Distance for Self-Protection

Some of us need to protect ourselves from other people’s problems and personalities, and that’s okay.

There are certain people who are empathetic to the point that they find it difficult to maintain boundaries between other people’s emotions and their own. They feel other people’s problems as if they are theirs as well. Depending on how these feelings manifest, are processed, and managed, this can either be a powerful tool by which to serve others or it can be like poison, eating the person alive from the inside out.

In order to not be totally overwhelmed by other people’s emotions, whether positive or negative, it is important for these people to learn how to manage physical space and distance for themselves. In order to maintain their own emotional and psychological integrity, they must, at times, distance themselves from certain people and situations, lest they lose sight of who they are and become overwhelmed by their surroundings.

These people are the types who, if they are not careful, will willingly, even if sometimes unknowingly, sacrifice their lives, their health, and their best interests for the sake of serving the emotional, physical, and psychological needs of those around them. Obviously, such loving service is necessary to the world, as long as it is healthy. Since not all relationships are healthy, however, for their own emotional, physical, and mental well-being, such empathic people must take caution with regards to who they associate with, where, and for how long.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.

Artwork by Ana, except where otherwise noted.

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