Empathetic Boundaries

I hear a lot of people in my clinic feel that they are too empathetic. They can feel the other person’s discomfort or pain and just want it to go away. 

This is the result of a high level of emotional enmeshment. Emotional enmeshment is when personal boundaries are unclear, when one becomes emotional the other does too. Often happiness is dependent on the happiness of the other person and the security of the relationship. If this is under threat both people become reactive and unsettled and experience extreme anxiety.

It is easy to feel we have ‘too much empathy’ when our boundaries are being walked all over.

For example:

You have a partner who you know is struggling with depression. They want to stay home with you all the time and don’t like you to go out without them because they feel insecure. You feel their pain and fear and you love them, so you stay home with them a lot and stop going out with your friends. When you talk about going out with friends, they become sulky and withdrawn.

Over time you become resentful. You think ‘I feel too much empathy for their situation’. What is actually going on here is a boundary issue. 


Read some of my earlier posts on boundaries and assertiveness.

Do you relate to this issue of having ‘too much empathy’ as really being a boundary issue? Does this resonate?

Love Jen


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