Learning To Live In The 3-D World: Boundaries, Relationships, and Overcoming The Influences Of Childhood
Image by Gerd Altmann
One of the greatest gifts that evolutionary empaths give to the world is an open, loving heart. We are deeply committed to holding the vibration of love and heart-centeredness on this planet, often to our frequent detriment when we walk the path unconsciously.
The goal is not to close down the heart, but to develop trust in ourselves to apply the necessary tools to create safety and boundaries. This way, when we begin to feel vulnerable or get knocked off our center, we can right the ship but keep our heart open.
What often happens in the earlier, unconscious years is that we project our need for safety and protection onto others. And to be fair, it is right and normal to expect our parents to protect us! But through their humanness and their own wounds, unmet needs, and unresolved issues, they invariably made some missteps that had significant consequences for us.
Overcoming The Influences Of Our Childhood
None of us make it to adulthood unscathed. Our wounds then feed into the different coping mechanisms and strategies that we employ, which in turn feed into the construct of our energetic container and, subsequently, our ability to create safety, ask for what we need, speak our truth, and draw boundaries.
We can overcome the influences of our childhood! In fact, empath or not, that’s part of our spiritual maturation process as adults. Drawing boundaries is a skill, and anyone can learn how. But know that it will take time.
You will be honing these skills for the rest of your life. But make no mistake, your mastery in this area is crucial for your own well-being and for showing the way for generations coming up behind you. At the soul level, you came here to be a leader in your own life, which also means you are leading by example with your family, friends, work group, and community.
Learning to live in the 3-D is one of the hardest challenges for any soul. We are limitless beings! We are timeless, dimensionless, and formless. Thunk! And now we are crammed into a physical body with limitations, linear time, and physical stuff to maneuver around. It is clunky and confusing down here on Earth. Yet this is what we came here for: to experience life in human form and to contribute to the evolution of humanity in the cosmos.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
The Energetic Impact of Setting Boundaries
So what happens at an energetic level when you draw boundaries? You are essentially changing some aspect of your relationship with a person. You are showing up differently, and this will most definitely show up in your energy field, which will subsequently register in that person’s energy field.
The change could be as simple as saying to your partner, “I’m not folding your clothes and putting them away anymore and here’s why” to “If you don’t get sober I’m leaving this relationship” to “I will no longer allow you to speak to me this way (giving examples), and if you do I will hang up the phone or walk away, and if you continue, I will no longer maintain a relationship with you.”
When you change your behavior, shift a belief, make a new decision, or resolve yourself to a particular action, your energetic signature changes. Your personal vibration shifts to a measurable degree. Measurable by whom? By the people you interact with and especially the person or people the changes are directed at.
When you draw boundaries, do not forget to prepare yourself for the potential reactions. This way you are not caught off guard. Especially if you are highly sensitive, someone else’s onslaught, which is designed to get you to go back to the old way, might do exactly that if you aren’t prepared to hold your ground.
In preparing yourself for others’ reactions, it is also beneficial to expect that they will need time to process your statement and make a decision about how they will respond, depending on the circumstances.
When you do your visualizing or mental preparation work for setting a boundary, your job doesn’t just include figuring out what the boundary is. It includes deciding on the consequences if the other person does not choose to enter into the new parameters of the relationship with you. Taken to its most painful potential outcome, this could include ultimately leaving the relationship, whether it is with your spouse, employer, parent, or friend. As Iyanla Vanzant said on an episode of her television show Iyanla: Fix My Life, “You’ve got to be willing to lose everything to gain yourself.”
I realize that this is a bit bleak, but depending on your life circumstances, it could be a very real possibility. When we have spent the bulk of our lives being doormats, taking care of everyone else’s needs, avoiding rocking the boat, stuffing our own wants and needs deep inside, and codependently taking on everyone else’s emotions and problems, even setting a small boundary can feel like an impossibility. We don’t intend to get ourselves mired in these types of relationships and dynamics, but sometimes the answer is as extreme as get out and get out now.
Here’s another very important fact to remember and probably the hardest to accept: just because you set a boundary doesn’t mean the other person has to agree. This is part of exercising free will as humans. And it is an eventuality you should also prepare yourself for. It is your responsibility to ask for what you need, but it is nobody’s responsibility to comply with your needs. It is a hard truth and one that would behoove you to accept as soon as possible.
If you are a lifelong people pleaser, saying no is one of the scariest statements you can make. If you have spent your existence merging with others, putting everyone else first, or avoiding rocking the boat, then the idea of saying no can feel like standing naked in front of a firing squad. “No!” is a powerful proclamation, and it will get you noticed. William Ury, author of The Power of a Positive No, says, “No is the tension between exercising your power and tending to your relationship.”
Consideration of other people is necessary when contemplating your response to their request. There are consequences when you say both yes and no. But for empaths it is especially challenging because we tend to—unconsciously—overlegitimize other people’s point of view. We feel what they want from us, and it can be exceedingly difficult to extract their influence from our energy field so we can gauge our own response and not feel pressured by their desire for us to say yes. The most powerful tool I have found for creating that critical moment of separation is the pause.
The pause is simply that moment between someone requesting you to do something and your answer. Pausing—even just a few seconds—gives you time to collect yourself and choose a response instead of reacting unconsciously. Reactions often come from a place of fear. Responses come from a place of careful consideration.
For me, the pause is always accompanied by a deep breath. In this crucial moment, my observer awareness can then come in and remind me, “Hey, you don’t have to give this person a final answer right now.” It gives me those precious few seconds where I can call back any codependent energies that went shooting out to make the other person feel better and stay in a neutral place centered inside myself.
Asking for What You Need
Asking for what you need tends to be the next stage of development after getting comfortable with saying no, though they do progress simultaneously to a degree. Asking for what you need, however, requires that you know what it is you need in the first place!
As empaths, many of us have shut down our internal communication grid. As discussed in the first half of this book, there are many reasons why we lost this connection with ourselves. We were given messages when we were young that our sensitivities were not valued and therefore dismissed. We felt shame about our gifts. We experienced a great deal of rejection or ridicule, and it became a coping mechanism to just turn the faucet off.
We merged with others so well that we thought other people’s needs and wants were actually our own and, therefore, really had no idea what our own wants and needs were. Whatever the reason, the end result is that we have severed the connection between recognizing our needs and our ability to voice them.
The major task in learning to ask for what you need is getting back in touch with your own needs, preferences, desires, and personality. As you begin to experience yourself more powerfully—through saying no, activating your masculine to create safety, standing up for yourself, and speaking your truth—you will begin to reestablish your internal communication structure.
It will become easier for you to recognize when you need or want something. The next step is then having the courage to voice it. Again, this takes time and practice. There’s no right place to start. Just begin doing the work.
Losing Yourself in Relationships?
I must acknowledge the frequency with which we as empaths lose ourselves in relationships. Maintaining your sovereignty in relationships, especially romantic relationships, is tough.
Oftentimes the first step in establishing a boundary—the precursor, really—is to extract ourselves from the other person’s energy field. Because our nature is to merge and absorb, we must develop keen awareness so that we know exactly where our edges are. This is commonly referred to as knowing where you end and the next person begins.
Most of us have experienced no such thing. Me and you as distinct? Nope. There’s just us. And then, before you know it, you’re gone. Any semblance of your individual preferences, personality, and values has been absorbed into the entity called “us.”
It is so important to understand that every one of these skills (setting boundaries, saying no, asking for what you need, creating your own safety) takes practice, and you won’t get them overnight. But you will get them! Each one of us is ultimately responsible for our own energy field.
The romantic ideas of “you complete me” and being rescued by your one true love are—sorry—false and misleading. They perpetuate the myth that you are not enough, that you are not whole and complete unto yourself, and that you are somehow deficient and need the other to give you something you can’t give to yourself.
I’m not saying that when we are “evolved” we will no longer want or need to be in a relationship. Not true! However, when we can show up whole and complete unto ourselves, then we can experience love, sex, intimacy, and relationships in an entirely new way. When we are not projecting our unclaimed selves onto our partners, they are free to be who they are instead of feeling the pressure of who we need them to be.
We can truly revel in another person’s uniqueness and individuality without feeling like we need to change him or her. We’re not looking to a partner to heal us, fix us, make up for what our mother or father did or didn’t do, or compensate for the errors of our last partner.
All of the practices of saying no, asking for what you need, and speaking your truth will serve you in extracting yourself from the abyss of “other identification.” Up to this point you have probably been acting as the absentee ruler of your own domain. When you can reclaim your own center, sit in the seat of your own throne, and manage your kingdom from inside your own energy field, an entirely new experience of relationship will open up to you.
For some, it is easier to do our relationship work when we are single or in between relationships. This can create a sweet space of getting to know yourself—just yourself—without the temptation or distraction of a partner. Others work better in an “on-the-job” setting where they work through their issues while in relationship. Neither way is better and both have their challenges.
No matter what your relationship status, being an evolutionary empath is going to cause your soul to “call you on your stuff.” It is much easier to be an empath in a vacuum, but that’s the same as being a monk in a cave. If you came here to experience a physical existence, you cannot avoid interaction with other humans, and you must do your inner relationship work.
While I have been referring to romantic relationships, we also merge with parents, children, siblings, bosses, clients, and more. Everything I’ve said above applies. So doing your relationship work doesn’t just include your romantic partner, it includes every significant relationship you have.
This can be a lot to bite off altogether, so just chew on one piece at a time. Don’t choke yourself in overambition. Changes in relationships take time, and the other people need time to adjust, too.
The skills of saying no, asking for what you need, drawing boundaries, and creating your own safety are key tools in your Evolutionary Empath Tool Kit. These are competencies you will work on for the rest of your life.
Don’t get discouraged. Awareness is always the first step. Once you become aware of your unhealthy patterns, you can begin to transform them. Remember, too, that in this accelerated time, many of us are not doing the work just for ourselves; rather, we are transforming (and transmuting!) patterns for our families, communities, lineage, and planet.
As the one so the many; as the many so the one. Your empowerment as an evolutionary empath is contributing to more than just your own personal growth.
©2019 by Stephanie Red Feather. All Rights Reserved.
Excerpted with permission from The Evolutionary Empath.
Publisher: Bear and Co, a divn of Inner Traditions Intl
BearandCompanyBooks.com and InnerTraditions.com.
The Evolutionary Empath: A Practical Guide for Heart-Centered Consciousness
by Rev. Stephanie Red Feather
As an empath herself, Stephanie Red Feather has experienced firsthand the challenges of being extremely sensitive to subtle energies and the emotions of others. She knows that it can be overwhelming and cause you to lose yourself and doubt who you are. With this guide for anyone who’s ever felt out of place because of their sensitivity, Stephanie offers advice on how to manage life’s difficulties as an empath as well as insight into how these qualities are vitally important to the future of humanity. With this hands-on guide, Stephanie Red Feather provides empaths the tools they need to empower themselves and embrace their essential role in the next step of humanity’s evolution and ascension into the frequency of heart-centered consciousness. (Also available as a Kindle edition.)
About the Author
Rev. Stephanie Red Feather, Ph.D., is the founder and director of Blue Star Temple. An ordained shamanic minister, she holds a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and master’s and doctorate degrees in shamanic studies from Venus Rising University. She is also a mesa carrier in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition of Peru, having studied with Don Oscar Miro-Quesada and his lineage since 2005. Find out more about Stephanie at www.bluestartemple.org.
Video/Presentation with Stephanie Red Feather: Peek inside my book, The Evolutionary Empath
Peek inside the book, The Evolutionary Impact: #2 and #3