How To Create Stable Boundaries And Prevent Burnout


Photo©Lindsay Helms/123rf

Have you survived the world trauma of the last three years, but now you feel tired and worn out? Have you gotten creative, been resilient, and really stepped up to help humanity in ways large and small, but it feels endless?

Conscious awareness that some problems are not yours, and there’s only so much you can do, is not enough to protect you emotionally or energetically. To be really effective, you need to install 100% boundaries at the conscious, unconscious, body, and soul levels of your being.

When boundaries are 100% intact at all levels, it strengthens a person’s sense of identity, i.e., I am me, and you are you. This is where I begin and end; this is where you begin and end. You don’t pick up negativity from the environment, and you don’t project your negativity inappropriately. Intact boundaries create the capacity for respect and teamwork, i.e., the ability to invite people onto a neutral dance floor to dance with you.

Think Of Yourself As A Cell

To take an analogy from cell biology, think of yourself as a cell floating in a nutritious liquid medium. Cells have a membrane composed of a lipids. Since lipids are fats, and oil and water don’t mix, the liquid medium can’t just pass through the lipid membrane.

Cells get what they need from the environment by pumping in nutrients and pumping out waste products through specific receptors and channels, proteins that completely span the membrane. Transport is thus selective, and requires energy to pump things in and out. If there is a hole in the membrane the insides pour out, the outside pours in, and the cell dies.

Cells communicate with each other through message molecules on their surface or by releasing soluble factors (like hormones) that fit into receptor molecules on the surface of the other cells like a lock and key. When the key opens the lock, it triggers an internal cascade of messages that go to the nucleus. If the cell is ruptured, the signaling molecules get scrambled and no longer work in the right sequence. Thus, all successful interactions with the environment and each other are done at the surface of the (100% intact) cell membrane.

People Without Intact Boundaries Are At The Mercy Of The Environment

How does this apply to boundary issues in human beings? If people have less than 100% intact boundaries at all levels, they are very exposed. As the environment diffuses in, they are at the mercy of what’s going on around them.

They are not at choice about what they take in, and can take in negative energy from the environment that they can’t process. People who have very little boundary capabilities can have trouble making decisions for themselves and may depend too much on other people’s opinions. They have trouble living their own lives, asking for what they want, and acting in their own best interest.

A Wall Is Not A Boundary; It Is A Traumatic Wound

When people are too easily influenced, they lose their sense of their own identity. In reaction, they may wall off and isolate themselves, emotionally or even physically. Unfortunately, a wall is not a boundary because it does not permit a flow of information. A wall indicates a traumatic wound, and like a scab on the skin, does not breathe or sweat the way healthy skin does.

The energy flow through a boundary breach can also move outward as people diffuse out into their environment. People who think that merging with someone is a form of love, or control freaks who believe that theirs’ is the only reality or the only right way to do things are leaking out past their own boundaries. Energy leakage in any direction can lead to burnout.

The Boundary Tap Technique

What can you do to maintain energetic boundaries at the conscious, unconscious, body, and soul levels in a given context? The Boundary Tap was developed by Marie Louise Muller, a craniosacral therapist from California. To use this technique, tap approximately 2-3 minutes with your fingertips on the sternum, the bone in the middle of your chest.

Alternate the tapping with a feathering motion from the sternum up the base of the throat, up the neck, out the chin (like the Italian “back at you” gesture.) The tapping seals the energetic boundary, and the feathering motion ejects any unwanted negative energy.

Use it to install boundaries with bad news and trauma. Use it to install responsibility, compassion, and empathy boundaries so you don’t take on other peoples’ problems or negative energy. Use it to hold your center when you’re with your family, in your relationships, and at work.

Use it to set boundaries with authorities, specific individuals, and other peoples’ expectations. Use it to set boundaries when people do obnoxious behaviors that you particularly hate or with people who particularly annoy you.

Use it in every situation you can think of that is not personal but feels personal. To quote Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true.”

Best-selling author and award-winning mind/body therapist Judith A. Swack, PhD, originator of Healing From the Body Level Up™ (HBLU) methodology, is a biochemist/immunologist, Master NLP practitioner, certified hypnotherapist, visionary and leader in the field of energy psychology. Dr. Swack has presented her dramatic results live on television and at international conferences. She has a private practice in Needham, MA. Visit

Meet Dr. Swack in person for her one-hour workshop Create Stable Boundaries and Prevent Burnout at the Natural Living Expo on Saturday, Nov 12, 2022 at 10:30.

Find New England holistic Emotional Freedom Technique practitioners in the Spirit of Change online directory.