For the highly sensitive person (HSP), paying attention to your energetic boundaries and how you can develop realistic practices for protecting your energy is very important. Protecting your energy is a way for you to create safety, compassion, and care around your energy field so you can show up in the fullness of who you are without becoming depleted, resentful, and guarded.
“Boundaries are a prerequisite for compassion and empathy. We can’t connect with someone unless we’re clear about where we end and they begin. If there’s no autonomy between people, then there’s no compassion or empathy, just enmeshment.”Brene Brown
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Think of Energetic Boundaries as a Garden
Imagine you are the steward of a beautiful garden surrounding a lovely home. There’s a picket fence around the perimeter of the garden as a clear indicator of where the property begins and ends. There’s a gate for this garden, which no one can enter without your invitation.
- The fence represents your energetic boundaries
- The garden represents your energy field
- The house represents your heart and deepest self
- The gate represents your self-agency to decide who can enter your garden space
You are responsible for the care, well-being, and health of your garden. You also get to decide who (and what) gets to enter through your garden gate, how far into your garden they can come, and how long they are allowed to stay.
If your garden is in disrepair, you are more likely to attract people (and circumstances) who will take advantage of your dilapidated fence, broken gate, and lack of care for your personal space.
As you tend to your energetic garden with loving intention, and dwell within the parameters of your energy (as opposed to seeking well-being outside yourself), you become more centered, grounded, and at ease.
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6 Practices for Protecting Your Energy as a Highly Sensitive Person
Practice #1 – Protecting Your Energy: Fill Your Cup First
The best way for your Energetic Boundary Garden flourish is to fill your cup first.
Filling your cup first and prioritizing your needs is the equivalent of having a healthy and thriving Energetic Boundary Garden. When you do simple things for yourself, like going to bed on time, moving your body, taking a shower, drinking enough water, meditating for five minutes, [insert your favorite self-care practices], you are gifting yourself with a larger abundance of energy.
When your Energetic Boundary Garden is overflowing with abundance, you can now give from your overflow. Just as pouring from an empty cup will leave you energetically depleted, filling your cup first will keep your energetic forcefield in good health. This prevents depletion and gives you the energetic resources you need to deal with daily stressors and stimuli.
You Cannot Pour From an Empty Cup
When I was a new mom with a baby and toddler, I struggled to fill my cup first. However, when I started getting up early in the morning to give myself 30 minutes to take a shower, get dressed, brush my teeth, and have coffee before anyone else in my house was awake, I became a thousand times more patient, and capable as a parent. It was hard at first to drag myself out to bed that early in the morning, but with time I woke up early naturally and was excited for those 30 minutes to myself. Once that routine was established, I created a similar evening routine that helped me wind down and get back to center.
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Practice #2 – Protecting Your Energy: Give Back to What Gives to You
Reciprocity is very important to HSPs because we love to give and care for people. We’re sensitive to the moods, feelings, and needs of others, which can leave us feeling energetically depleted. When the love and care we so naturally give to others is reciprocated, we are energetically filled up.
If you are giving your time, energy, gifts, and care to people, places, and things that don’t give back to you with reciprocity (ie: help fill your cup), it’s a good idea to reclaim your energy and find people and places you can give to that value, appreciate, and reciprocate the same level of care.
Reciprocity Is Everything
In the example of the Energetic Boundary Garden, imagine you have a neighbor whose garden is in disrepair… their fence is falling over, and they aren’t taking care of their garden or heart house. You might be tempted to go over and help fix up their garden. However, if they’re not willing to give back to you in the same way, you are now giving to something (or someone) that drains your energy. This lack of reciprocity can also cause weeds of resentment to grow in your garden, which also depletes your energy. Give to the people and situations that give back to you, and your energy field will remain abundant and joyful!
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Practice #3 – Protecting Your Energy: “Mr. Rogers Yourself”
If you’re familiar with the Mr. Rogers TV show, you likely remember at the beginning of every episode Mr. Rogers would come home from work and change his clothes. He would hang up his suit jacket, trading it for a comfortable cardigan; and change from dress shoes to a pair of simple sneakers. All the while he would sing a song, inviting us to be his neighbor.
The small but mighty transition of Mr. Rogers changing from ‘work clothes’ to ‘home clothes’ is a wonderful example of how we can keep our energetic boundaries healthy and strong with ease, and maybe even a song.
Performing micro-transitions as you changeover from one environment to another, or switch activities throughout your day, is one of the simplest practices for giving yourself an energy boost.
Transitions That Support You
As a young girl (and even now), I like to change my clothes multiple times a day… an outfit for morning yoga, an outfit for work and meetings, a comfy outfit to change into when I get home, an outfit for going out to dinner, etc. Outfit changes are just one way to ‘Mr. Rogers Yourself’ and keep your Energetic Boundaries clean and clear.
The way your ‘Mr. Rogers self’ might look different. Perhaps taking a few deep breaths before walking into a meeting would give you more energy, or maybe meditating in your car for five minutes in the grocery store parking lot is all you need. Finding micro-moments to ‘Mr. Rogers Yourself’ throughout the day with outfit changes, meal breaks, self-care, and breathing practices can help move your energy in a new direction and prepare you for the next part of your day.
Practice #4 – Protecting Your Energy: Sheild Yourself From Overstimulation
As an HSP, you are probably sensitive to bright lights, loud sounds, large crowds, busy rooms, other people’s energies, etc. One of the biggest things you can do is limit how much stimulation you are allowing into your energy field.
Again, think of the Boundary Garden… don’t let just anything come through the gate without clear parameters for engagement.
Things You Can Do to Shield Yourself:
- Wear sunglasses, glasses with tinted lenses, or blue light glasses to reduce stimulation on your eyes (even inside)
- Avoid LED and fluorescent lighting. Use only 40-watt incandescent lightbulbs or bulbs that mimic natural sunlight.
- If you’re in a large crowd, cross your arms or put your hands in your pocket
- Wear special earplugs to reduce external noises (at night and during the day)
- Wear a hat, scarf, or jacket to create extra layers between you and your environment (extra clothing creates a muffling effect)
- Wear jewelry (necklace, bracelet, earrings, etc.) as a talisman to guard yourself from unwanted energies
- Use essential oils to calm your nervous system and bring you back to the present moment
Practice #5 – Protecting Your Energy: Energetic Boundary Visualization
You give and receive energy in all kinds of ways – mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual – and if you’re not mindful of your energy levels you can become easily drained. It’s then natural to protect your energy by shutting down and making yourself small.
Whether it’s your energy or energy coming at you from outside, you can protect your Energetic Boundaries and stay centered no matter the circumstances. A simple energy protection meditation can be done at any time and will transform your life with ongoing practice.
Protect Your Energy Guided Meditation
This Protect Energy Guided Meditation focuses on light as your primary energy source. You will be guided through visualizations for expanding your inner light as a source of protection against outside forces.
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”Deepak Chopra
Practice #6 – Protecting Your Energy: Set Boundaries With Yourself
The people, places, and activities you engage in regularly have an enormous impact on your energy as an HSP.
Take note of the things you dread doing in your life. Ask yourself some questions about why you dread these things. Get curious about what changes you can make in your life to reduce or eliminate contact with these circumstances.
The biggest energy drain for an HSP is not having clear boundaries with how you interact with yourself, your environment, and the people around you. Learning to set boundaries around your time as well as the people and places you spend your time helps keep your Energetic Boundaries in good health and reduces your stress levels significantly.
Reflective Questions for Creating Boundaries
- What boundaries do you need to set with yourself and your energy?
- Do you let your mind run rampant and play out old patterns and programming? What are new thoughts and patterns you can opt into instead?
- Are you scrolling on social media, then feeling anxious and overwhelmed? What boundaries can you create for yourself in this area?
- Where are you putting your time, attention, and energy? Is it working for you? Why? Why not?
- What are some boundaries you can set with yourself with behaviors you are engaged in that you know aren’t working for you?
- What people, places, and circumstances do you need to limit in your life to keep your boundary garden in good health?
Protect Your Energy, or Else
It’s important to remember that Energetic Boundaries are about ‘containment’ – creating containers for yourself (like the metaphorical Boundary Garden) to help you feel safe, centered, and at peace within yourself.
“Some containers are concrete – your home, car, office, neighborhood, a certain valley or hilltop, a forest or bit of shoreline, certain clothing, or certain beloved public place, like a church or library. Some of the most important containers are the precious people in your life.”Elaine N. Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person
Boundaries are closely tied to ‘containers’, and it’s your unique work to explore what containers (spaces, places, people) create a sense of safety and help you maintain healthy energetic boundaries. The key word here is explore, because protecting your energy through healthy boundaries takes practice.
Practice, Not Perfect
I first learned about Energetic Boundaries and boundary-setting in 2004 from my mentor. At first, the concept and practices around creating boundaries were terrifying and difficult. I had no idea what I was doing or how to communicate my boundaries with kindness. With a shaking voice and pounding heart, I would practice saying No, speaking my truth, and/or asking for my needs to be met. Over time I discovered that imperfect boundaries are better than no boundaries at all. The first step to creating boundaries for yourself is to just take the first step. And know that if you slip up or don’t do it perfectly, you will always have another chance to try again. Have compassion with yourself. Find places, spaces, and people who help you feel safe, so you can keep practicing with love and compassion.
You’ve got this, and you’re not alone. Keep showing up for yourself. Keep filling your cup first. Keep protecting your energy by tending to your energetic boundary garden.