Ursa Swensen and I are part of George Kao's authentic business mentoring group Masterheart 2020, and through our interactions we have gotten to know each others' gifts more clearly. It's so wonderful that we both identify as Empaths / Sensitives too!
She was just recently featured in my previous blog post, where I analyzed her Human Design chart to describe her natural energetic gifts, and challenges that she has overcome as an Empowered Empath. Ursa has three Open Centers in her Throat, Identity (G), and Will Centers.
I am also really excited to know that she is currently doing a pre-launch of her newest course on Boundary Basics. Honestly I am pretty weak in setting boundaries, and I know that it is really common for Sensitives / Empaths (whom I notice seem to have three or more Open Centers in their Human Design Charts) to be resistant to setting healthy boundaries. So I thought it would be great to have her share with us how setting healthy boundaries has helped her manage her Sensitivity better through her Open Centers. Here are the four basic questions (denoted in Q) that I asked:
Q1: You shared that healthy boundaries were not modeled in your home when you were growing up. Was there any particular person you modeled after in setting healthy boundaries?
As a sensitive person, I tended to accommodate others without them actually asking for that accommodation, I sensed what I felt that they needed and acted accordingly. I grew up in a home where I always very aware of my father and what his mood may be. I took on the responsibility for his emotions even though this was not my role. This had become natural to me so I continued to behave that way as an adult.
Now that I understand it better, I realize that I was unconsciously reading the energy of the situation and acting from there. It was a coping mechanism that I had finely honed to keep myself safe. What this meant was that I was always trying to keep everyone else happy through what I thought would make them happy. Not only did I not always 'guess' what would make someone happy, but it also exhausted me to the point of burnout because I was so busy keeping others happy, I wasn't taking care of myself. Further, I was relieving others of the responsibility of meeting their own needs, or of asking for their needs to be met because I was so busy anticipating them. It's no wonder I burned out!
I didn't really see healthy boundaries that were set distinctly until I worked with my mentor, Merja Sumiloff. Because I was in her training program and we covered boundaries, we talked about them, she would mention why she said a certain thing in a certain way. There was a lot of very deliberate conversation around boundaries because it is such an important and foundational topic. I think because of my 'obliviousness' to what healthy boundaries really were and how they were communicated, I really needed to see good boundary setting modeled in a way that was both firm and consistent, but also honoring of all of the people who were involved.
Q2: From a Human Design perspective, which Open Center felt the most challenging to cope with prior to your intentional setting of boundaries, and how did you feel this practice has improved your experience of that Energy Center?
I'd have to say my identity (G) center - because I was always so willing to chameleon myself into whatever the situation called for. My priority was safety and I would become whoever I needed to be to achieve safety. Because of this, I didn't really feel like I knew who I was because I was whoever suited the situation.
Because I now have the ability to set boundaries - to use them as a tool to express who I am and what I want, that is helping me to maintain my sense of self. I'm still a very flexible and accommodating person, but I can use a boundary statement when needed to keep myself energetically intact. I'm not giving away all of my self to others anymore. I can now decide IF I want to give of my energy towards another person and how much is OK to give and still retain enough for myself and what I want to do in my life.
Q3: Do you feel that the practice of setting boundaries has helped you harness your gifts in being a Sensitive more effectively? Can you elaborate?
I feel that I'm definitely a happier and more sustainable Sensitive now that I have boundaries as a tool available. As a Sensitive, it is still possible to set boundaries in a kind and gentle way.
I feel there is more of me to give because I'm not wasting my energy anticipating and fulfilling what I think others may need, instead I just lean back and wait to see if they ask me to do something for them. Then, when there is an actual request, I can decide whether or not it feels appropriate for me to do that thing or not. If I choose not to do it, it may be because either I need that energy for myself, or perhaps it would better serve the other person to learn to do it for themselves.
Often with my children (ages 19 - 7), I'll agree to do something alongside them, rather than taking it on. In time they realize that they're capable of handling it for themselves. (Of course this looks much, much different according to the age of the child and as they grow more capable I become less helpful!)
Q4: How would a Sensitive who's constantly feeling overwhelmed know which boundaries she/he should start setting first?
I would suggest starting with some smaller things first, especially for a Sensitive who may not be used to speaking up, saying no or making their needs known. Even to the point of practicing stating a boundary statement out loud when no one is around, just to get used to speaking those words. Eventually it will come up in your mind in the moment when it needs to and you'll be able to express it. Don't expect that you'll get it perfect right away, it takes practice to become masterful at any skill. The important thing is to get started on the journey!
Thank you Ursa for your wonderful sharing! I find that most of us are aware of the need to set healthy boundaries as a way to protect and manage our Sensitivity, but many of us find it difficult to start practising healthy boundaries!
Bingz Huang - Gentleness Coach + Intuitive Healer