Empaths and Boundaries
Perspective played a big role into being able to create boundaries. Once I learned how to view MY problems as different from OTHERS' problems, things got easier.
I had to tell myself (and then internally enforce) that my feelings were mine to deal with. And others' feelings were mine to try to understand as I chose, but never to take on.
You don't have to choose between listening to somebody and being their for them emotionally, and being cold to them. You can listen and let somebody know you understand and care, without taking on the burden of their emotions.
What worked for me was opening myself up to feeling what they felt on a level that let me understand, but not being so open that I allowed myself to be so consumed by their pain.
This took a lot of meditation and counseling. I learned how to feel what they felt, but a THEIR emotions, not my own. And then I educated myself on how to talk through a crisis scenario with a person to help them deal with THEIR OWN emotions, and then deal with my own emotions seperately.