Play, within a child's world, is often called a "child's work," because it is within play where children tend to engage in life most freely.
Play, in the adult realm, is often believed to be unnecessary or self indulgent, as in "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas..." and while that may be one way to play, I would like to suggest that play should be happening for all of us much more often than during Spring Break, or on a summertime vacation. In fact, the reason this post is so late this month is that I took a rare vacation myself in early April. I was going to work over Spring Break, and then I realized I wasn't practicing what I preach!
Play reinvigorates our souls, connects us to our deepest selves and allows authenticity and vitality to emerge, without the constraints of who or what we "should," be or do in our lives. When we engage in play, whether it's belly laughing with our children, engaging in artistic endeavors, playing sports, surfing, riding our bikes, spending time with friends or on vacations, or just taking a walk or going to the spa - we are connecting ourselves to our inner child.
No matter how old we become, our inner child never leaves us, and so we need to take care of the parts of us which so often become depleted or lost, in the service of our constant "adulting," (as my kids say!).
And, I would also suggest that it is quite important to teach our children and teens about the importance of play - because if we aren't playing here and there - they won't know how or believe that they are worthy of playing and taking care of their inner child....and broken inner children create broken inner adults, who are ripe for addiction, depression, anxiety, health problems...and the list goes on and on.
As a therapist, I often ask people to tell me what they did as children for fun, in order to help them re-connect to their true passions, callings and personal joys.
So, here are the questions and ideas for April:
Questions: What did you do as a kid that you did just because it made you happy or made you feel free inside? What do you do now that does the same thing or what do you need to do again?
Ideas: After you have established what type of play may be missing in your life, what do you need to do to make play happen? What excuses or issues get in the way of you loving your inner child enough to show yourself that you are worthy of play, rest and joy?
Here are some great ways to play and connect to your inner child:
Catch a Midnight Movie at the Drive-In
See where the road leads you on an unplanned drive
Jump in Puddles
Visit a Farm
Pose for Pictures While Hotel Bed Jumping
Let Balloons Go
Take a Train Ride
Be intimate with someone
Get Dressed Up For A Stay Date
Turn Your Sidewalk Into an Art Gallery
Play Follow the Leader or Simon Says
Wage a Spit Ball War
Go Fly A Kite
Get Lost in a Good Book
Make Up Your Own Song
Learn a Magic Trick
Find a Swimming Hole
Smell the Roses
Press Pause, Do Nothing
Visit A Play Therapist
Host a Gratitude Lunch
Pick Fruit Fresh From the Tree
Create a Vision Board
Take a Leisurely Stroll- Often
Listen to the Rain
Learn to Make Jam
Pretend with your partner
Make a playlist of your favorite music
Yoga and Meditation
Take a drive along the coast
Play an online or board game with your kids
Sit in the quiet
Take a cooking class
Get a puppy or kitten
Learn to surf or paddle board
Have a "make each laugh" contest
Plan a dream vacation
As I watch the rain pouring down and find myself unable to sleep on this early March morning, I reflect on what it means to be connected to myself, and how I can further engage in self compassion this month. Asking myself the question "Where do you need to extend your own self compassion?" leads me to the idea of facing fear and how fear shows up in my life. Since my goal is to keep this monthly email short, I won't go into why fear is showing up in my life at this moment, but I will say that fear comes and goes in all our lives, from the day we are born until the day we leave the planet.
Fear is a deeply wired reaction, evolved over the history of biology, to protect organisms against a perceived threat to existence. However, sometimes our brains don't seem to be able to tell the difference between someone we can't trust, a new experience or change in our lives, or a lion leaping toward us in the jungle. Sometimes all of these experiences can seem to be on equal playing ground when our brains perceive fear in different life situations.
Mild anxiety can become massive panic over events that, on the surface, are not life threatening. So, what can you do when you feel paralyzed by fear?
Simple. Well, simple, assuming you don't need to run from a lion.
You can decide to embrace fear by acknowledging its existence and then ask yourself the question "Why am I afraid of this new experience?" Then, mentally review all of the facts about the situation, and focus on what you can control or change, what steps you can take, and where you can find your power.
Do you need to make a list of the obstacles in your path, do you need to seek professional or medical advice, do you need to take better care of yourself, or do you need to trust that the evidence or new opportunities in your life are allowing you to let go of your fears and to try something new?
If your fear is about a person or relationship in your life, ask yourself "What is this uneasy feeling in my body and mind trying to tell me about someone?" or "Why am I hanging on to a broken or hurtful relationship that will never be enough for me?"
Then, once you begin to explore why you are feeling fearful or what information about someone you need to accept or trust when their face tells you "trust me,"-- but your intuition tells you they are "a lion in disguise," you can begin to learn to trust yourself; knowing that you are biologically wired to detect fear and that this fear is telling you to "RUN" and take action, because your fear is literally trying to protect you from something that may not be good or healthy, or a safe relationship in your life.
Regardless of how or why fear is showing up in your life, remember to be lovingly compassionate with yourself for what you are feeling.
It's ok to be scared, it's just not helpful to linger in your fearful emotions for too long... because if you don't eventually take action against a lion....well, you won't be in the jungle for long.
"Where is fear showing up in my life and what is it trying to tell me?"
"What can I DO about it?"
"Where do I need to lovingly embrace my fear
so I can move out of it and into action?
Decipher what you can do to face the lions in your life.
Do you need to focus on the evidence, and break down where you have power and what you can control?
Do you need to recognize that your fear is holding you back from being in the greatest relationship of your life, with yourself or someone else?
Compassionately love yourself in the midst of your fear, and believe that you are capable of facing and conquering what scares you..... because you are biologically wired to recognize the lions in your life, and to do something about them!
Dr. Kim Sage