play as adults

The Importance of Play

I was watching a friend’s 3 year old grandson roll about on the floor in a public place.  Why was he doing it? Because he could!  He had no inhibitions, not doubting thoughts, just a desire to play and feel the experience or rolling around.

We all know the saying “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing” by George Bernard Shaw.  When does that freedom of playing stop? I think it stops even when we are children or certainly teenagers and instead our rational, inhibiting mind kicks in and starts to restrict our inner child.

What favourite games or activities did you do as a child, how did it make you feel?  As I recall those memories even now a smile spreads across my face.  There is a sense of freedom, joyousness, being right in the moment – a chance to explore our bodies, our environment and our minds.  Play was about laughter, making friends, feeling good, feeling happy. And as adults we still need and deserve those things.

We know that play is essential to development and growth in all young mammals but play in adults is also incredibly beneficial.  Play in adults relieves stress, builds bonds within friendships, stimulates brain function and promotes connection and a sense of belong, all crucial for good mental health.

I know that there is a place and time for everything and that rolling on the floor in a restaurant although it might make you feel great, could have consequences!  However as adults we can still find time and ways of means to play.

As I’ve mentioned in several blogs it stars with attitude and choice, an intention and willingness to let go of possible embarrassment, of ignoring social norms and doing your own stuff regardless of what others may think.  In fact we don’t know what others are thinking and may even be envious of our expression of freedom and inhibition!

Play can be an individual activity such as splashing in puddles, skipping when out walking, blowing bubbles or playing with a pet.  Play with others can be spontaneous or planned, building sandcastles on the beach, arranging board game evenings, playing hide and seek, doing I-Spy on a car journey, the list is endless.  Whatever you do it should give you pleasure, fun, laughter and freedom of movement and thought.

What have you done recently that has been fun and playful? If you’re stuck with what to do go back to those memories of play as a child and if possible live them again.  Don’t get put off by others saying that it is “childish” or they haven’t got time, they are missing out big time!

Leave your adult self behind and once again find your inner child!

Hidden aspects of ourselves

Hidden Aspects of Ourselves

I doubt whether any of us are straight forward.  There are aspects of ourselves that perhaps we care to keep hidden or at least only show on rare occasions.  At times, others around us see things in us that perhaps we don’t see or recognise ourselves.

Back in 1955 psychologist Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham developed a model that enabled people to gain a better understanding of themselves in relation to others.  Combining their Christian names together they created Johari Window which continues to be used today especially within team development.  It is a feedback and self-awareness model that I have used myself when running workshops on team building and developing confidence.

I do think that it is worth, every now and then, to consider our own Johari window and to check out which areas can perhaps do with a bit more developing!

In its simplest form there are four quadrants or areas to the window, see diagram below.

Area One is known as the Open area and this represents our skills, behaviour, attitude, knowledge and experience that are known to us and to others.  It is open, nothing hidden, there is clear open communication.   When working as part of a team this area ideally should be developed in order to lessen conflict and avoid miscommunication.

Area Two is the Blind area which represents information that is known by others but not by the person themselves.  Maybe others are deliberately withholding information from you or you may be choosing to ignore issues about yourself.  Others interpret you differently from how you perceive yourself.  Not necessarily a good place to be in and often people who are known as “thick skinned” have an over developed blind spot.

Area Three or Hidden area  is what we know about ourselves but have chosen not to share it with others.  These can be our fears, past experiences, feelings, secrets, hidden agendas.  There may be many reasons why we choose not to make it open but we need to be aware that there may come a time when it is appropriate and healthier to move it into the Open area.  As the saying goes “what we resist, persists”.

Area Four known as the Unknown contains latent abilities and experiences that are unknown to both us and others.  It is the bit yet to be explored or discovered.  Maybe we have yet to have the opportunities to push out of our comfort zone, to realise that we are far more capable than we think we are.  Self-discovery and observation by others can help move from this area into area one.

By taking a quick check using this model are there aspects that you are ignoring about yourself? Maybe you hear others repeatedly tell you about certain skills/attributes that you are not accepting? Does it feel appropriate to be a little braver and move out of your comfort zone and stretch your potential?  For all us we rarely stand still in our personal development and growth so I hope that a reminder of this model will help you take another step forward.

Johari Model