Flashback Friday: Maya Angelou and Kung Fu Panda- Lessons in Boundaries

I posted this on my original Secret Life blog, and it seems pertinent for this week, so I'm sharing again here:

Maya Angelou and Kung Fu Panda- Lessons in boundaries

Maya Angelou told a story that really stuck with me when it comes to courage in relation to boundaries. She was hosting a party in which there were quite a few people. From another room, she overheard someone telling a racist/homophobic joke. She literally stopped the music, the rooms all got silent as she confronted the joke-teller with "Not in my house." She then said, "Is this your purse? Did you come with anyone? It is time for you to leave". 

Oprah Winfrey asked her how she had the courage to confront that kind of thing, since it is difficult for some people to draw that kind of boundary. Maya Angelou said,  (and I am paraphrasing) "Words are powerful. Words strung together in just the right way can incite men to go to war. Words like that 'joke' are  poison. Just like using the 'N-word'. I don't allow it to be used around me. You can say you're trying to take it back, but it's a poisonous word. You will not paint my walls with poison of any kind. I don't want it seeping into the curtains, the furniture..." 

She then went on to talk about how courage is like a muscle that must be exercised a little each day. You don't start off trying to lift 200lbs of weight. You start off with 5lbs, then work your way up. You learn to speak up and use your courage to draw the boundaries around you for what is and isn't acceptable in your life. Then, you can lift the 200 lb weight of stopping a party and requiring a guest to leave. 

I think this is so important to all of us. I know so many of my friends and family members who are empaths. They feel what other people are feeling, which tends to attract people who are damaged and particularly those who tend toward feeling sorry for themselves. Many of these empaths start off their days with a happy outlook and a spring in their steps, only to encounter one of these Nay-sayer Nancies who drag them right down into depression.

This happened to a beloved friend of mine this morning. My advice to her was to remember Kung Fu Panda. He realizes that the "secret ingredient" is himself. As Ly De Angeles would say, "The warrior is the weapon- not the weapon in the hands of the warrior."  From there, he was able to fight off his greatest opponent and win, because he not only believed in himself, he did not take the threats and attacks so seriously. He simply let it all bounce right off of him as he laughed his way through it.

I encouraged my friend to see herself as the panda and to let it all bounce right off. Be happy, regardless of who is attempting to attack you, intentional or not. 

I invite you to try these exercises yourself today. If your boundaries have been crossed to the point where you feel constricted, start taking them back, little by little at first, until your courage comes back. Be like Kung Fu Panda and believe in yourself. Let it all bounce right off and don't take it all so seriously.

If you've never seen the movie, you totally should. And, if you have, I'll leave you with this scene:

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