A neurologically and psychologically normal and healthy infant and mother pair are naturally empathic. That is, they each feel the other’s feelings. A mother—again, a neurologically and psychologically normal mother—is biologically attuned to her infant; her infant is attuned to her. This is how nature causes a red, squalling, smelly little creature to get its needs met by someone who, temporarily, thinks they are precious.
It may be that we naturally grow out of that more acute attunement—or it may be that we are conditioned out of it. Even so, some of us retain that empathic nature. We can make wonderful partners, we often become healers in one form or another, or we become simply really well-attuned co-dependents.
Empaths benefit from developing greater sensitivity to what they are feeling. This may seem counterproductive since they are feeling their feelings as well as the feelings of others. But taking time to feel—truly feel the physical sensations they are feeling—allows an empath to begin to discern the feelings that are theirs and the feelings that belong to someone else. Once an empath is able to discern the difference—or even be able to be curious about whose feelings they are experiencing—they can begin to set boundaries.
A simple boundary is just the awareness of where the empath begins—in their core—and where they end—at the far reaches of their personal energy field. The next step is to notice the near end of the energy field where another begins. The empath may be able to feel the other’s core, as well.