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  • Writer's pictureTricia Thornton

Hula Hoop Boundaries: Learning to Keep your Power Within Your Hoop

What in the world do I mean by "hula hoop boundaries"? Most of us remember trying to keep the hula hoop up around our waist as we laughed and giggled with our friends. The key was to not move your hips too much or it would drop to the floor. But, you were tempted to move a lot more than necessary. It takes just a bit of too much movement to send the hoop to our feet. To be honest, I was never the greatest at keeping it spinning around and around. It is a learned skill that most of us had to practice often to even have a chance to keep the hoop up. Well, guess what, hula hoop boundaries are the same! They take lots of practice to be able to understand the art of keeping your hula hoop in place around you at all times.

Let's take a second to understand the definition of boundaries. Boundaries are often thought of as fences or property lines. They can sometimes be confused with limits. If you put in place a schedule for your child to only have 30 minutes a time on their electronics, that refers to setting a limit. A boundary is better thought of as where you end and another begins. There are physical boundaries and emotional boundaries. When I am explaining the hula hoop boundaries, I am more referring to the emotional side, not the physical. Yes, we all have a physical "ring" around us that everyone ought to respect. I decide when and who is allowed to come in my space to physically touch me. We also all have an emotional circle around us that others should respect as well. However, often, we actually take the hula hoop down and then others can come right into our emotional space. There are certainly times even if we have our hoop in place, others will come barreling right in. Then, we get to choose how to react to their invasion. We may not be able to dictate another's actions or words, but we can exercise our freedom and choose how to react.

Now, I want to go back to the idea about our choice to take down our emotional hula hoop boundary. A very important concept to grasp is that no one can take down your boundary but you. Let me repeat that in another way; you are the only person that can choose to let your hula hoop fall to the ground. Do you remember saying above that learning how to better your skills at keeping the hula hoop from falling takes effort and time. Most individuals did not come out of the womb natural hula hoopers. We also did not naturally come out of the womb ready to keep our boundaries in place. God certainly wired our brains to be able to steady our hoops; however, God did give us free will to make choices. So, we have to choose to exercise our boundary muscles and learn to keep the hula hoop steadily spinning around.

Here is a video of me explaining this idea a bit more by showing you the visual of the hula hoop:

To better understand these concepts, let's look at a few scenarios:

Scenario #1: Honoring an emotional boundary as a parent. Diana comes home from a long day at the office. It is a Friday at 6pm, and her 14 year old daughter would like to go to her friend's house. She comes in and asks her mother to take her in 5 minutes or so. IF Diana was to take her hula hoop down, this is how the scene would play out. She would huff and puff and probably say something under her breath like, "Gosh, no one gets how tired I am or how my day was at the office." She would also roll her eyes and/or make some less than subtle sigh. However, the mother would begrudgingly say, "Sure, I guess I can run over there and then eat. I have had a really long day, but fine." The ride over would certainly not be the most pleasant because she would be feeling frustrated that she always has to meet her child's needs first.

IF Diana was to honor her emotional boundary, the scene would play out differently. Diana's daughter would still come in and ask for a ride to her friend's house pretty much right after Diana walked in from a long day at the office. The mother would choose to look at her empathetically and say something like, "I hear and see that you wish to go to her house really soon. I know it is important to you to get there and start the movie. I will definitely take you; however, I need to sit and eat something and have 20 minutes or so to unwind a bit. Then, I will certainly take you." Her daughter may not be thrilled, but because Diana has modeled boundaries before, she would understand however maybe with a bit of an eye roll (I mean she is a 14 year old teenager in an egocentric stage of development). However, the ride over would be be much more pleasant and they may even have fun dancing and laughing to some music.

Scenario #2: Honoring an emotional boundary as a co-worker. Sherry walks into the office from the weekend. It is her co-worker's birthday coming up on Thursday night. There is already a buzz around the office about when to all go out to celebrate. One of the co-workers who is the office "party planner" comes in with all sorts of ideas and plans. She has not hesitated to survey any of the others' thoughts or possible options. IF Sherry was to take her hula hoop down, the scenario would play out as such. She would look at the party planner co-worker and not say a word. Sherry sees her co-worker's excitement about all the ideas, so because Sherry doesn't want to hurt her feelings or ruffle any feathers, she just smiles and agrees to go to the more expensive sushi restaurant and to go to the comedy club show that does not even start until 9:00pm. Sherry knows, however, that her meeting with the department execs is at 8:00am on Friday (the next day).

IF Sherry was to honor her emotional boundary, this is how the scenario would look. She would say something like, "Wow, those plans sound like so much fun! I am really looking forward to celebrating. Thank you for taking time to put all this together. I am realizing that my big meeting starts at 8am the next day. I am excited to go to dinner, but I will have to skip out on the club." Sherry not only is taking care of herself by not being out as late, but she is also choosing to be more mindful of her finances. She won't mind spending more at dinner, if she doesn't go out to spend more for the cover for the comedy club, not to mention more for parking or for another uber.

Scenario #3: Honoring an emotional boundary as a daughter. Christmas is coming up soon. Barb's mother has been planning for the last several months for all of her brothers and sisters to come in town for all the hometown festivities. She is the only sibling that is single and does not have children at this time. Her sister's children are quite a handful and she needs to lean on her mother for a lot of help, especially for her month old baby. Barb's brother's new wife is lovely, yet, she is quite picky when it comes to places to stay. She feels most comfortable at the mother's home. So, Barb's mother calls her to inform that her sister is going to need to stay in the guest room with the attached bath. Her brother is going to need to stay in the guest house that has recently been renovated. Because Barb's mother knows it is just her, she tells Barb she needs to stay on the pull out couch in the family room or put an air mattress in the office. IF Barb chose to take down her emotional boundary, she would respond like, "Mom, I am so excited about the holidays! I can't wait to see everyone. Okay, I don't want to be a burden. It is just me, so you just put me anywhere you like. I have been a bit tired, but really I don't want to be in the way, so just put me where you want." Barb would hang up the phone and feel defeated again. She would feel that just because she is not married and doesn't have children yet, she is not as important. Barb would go into the holidays with a negative outlook rather than looking forward to her family being together.

IF Barb was to honor her emotional boundary, her response would be as such. Barb's mother would still call with all the same requests and plans. However, Barb would say, "Mom, I am so excited for the holidays! I cannot wait to spend quality time with everyone. Because I want to be alert and rested and be at my best to help you with the meals, etc, I am choosing to book a room at the inn down the road. I have already called and they have a room available. I will be able to stay until bedtime, so I will not miss out on any of the traditions and festivities. I can even come over in my PJ's and be there when all get up to celebrate." She would then be going into the holidays feeling that she is honoring herself as well as being available to spend time with her family.

How do our emotional boundaries and our personal True power relate? By honoring our emotional hula hoop boundary, we are protecting our personal power. Remember we are the only ones who can choose to take our hula hoop down or let it just fall to the floor. We all have been given a gift of having a power within us that makes us unique and worthy. God has made us all special and has given us the ability to have a personal power that allows us to be still and balanced. We get to choose how to connect with others as we honor ourselves. When we take our hula hoop down, we are basically like a bug on a back with its legs wiggling in the air. So, when we choose to keep our hula hoop spinning around, then we are the ones in charge of our power.

When I refer to our True power, I am referring to our power within which makes up our True Self. Meister Eckhart was a 14th century priest who lays out in several sermons his thoughts about our "true seed" within us. Matthew Fox interprets many of Eckhart's messages in a book called Breakthrough. In one of his sermons, Eckhart explains that our true seed as the living presence of God's image implanted in our soul. "There is something in the soul which is only God." (Breakthrough, p. 103) To be clear, he was not saying that our soul is God, but that God embodies the soul. Sue Monk Kidd in her book, When the Heart Waits, says, "the soul is the holy soil in which the divine life of God is planted for us to cultivate and experience....The True Self wants to bloom and grow....The soul-work involved in this internal restructuring is, I believe, the deepest meaning of spiritual becoming." (When the Heart Waits, p. 47-53)

In conclusion, in order for us to honor our emotional boundaries or as I have stated, our hula hoop boundary, we must do our own "soul-work". If we are to transform into our True Self, that power that is God-given, must be protected. You can think of keeping your hula hoop in tact as putting on your spiritual armor. In Ephesians 6, the apostle Paul, outlines how we can choose to put on the armor of God. In order to withstand the daggers that can come our way, your armor will withstand the attacks. However, do remember you are the only one that can choose to let the hula hoop fall. So, why not strive daily to keep your eye on the prize and defend your True Self by filling your bucket in order for you to shine and fill another's bucket.

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