tool to help you back into understanding what you DO need.
2. Create a Sacred Space
There is a psychological aspect to creating a space that is just your own that is really beneficial and helpful, especially at this time. While it might feel impossible to do this, I promise you it isn’t! All you need is a small corner of your home that is just for you for 10-20 minutes each day. If that looks like you lighting a little candle and sitting in your bathroom on a pillow to do some deep breathing each morning, that works!
Claiming just a tiny sliver of your day that is just for you, and you alone is a beautiful, simple way to care for yourself and connect to how you’re feeling. I love to take sacred time alone in the morning because it’s a great way for me to calibrate my day.
You can journal, meditate or do Morning Pages to clear away the cobwebs from what you’re experiencing and start fresh daily.
In this week’s downloadable guide, I’ve included the Morning Pages exercise and a guided therapeutic meditation to support you in creating sacred space each day.
3. Clean and Clear Your Energy
Energy work changed my life in so many positive ways. As an empath and a highly sensitive person myself, incorporating this short and easy exercise from my bestie, Lara Riggio, into my daily routine has shifted my interpersonal experiences and my energy levels in a very real way.
Lara showed me how to “zip up” my energetic field, and as someone who in the past, always felt like random people on the street would somehow find me and tell me their deepest, darkest secrets, this quick exercise is now one of my self-care go-to’s to protect my energy!
Another way I like to clear and clean my energy is to do a ritual bath with Epsom salts and essential oils. My longtime gal pal, Kris Carr shared her “Witches Brew” cleansing bath recipe with me decades ago ( I love it!) and now you can grab your own copy and get access to Lara’s instructional video on how to zip up your energy inside the guide right here!
4. Let’s Talk Pandemic Boundaries
So many of us are trying to figure out how to work from home, take care of our kids and family members and peacefully cohabitate 24/7 without losing our minds. Boundaries are the key.
It’s a whole new ballgame, and that calls for new rules of engagement.
The Resentment Inventory is a great place to start. It will help inform what you need to feel sane, calm and seen. If you’re working from home, you’ll need a way to protect your time and physical space.
One of the easiest things to do is to create a “Do Not Disturb” sign to put up during the times you need to get work done. If you have kids, teach them to seek out another adult or come back later when the sign is up (if it’s not an emergency).
Have a conversation with your family or the people you are cohabitating with about everything that needs to get done to keep the household running. If you’re the person who is used to doing all of the emotional labor or all of the things, now could be the perfect opportunity to shift into a new paradigm where you’re sharing the load.
I give you more ideas inside the episode (so watch it here or listen to it here), but it’s important to understand the reason these rules of engagement are so vital. It can be incredibly draining to keep on re-setting a rule or a boundary, but if you have a conversation and everyone gets on the same page, this will save precious time and energy and hopefully, spare you some frustration.
How To Set Healthy Boundaries
Sheltering in place or not, if you’re an empath, codependent or highly sensitive person, you likely have a hard time saying no. Realizing that you have a right to express your preferences can be especially difficult, because we can feel the other person’s urgency and emotions around what they want and need, and it can feel like it’s our own.
Step one is to stop what I call the “Auto-Yes”. Give yourself your own new rule of engagement: implement a 24-hour decision rule. That way, you can give yourself the time and space to really consider how YOU actually feel and what you want to do.
Step two is giving yourself permission to say no. Language is so essential in this piece, so I’ve given you some scripts in the guide to help you have the words you need to communicate your no with ease and grace. You can download that right here.
5. “See” a Professional (virtually, that is)
If you need additional psychological and emotional support right now, get into therapy. Talking with an unbiased professional about what you’re feeling and experiencing right now could be exactly the self-care you need.
I’ve partnered with Better Help, an online counseling platform that can match you to a licensed, professional therapist that you can talk to from the comfort of your couch. It’s affordable, private and just as effective as face-to-face sessions. You can find out more here.
I hope this episode was helpful to you and added value. There are tons of resources in the guide because now is a really good time to figure out how to turn your sensitive nature into your badass superpower!
You can only do that by drawing appropriate boundaries, by knowing how to protect your energy, and by understanding that who you are is a gift. But if you don’t manage it, it manages the crap out of you and can feel like a curse. I don’t want that for you!
We all need your bright and beautiful light in the world right about now. So please, share this on your social media platforms because hopefully, we can reach lots and lots of people who might be in pain right now, who might be suffering, who might feel isolated or at their wit’s end.
For even more free resources, I’ve created a Pandemic Psychological Survival Kit full of things you can do to keep your mental, physical and emotional health intact as we weather the storm of Covid-19.
We’re all in this together, so as always and more than ever, take care of you.
Teri, I am a huge fan of yours and especially the material you teach on boundaries. You are spot on like Kim mentioned above. I had it from both ends in my family of origin, a mother problem, and a father problem. So I got it from both ends. Your post about the mother wound was very comforting. I’m essentially very stable at this stage of my life at 68, but still single after spending many years in therapy. I overcame an eating disorder and never understood that I had no knowledge or ability to set healthy boundaries, or what it meant,…….. especially with the biggest offender of all, my toxic sister. I am essentially estranged from her at this point and had to let her go for my own sanity. I take much better care of myself now, and on a mission to practice self love. Unfortunately, I still struggle daily with not forgiving myself for an egregious mistake I made getting involved with my sister to keep our parents apartment in Florida, that I have to manage 100%. I didn’t realize or could clearly see how toxic she was at the time because she presents a false self, has a learning disability, lies by omission, and I ruminate about it daily.
Thank you for sharing, I hear you and I see you. Keep taking care of yourself and keep healing. I am sending you compassion and strength.
I am a recent viewer of many of your YouTube series regarding daughters of narcissist mother. You have been spot on in everything I hear. My brother is the Golden Child, I am the Scapegoat and my younger sister the Invisible Child. I’m 65 and have struggled (with no knowledge of what I’m struggling with!) that many years. You have brought so much peace and help to me in establishing and sticking to my boundaries. BTW — when I did my mother actually had a tantrum! Wow — it was EXACTLY what you had said would happen. The silence for the past 30 days has been restful.
So glad you’ve given yourself the gift of learning more so you can have some peace. I am sending you strength and compassion.
Thank you Terri, it’s really helpful and it resonates a lot with me!
So glad to hear it!