Our Real Work: Jess Ryan, MS

Coaching and consulting. Something's calling. It's your life.

Hey, empaths and healers, are you a groper?


Do you ever find yourself overloaded with other people’s emotions and feelings? Can you tell when family members are sad or about to burst into anger, even if they don’t say anything? Have you walked past someone in a grocery store and been able to tell that they carried grief, longing, abuse, or joy in their system—without ever exchanging words?

Hello, fellow empaths.

Now another question: when you know these things do you want to fix things or make it better? Maybe you even took a job—like a doctor or yoga teacher or therapist— that puts you in a position to help?

Hello, fellow helpers and healers.

We are well-intentioned folks. We’re hyper aware of other people’s baggage, we want to help heal others. We ask, “What’s wrong?” and “What can I help with?” (Is any of this sounding familiar?) We know there is something awonk with a person before that person actually knows there is something wrong.

Guess what? This can actually annoy the bejeebers out of other people. And it can wreak havoc in our own systems.

We need to stop groping other people. While we’re not physically feeling people up (I hope), we grope their energy. We assess what’s wrong on an energetic level and then try to fix it with our actions, questions, behaviors, and even our own energy. Think about that. Talk about invading personal {energetic} space.

Confession: I used to grope people’s energy. I didn’t know I was doing it. I thought I was being helpful and mitigating uncomfortable situations. Turns out, I was jumping in to rescue and heal people, because of my own discomfort. It wasn’t fair to the other person and I ended up carry a lot of burdens that weren’t mine to carry.

Now, I only check in with people’s energy systems if there are appropriate boundaries around it. Say, working with a client. They’ve given permission, and we’re working together toward healing. But, if I start covertly poking around in people’s systems because I walk into a party and I noticed something off with the person in the corner with the overly bright face? Not good, friend.

I know, we’re just trying to help.

It’s true, but without healthy boundaries we take on other people’s junk AND we take away the chance for our loved ones and friends to be with and heal their OWN stuff. Because, get this, we’re not going to heal anyone else. We’re not supposed to. We might hold a safe container, provide direction and support, but we CAN’T actually heal anyone else other than ourselves. When we try it leads to burnout, illness, depression, co-dependency, unhealthy relationships, and feelings of hopelessness, victimhood, and resentment.

Healthy boundaries teach you how to hear and honor yourself. When you can hear and know yourself from that authentic and aligned place THAT is where you truly hold space for the suffering in the world. You are solid and grounded enough to hold the container of healing space as a partner, parent, community-member, leader, healer. Healthy boundaries are about healing and helping––yourself and the world.

So fellow empaths, healers, and helpers, take some time to turn your attention to yourself. Are you boundaries clear and healthy—not too flimsy, not too rigid? Are they aligned in all areas: physical, relational, emotional, energetic, and spiritual?

I’m guessing the answer is no (myself included somedays––boundaries are a practice.) Most people could use healthier boundaries, and if you have them, it’s good to check in from time to time and see if you need a tune up.

Focus on you (no, it’s not selfish)

One of the first steps to better boundaries is awareness. So try these two exercises to check in with yourself.

  • Identify three ways you can increase your self-awareness. (Journaling, stopping to breath and check in with your body for 5 minutes a day, meditation, yoga.) Schedule a few minutes EVERYDAY, over the next week developing greater self-awareness and jot down your observations.
  • For 24 hours notice how you act, and whether it’s the same or different, around all of your peers, co-workers, strangers, family members, etc. Simply notice. Afterward, reflect on what you discover.

Then take some time to ground yourself. Literally feel your feet on the ground. Close your eyes if that’s comfortable or go into soft focus and feel the physical presence of your body. Notice your breath. Start taking slow deep breaths in and out through nose, feel the belly expand. Practice this for a moment or two throughout the day, perhaps when you feel ungrounded or noticing yourself groping—or at certain times, just to remind yourself to come back to your own body, your own person, your own self.


My online, self-paced, boundaries course will be opening up soon to help you develop healthier boundaries. Stop taking on other people’s junk and start helping and healing from a place of groundedness. Sign up here and you’ll be among the first to know when the course opens and you’ll also receive a special discount: 

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  1. Hi, Jess, I will be watching and maybe encourage my new set of interns to do this, depending on the cost.

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