Free to Be Me

self help books

“You wanna play?” the little girl asked as she twirled her hair. “Nope” the little boy responded clearly.

Upon hearing this, she skipped over to another girl and playfully asked, “Do you wanna play with me?”  The girl giggled and exclaimed “Yeah!” and they skipped off to climb the jungle gym. Just sitting at a playground where my daughter frequently goes recently, I witnessed a profound lesson.  I was in awe of what had so simply transpired.  Could it be that easy? What happens when we “grow up” that makes life seem so complicated?  I have led workshops on play to children and adults all over the globe for years yet did not fully understand the simplicity of it, until that moment.

As an adult, I tend to analyze why others may or may not want to “play with me.” Sometimes I make the other person wrong in order to feel right. Or at times, I have judged myself, trying to understand what I am or have done that is so wrong that I cannot get this person to “play or like me.”  Clients share with me that they want more joy and ease, yet get stuck in the NEED for approval. NEED for being right. NEED for being successful.

It’s not easy being told “Nope” but it is in this answer where true play resides. Our truest essence knows that we are enough no matter what happens in the sandbox called life. For years, I tried to fix myself. Instead of “skipping away” from the one who didn’t want to like me or play with me, I stayed. I called ten friends and asked their advice. I called my therapist and asked her advice. I analyzed and began a cycle of trying to change what WAS.  I stayed with the person who continued to say “no” desiring a “yes.” I changed who I was to see if he/she would play/like me. I judged them and made me “right” to others to make he/she play/like me.  All the while, there were numerous other people in my playground willing to play that I could not see.

It is challenging at times to not take things personally. For years, I dreaded hearing someone’s perceived judgment of me, or someone who just did not want to be with me. I dieted, I worked harder, I spent years talking about not being enough to all those around me, until one day I realized something very simple.  I asked myself “Are you free? How do you feel around this person or situation?  Why are you always trying so hard to be something different? Why aren’t you skipping anymore?”  These questions led me to a place of true inner freedom. Witnessing this simple exchange between children, reminded me of my own simple knowing. This is what we are all born with. It does not go away unless we allow it to. Curiosity was my best friend as a child, and it has led me to create my own company based off the simple concept of play. It has led me to get out of my own way during challenging times, and be curious rather then afraid.

We  all enter into this playground with innate curiosity for life and others.  We know who we are, and who we are not.  We love openly and skip boldly.  There is nothing to fix, and we certainly do not need to DO more. In fact, it is the opposite. We need to remember that curiosity is not child’s play it’s our life play. It never ends. When we take things seriously and personally, we forget to see one another for we are.  The wisdom of who we are as a child in a playground combined with the wisdom of being who we are as an adult creates freedom.  The willingness to play anyway, combined with the knowing that life is truly ours to create brings forth ease.

The way to play well together in this sandbox called life is to be able to hear the word no, and love ourselves MORE. To allow others to have their own choices and not diminish ourselves because of it. Even more so, to play with the idea that true freedom lies in giving ourselves permission to just be. To say no and to say yes with love and skip away knowing that we are always enough. I triple dog dare you to be bold in your play. To share and to receive with an open heart, and to climb up the jungle gyms with those who truly want to be climbing with you, and release the need to GET those who have no desire to climb to play with you. You are free- now  go out and play!