Boundaries, empathy, connection and seeing clearly

A friend recently sent me this poem that he found on a wall…


To see each other clearly, allow space to be, listen allow and smile, unearthing internal lies….

This for me captures the alchemy of relating, of presence one to another. What do we need to support this clear vision, this ability to let the other be and to bear witness to the internal beliefs that cloud our vision of them?

There is a paradox at the heart of it all which the image in the poem captures beautifully – we are separate branches in the same tree. How to hold the apparent paradox of interbeing and healthy boundaries was a question raised today in one of my communities, and it is one which has been present for me in several different conversations and contexts over the last couple of weeks.

As a highly empathic person, It can happen that I become so attuned to the experience of another that I enter into it energetically and almost exit my own. For me boundaries are the tools of time and space physicality which I use to meet the needs which support my energy levels, emotional and psychological clarity and connection to myself.

When these things are taken care of and my boundaries are clearly asserted and held, I can be open and fully empathically present to others without needing to guard my energy or personal space. My boundaries allow me to be more open. If my energy is depleted, or my mind and emotions are chaotic and I don’t take the space I need to restore balance and to process my experience, then my capacity to stay in my own centre is less and I will shut down compassion and empathy to others around me until I am able to reconnect with myself.

This for me highlights the difference between boundaries and disconnection. I can hold a boundary without disconnecting from you. I am more likely to disconnect if I have no boundary in place to meet the needs which support me to stay in connection.

Exploring the role of boundaries in relationship I have noticed that they also create greater intimacy. The presence of boundaries creates a safety which supports vulnerability, depth and risk taking within the held structure that we provide for each other.

Boundaries also provoke challenge and testing, and how we respond to that can be a real area of growth between two people also. Boundaries which are very rigid may suggest the presence of fear, whereas boundaries which are open for revision as the needs of individuals evolve can signify the presence of a growing mutual trust and respect, with enough safety to be allow some fluidity.

I enjoyed this insightful blog by a friend on the topic which relates particularly to children but holds universal wisdom. Also this video which was shared today in my community. This is a live inquiry for me and my experience of boundaries is an active growth area which feels very rich right now.

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