If you worry a lot, like I tend to do, I have a fun trick to share. It works great for reminding us of our boundaries and can center your thoughts quickly.
Remember hula hoops? I could never hula hoop for long, but every once in a while, I would do pretty good. By pretty good, I mean that I could keep the hula hoop above my hips for a maximum of 15 seconds 😂.
Besides how fun and challenging a hula hoop can be, it can also serve as a reminder for what we can control. Imagine standing with a hula hoop around your waist. There is a nice space between the hula hoop and your body. That space, and everything else inside that hula hoop is what you can control. Nothing else.
So, what's in your hula hoop?
Ask yourself if what you are worried about is one of these things. If not, it is not something you can control.
What's outside of your hula hoop?
Other people's opinions
Other people's actions
What we eat, what we watch, whether we go to church, political beliefs, how we raise our children - those are all things inside our hula hoops. In establishing boundaries, we need to ensure that we are not dictating to other people about things inside their hula hoops. So, if someone does not raise their child the way you think they should - that is not something you should create a boundary around. That's in their hula hoop and it's protected territory.
Likewise, if someone criticizes you on something inside your hula hoop - it is your responsibility to call them on it. Be kind and respectful and share, "That's how I chose to live my life, so let's talk about something else.". It closes the door on that conversation and allows you to protect your hula hoop space. If you don't protect your space, you will likely feel resentment, anger, and frustration. Anything inside your hula hoop is free game for boundary setting.
The purpose of boundaries is to let others know that their behaviors impact us. They are a sign of respect for the relationship and if communicated correctly, can greatly improve a relationship.
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Only that which is in your hula hoop is what you have control over. Next time someone frustrates you or you find yourself feeling worried, ask yourself it is something inside your hula hoop. Keep practicing this until it becomes second nature.
What someone thinks about you is none of your business - it's not part of your hula hoop. Someone else's judgements about you - not in your hula hoop either.
To communicate a boundary to a loved one, frame it as follows "When you do (BEHAVIOR), I feel (REACTION). Can I ask you to (CHANGE you are requesting)?". So, if you have a friend that is constantly criticizing your food choices and it really hurts your feelings, you could say, "Lisa, I really enjoy our friendship and I like spending time together (keep it positive). But, sometimes you make fun of what I eat and it really hurts my feelings. It makes me feel like I'm not good enough. Could you please not comment on my food choices?". Hopefully Lisa will be responsive. Many times the people we love are vastly unaware of how their comments can hurt us and bringing it to their attention is all that is needed.
Practice the hula hoop tool this week and let me know how it goes! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment.
The hula hoop analogy is a Smart Recovery tool. Check out Smart Recovery here: https://www.smartrecovery.org/