My daughter introduced me to the card game called, “Exploding Kittens.” Yes, that is a real game. I played it for the first time in Virginia Beach while visiting my college best friend and her family. We went out to eat and they showed me a long tradition of theirs, take a deck of cards and play a game while waiting for your food. They brought, “Exploding Kittens,” and I fell in love with the NOPE card. Again, it is real.
This card game reminded me of Uno in that play proceeds in a circle with each person playing a card on the deck in the middle. You can reverse the direction of play, make people take extra cards, and all manner of ornery directives – depending on the card you play on the deck in the middle. But, there is this one card that is unlike any other. It’s called the NOPE card. When you play this card, you set your opponent back on her heels. When you play this card, it like setting a beautiful and freeing boundary. Nope! Don’t have to do it. Whatever it was you were trying to make me do…don’t have to do it. Nope.
Setting boundaries is powerful. In relationships, boundaries are essential. Otherwise, we don’t know where I stop and you begin. Boundaries can actually restore life and health to relationships, allowing everyone involved to know they are honored, heard and respected. Boundaries are not easy, but they do keep us on the path to long-term sustainability with each other. Without good boundaries, resentment sets in and manipulation is not far behind. If people stay in relationships without good boundaries, it is usually because they feel like they don’t have a choice – also an example of boundary transgression.
It is good to set boundaries. It is good to keep boundaries. And, it is hard work, requiring constant vigilance…kind of like wearing a mask all day. The drift of most relationships is toward letting boundaries slide. She really needs me to do this for her and I really don’t want to fight about it, so I’ll go ahead and do it. I don’t want to make him mad because I know what he’s like when he loses his temper. She should appreciate how hard I work. Oh, and the list could go on and on and on!
That’s why I love the NOPE card. It is fun. It is disarming. It is actually hilarious. So, I started carrying around nope cards from the Exploding Kittens deck in my purse. That way, when it feels hard to set or keep a boundary, I can pull out a card and slap it down. Nope! I’m not going to do that right now. Sometimes, I even have to Nope myself. Nope, Charla! You’re not going to talk to yourself that way. Nope is a tool that is helping me find my way to better emotional and relational health. Maybe they should sell the nope cards in a separate stack…