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  • Robyn Penney

Reframing Boundaries The HSP Way

It is so often said that Highly Sensitive People (HSP) struggle to maintain boundaries. But why?

I remember Rose’s words as we made our way through the streets of Seville. An outgoing HSP, Rose’s sense of adventure and uncanny ability to find the party were matched by a gift for deep conversation. So when I brought up my plan to visit the cathedral that afternoon, the talk turned easily to personal beliefs. She said:

“Connection is my religion.”

There it is: HSPs are master connectors. They are known for wonderful abilities to empathize, to hold space for others, and even, in moments of spiritual uplift, to feel that great, unifying force – the sense that we are but a drop in a vast ocean of universe. It does not necessarily mean that they seek the company of others – after all, most HSPs are introverts. But whether it be through a person, purpose or ideal, many highly sensitives are highly attuned to world around them.


The very word boundary signals that we are bound by our personal limits, physically or otherwise. When we think “boundary,” we may think of limitations, separations, withdrawal behind a wall or closed door.

HSPs, by contrast, instinctively crave the boundless energy of union. But though we are immersed in the ocean, the fact remains that whatever we do begins from within the drop.

What would boundaries look like if they were replaced by more HSP-friendly terms?

Some alternative names for boundary-setting:

  • Protection – of the self, our values, our bodies

  • Affirmation – of our uniqueness, our beliefs, our strivings

  • Balance – between what comes in and what goes out (recall the natural principle of homeostasis)

  • Humility – the admission that I am but one imperfect person, and can only do so much

  • Justice – never asking one person to be or do more than they can

  • Self-care – maintenance of physical, psychic and spiritual well-being

  • Respect, honor, integrity – for the good that we know we can bring to the world, when we feel right