Posts Tagged ‘personal space’

As a child, one of my favorite things to do was to blow bubbles in the yard. Sometimes I liked to blow them in the house, too, until my mom caught me and told me to get outside. I distinctly remember a time at my dad’s house in Rhode Island when bubbles got my sisters and I in major trouble. Dad was at work and the lady who lived in the upstairs apartment was babysitting. Two of my sisters and I decided to take the bubble blowing up a notch and add an element of ice skating. While enjoy our bubbles – indoors – we emptied the container of soap onto the kitchen floor. In our socks, we skated around like we were in the winter Olympics.

Until our dad came home…

I’m sure many of you also enjoyed blowing bubbles as a kid or with your kids. I still love to get out the wand or squeeze the Dawn soap bottle until the kitchen fills with tiny bubbles. But, let’s look at a different meaning for the word “bubble.”

The term is used to signify one’s physical comfort level with others. If we are too close to someone because they have stepped inside our metaphorical bubble, all kinds of emotions can come up. For me, I don’t like being too close to individuals so my bubble is much larger. Others enjoy being close and have no bubble at all. Regardless, it’s OK to determine how big or small is your bubble and to allow certain individuals to cross into or not cross into it.

While in crisis prevention intervention training, we did an exercise that challenged us to consider how close we let people get to us. The purpose was to show how when our personal bubbles are burst, we can react quickly to the discomfort. The trainer pointed out that as my partner in the exercise got closer, I tended to lean back and rub my hands together with anxiety. My partner, however, had a very close personal bubble and it was OK on her end to be within inches of my face.

There is nothing wrong with creating your own bubble size. In fact, it’s healthy to be aware of what is comfortable for you and what can trigger intense anxiety or other emotions. I have a rule with a family member who, because of cognitive disabilities, is unable to realize my bubble size: Ask before hugging me. If left up to him, he would hug me every five minutes, but he knows now that I will refuse to hug him unless he asks… BEFORE wrapping his arms around me.

It’s not mean. It’s simply my way of saying I have boundaries and I need them to be respected. What about you? Have you determined the size of your bubble? If so, is it a big bubble or a little bubble and have you made others aware of this?

Something more to think about…


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