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The Bubble Mentality


Control what you let in your bubble.


During the primitive aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA and WNBA demonstrated the ability to create an environment in a short amount of time, so that their players can succeed in finishing the season. Although professional basketball leagues embody a different culture than other leading sports systems, like the NFL and college football/sports, I question if other leagues were even open to learning from what the WNBA and NBA did to adopt healthy, practical solutions.


The whole bubble metaphor reminds me of our own bubbles. We have to be mindful of what voices we let in, what feelings of others penetrate our emotional capacity, what thoughts and ideas we allow to take root within us. The bubble was just a metaphor for boundary. Boundaries are the rules, the systems, the standards that we get to choose that keep us safe, that allow us to have fun and enjoy, that provide us with the ability to grow and learn. Boundaries are lines we create to distinguish who we are from others and the rest of the world. Boundaries define how we interact with others and the world around us.Healthy boundaries help us run our own race in our own lane while providing healthy access when necessary and limiting the potential power of unhealthy interference.


You get to choose your boundaries.


Lessons on boundaries can be taught early, but those lessons are often undervalued until one finds their voice or one experiences pain. Sometimes boundaries are undervalued until we learn and find clarity in our identity and values through learning what we will NOT tolerate and what we will accept. After learning these lessons, we then have to learn to be open to lessons on different types of boundaries (ie. time, sexual, physical, emotional, mental, and financial boundaries) and on different boundary structures (ie. rigid/inflexible, flexible, loose, nonexistent). Often times boundaries of any extreme (rigid or nonexistent) are initially created from what we have been taught, and sometimes from our pain or the pain of others. Some extreme boundaries only become unhealthy when used for extended periods of time. Often times, flexible boundaries are established after we reach levels of healing in different areas.


For example, mental boundaries can be set when you notice that an opponent has gotten in your head. Nonexistent boundaries create opportunity for opponents to get in your head and trigger feelings of inferiority, disempowerment, or hopelessness. Establishing a flexible structure when it comes to mental boundaries may be more helpful so you can be intentional about keeping your opponent out of your head, but allowing other more supportive voices in like the voices of your coaches, teammates, family, and other chosen and identified healthy supports.


Rigid boundaries are similar to having strict tunnel vision and not having room for non-sports related interactions or relationships. Engaging in strict tunnel vision for too long can lead to loss of exposure to other parts of your identity (hence, where it starts to become unhealthy). While flexible boundaries can be how you interact with opponents in-season vs. offseason. You may be more friendly when not in competition, yet have a more serious tone when playing against each other.

What type of boundary is important to you in this season?

Which boundary structure will help you implement that specific type of boundary?

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