There are many different types of boundaries — physical, emotional, and energetic are just a few. This article, written by Rev. Connie L. Habash, MA, LMFT, explains how we can use the concept of “Me/Not-Me” to create emotional boundaries that protect our energy and help us preserve our sense of self, rather than becoming entangled in other people’s beliefs, feelings, and problems.
This concept is especially useful to those who tend to people-please, have codependent traits, are empaths, or are highly sensitive. I hope you’ll find it helpful!
Ever had this experience youre having a great day, feeling just fine, and suddenly you feel like crap? What happened? Where did those upsetting emotions come from? Well, its possible they may not have come from you!
All of us have had the experience of being affected by someone elses emotions. We know what its like to be around someone who is in a fit of rage, and it isnt pleasant. Weve probably also experienced being in the presence of another who is in the depths of despair. It can be uncomfortable and awkward; but more than that, emotions can be contagious. Even the ecstatic joy of someone getting married can uplift us as much as a friends depression can dampen our mood.
Occasionally, we experience more than just picking up on someone elses emotions: we may feel that weve absorbed them like a sponge. This isnt limited to feelings, either; if someone elses beliefs, opinions, or ideas are strong and persistent, we may unconsciously take on the stress, attitudes, and perspectives of another.
If you have challenges setting boundaries, are codependent, or are a highly sensitive person, you may find it particularly difficult to deal with other people who have intense emotions, opinions, or just a strong presence. It may be challenging to discern what is really you and what is someone elses influence on you. You might find yourself feeling overwhelmed, invaded, angry, or confused at the incoming energy of their mental or emotional stuff.
Ringing any bells? If so, its time to explore a whole new awareness of boundaries. Setting boundaries isnt just about speaking your truth or establishing limits. It necessitates a more subtle, different kind of awareness.
That awareness is described by a practice known as Me/Not-Me that I learned years ago while studying Bioenergetics. This is a method of separating out your own energy, emotions, and thoughts from anyone elses. It is declaring a boundary around your sense of self and maintaining it.
Think of yourself as a house. Your home is your personal space: you wouldnt allow anyone to just waltz right in, would you? How would you feel if someone simply walked right through your front door, over to your refrigerator and starting eating your food? Bathing in your tub? No way, you say! But when we arent maintaining our own personal energetic space, we allow others thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and influence to overrun ours, and we feel similarly invaded and confused.
Me/Not-Me helps you declare your own personal, energetic space, and keeps out what isnt yours. When you practice Me/Not-Me, youll tend to feel more safe, stable, and strong in almost every situation. It prevents the tendency to take on the emotional content from others, clarifies your own thoughts and feelings, and allows you to respond to relationships more effectively. It will also support you in creating overt boundaries, such as setting limits, because youll feel clear about who you are and what you stand for.
A great description of Me/Not-Me can be found in The 5 Personality Patterns by Steven Kessler, but here is a simple practice to get you started:
- Sit or stand quietly in a safe place where you can be alone. Close your eyes.
- Say your name to yourself. Feel the sense of Me (i.e., you) when you say it. Attune to the feeling of being truly yourself.
- Imagine a circle of light around you, in any color, about two to three feet in all directions. This serves as your energetic boundary. Declare to yourself and the Universe that the space inside this is your space; for you alone. Anything that is Not-Me is not permitted entry into this space, and needs to stay outside of the circle.
- Say your name again a few times, and clear out anything Not-Me from your personal space. You can imagine it leaving in any way you wish; I like to visualize grey smoke blowing away, leaving my space clear.
- Then, when you are out and about around other people, regularly declare your Me/Not-Me by visualizing your energetic boundary, and that other peoples energies bounce off it. You can meet their thoughts, feelings, and emotions with understanding and compassion out at the edge of your space in your imagination, but their energy isnt allowed entry!
It takes practice, but if you work with this a while, you will find that youre less affected by other peoples psychological issues, and you stand more steady and clear in knowing who you truly are.
About the author:
Rev. Connie L. Habash, MA, LMFT, is passionate about spiritual awakening in everyday life. She brings together body, mind, heart and spirit as an ordained Interfaith Minister, Yoga and meditation teacher, and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, with a practice in Menlo Park, CA. Find more inspiration by Rev. Connie on her website, AwakeningSelf.com andher Facebook page.
Copyright 2017 by Rev. Connie L. Habash Photo by Richard Jaimes via Unsplash.com