Playing is no joke! It is actually a serious matter for both kids and adults. Playing is how kids learn and how adults can grow emotionally,
As adults we are programed to only play in certain ways (dancing at the club Friday nights, sports, bridge club) or worse yet, not play at all (that’s kid stuff).
Dr. Lois Holzman. a developmental psychologist, points out that play well plays a critical role for our human growth at every age. We need playing to get ourselves, our relationships, and our world unstuck.
As a psychotherapist, working to break out of the roles and identities that keep us stuck inspires me. Playing is such a powerful way to do just that.
Here’s a slice of playing with my clients and friends:
In group therapy, a client shared how he likes to sit away from the rest of group as a ‘safety net’. His identity is as someone who needs protection from others. After talking about this for a bit, group members started switching their seats to change perspective. In playing a kind of adult musical chairs, we discovered something about giving support in new ways while challenging our labels and of fears.
A couple came in asking for help with the same fight they perform over and over (sound familiar?). We practiced jumping up and down and talking gibberish once that fight starts. This pointless activity helped us break up the couple’s pattern and to discover news ways of disagreeing.
At this months yoga-coffee and community that I lead, helping people get unafraid of yoga and into breathing, we made a point to laugh throughout the whole class, it make a difference!
My clients and I had fun, and playing is also very hard. Playing exposes our humanity – our not knowing, silliness, not looking all put together. That’s our shot at developing the world and ourselves.
I invite you to use the tools of improvisation, pointless silliness and theater to create new roles in our relationships where that be with a co-worker, best friend, your teenager or a spouse. Let’s all break out and play together! So next time you are in that same argument with one of your partners in life, throw on a clown nose and see how that effects what is going on.