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COLUMN: Stay out of the bump zone

We need to evaluate if expectations were misplaced or if we perhaps contributed to our own hurt somehow. 

A friend of mine operates a dayhome, and I was visiting her on a day while she was providing care.

One of her kids came up from the playroom crying, saying that so-and-so was on the swing and knocked them over. My friend comforted the child and then asked, “Were you in the bump zone?” 

The bump zone is the breadth of the swing’s range. She even had it marked on the floor with painter’s tape. All the kids know the rules to keep the play space safe, including: “Stay out of the bump zone.” 

It means that everyone can play safe and have fun — without accidents and mishaps. 

Naturally, as fallible little humans sometimes are, they wind up in the bump zone and get bumped. 

And what a beautiful metaphor this turned out to be because don’t we all walk into the bump zone every so often? 

We can find ourselves hurt by a loved one, a coworker or a situation, but if we’re honest and take a look around, it’s because we wound up in the bump zone. 

Perhaps the bump zone translates as misaligned expectations. We relied on something to be different than what occurred. Thereby, part of the reason we are hurting is because we weren’t fully aware of or realistic about our surroundings. 

It doesn’t mean the hurt isn’t valid. We still deserve a hug or a Band-Aid, it just also means we need to be accountable, to look at what’s around us. We need to evaluate if expectations were misplaced or if we perhaps contributed to our own hurt somehow. 

It’s so easy to lay blame, to project our feelings outward when hurt befalls us. It’s comforting to us when the blame can be cast elsewhere, but it’s also incredibly disempowering. 

It’s a form of surrendering our personal power to others. It primes us to live in a victimhood state and allows us to perpetuate the belief that we are not the creators of our lives and experiences. 

Ever since this funny little moment occurred at my friend’s dayhome, I’ve dealt with my hurt so much differently. I still seek out my loved ones to get my bruises bandaged, but then I turn and look around, reflect and ask myself, “Was I in the bump zone?” I look to see if perhaps this situation could be navigated differently in the future. I consider how I can change my own actions or choices to keep myself safe. 

It also then means that no one is the bad guy, there’s just a sequence of events that occur and the consequences that follow. No one to blame, just a learning experience that permits an opportunity for different choices in the future. 

It makes everything feel a lot less serious and it cultivates peace, which is all I truly want. 

Who’d have thought the biggest impact on my state of peace would come from a roomful of screaming toddlers? 

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