The reason most Empaths suffer as they do is because they have no boundaries, poor boundaries, never even heard of boundaries, or they fail to enforce the boundaries that they have.
Your boundaries are about your sense of self. Your friends, family, and society may have their own ideas about what your boundaries should and should not include. Family is notorious for enmeshing themselves into our lives. They think families are exempt from boundaries, they can come over or call all hours of the day or night, ask for any and everything, and that you are obligated to oblige - because you're family.
Only you can know what your boundaries are by listening to how you feel. Your emotions will tell you whether your boundaries have been violated. You have to draw your own lines. Create your sense of self apart from other people.
Establish perimeters. For example, these are the hours of the day I can communicate. You may not talk to me like this. This is the day you can come over. You may not come over unannounced. You may not borrow my things without permission. This is how much money I can loan you at this time but I need it back on this date. I cannot work for you on the weekends or holidays.
The word no forms boundaries. Use it freely and often. See how many times you can work it into an answer until you get it down to just one forceful definitive NO.
You fail to enforce your boundaries when:
Empaths are sensitive people. It's hard to see other people struggle or be in distress. We genuinely want to help other. But sometimes helping others comes at the expense of our own health, well-being, and happiness. If we're constantly doing for others, we're neglecting ourselves and going to get run down and burnt out. You have to put your own oxygen mask on first.
There is a light aspect to helping others and there is a shadow side. To see which side you are operating from you must consider why you want to help someone.
Do you want to help someone because it feels good?
Do you want to help someone so you don't get made to feel bad or rejected for not helping?
When it's the shadow side of helping that is emerging, it's time to enforce the boundaries. It's ok to say no.
Many of us have been conditioned to believe that saying no or not helping out when we are able, is being selfish.
(Funny how people are quick to call someone selfish for not doing what they want us to do to please them. Yet we're the selfish one.)
Selfishness has one of the most negative connotations.
When we do things we don't want to do, we are energetically assaulting ourselves, and for what? To be liked? To keep the peace?
Love yourself enough not to be liked. Don't allow someone to boss you around. Make your health and your happiness your priority. Preserving your health and happiness is all the reason in the world to say no to something.
Anyone who ridicules or shames you for taking care of yourself is not someone worth helping.
Remember that NO is a complete sentence!