What Happened To Play?

What happened to play?

Did you make mud pies when you were a child?

Perhaps you spent time in a playground, or a sandbox.

Did you build castles in the sand?

What happened to the joyful spirit of play in your life?

Enter Insecurity

I was raised in a conservative environment so conditioning started at a young age.

I am not good about being indoctrinated so I noticed when anyone tried.

To this day, I notice.

However, the force feeding of fear and insecurity has an effect whether you like it or not.

It causes sadness, pain and loneliness. And insecurity.

I experienced all of those things.

The fear world causes us to pull back and stop fulling engaging with life.

When that happens a part of us dies a little bit at a time.

Who Gets Hurt?

Children are known to be sensitive to the hurt in others. Many comfort those around them who are in pain.

They are not, however, sophisticated in understanding the source of that pain.

How many of us are taught that if we are not obedient and quiet, we are a source of pain to others?

How many of us are taught that when we  are joyful we are hurting others?

How many of us are taught that happiness is something we earn?

How many of us are taught that curiosity is bad?

How many of us are taught that our creative, fully alive spirit is too much?

How many of us are taught that the more alive we are, the more of a burden we are?

No Room For Play

Play is how we learn.

Play is how we become strong.

So when we slowly close the door on play, we disempower ourselves and others.

Play is the basis of trial and error and give and take.

Play helps us to be open to possibility and to the good wherever we find it.

Playing with others helps us learn to trust them even if they are very different from us.

Play: The Path To Empowerment

Play lets us be more process oriented so that we are less focused on outcomes and more focused on our engagement in the trial and error process of creating

Play lets us work through a problem, so we learn how to do it.

When we engage in play we learn when to move forward and when not to. We learn to act, reflect on our actions and make adjustments. We learn what works and what does not and we acquire our own skills and knowledge independent of any one else.

Children used to go outside to play all the time. It was important to do so because it gave you direct access to your experience and eventually helped you develop skill and wisdom. You did not require the validation of anyone else. Directness develops power.

That appears to have changed and now young people have structured activities that are usually supervised and controlled.

Are they are better off?

Coming Into Our Own

We all need to find and take our place in the world. To do so we need to find our strengths and that occurs through play.

Play enables us to take calculated risks and teaches us how to handle our successes and failures.

Play makes failure a normal part of life. How many of us have a healthy attitude toward failure?

In the interest of safety and security we may have given up our resilience and spirits and I am not sure that we have made the right bargain.

Play helps us become who we were meant to become.

It helps is come into our own.

Which is why it is so important.



  1. says

    Great post, Maria. So I teach/speak to play in my work. But when I read your post I wonder if I am somewhat of an imposter. Growing up I was repeatedly told to “be quiet”. I was even told at times to stop laughing, stop smiling. I can picture it… my sister and I would be giggling in the back of the car and more times than not my father would turn around and tell us to “stop laughing!” What the heck!?!?! How can you tell a child to stop laughing? I even “joke” with him about it now… but after reading this realize that it was actually a painful experience… one that continues to haunt me. I am a HUGE perfectionist. I am my own worst critic. I am so super hard on me. And I want to change. I’ve got to stop this. So how? Well, in your words today- through play. Being more creative. Allowing for trial and error. Letting myself be human and flawed. Thank you for this. I wonder, in what ways do you see adults playing? As I was reading your post I had this strong sensation to grow run around in my yard barefoot! Now that would really be “play” at its best. What other ways do you see adults play today?

    Have a healthy day,

    • Maria says

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I think you are being hard on yourself by calling yourself an imposter!

      I suggest that you start by considering that all of life is an experiment. Unfortunately the survival brain and culture has some rigid, unproductive views about life. Notice how much of our media and social discussion makes everything a matter of life and death. But we create the drama! Even shows that are supposed to be about healing like “House” are really survival dramas (wars) against some sort of enemy. Most of it is bogus.
      There really is no them to be against if you understand that we all are part of the universal energy of the universe.

      I think you can find lots of ways to play and be creative every day from brushing your teeth a different way, to experimenting with food, to trying different approaches to problems.

      Play and creativity can be a natural part of your life. I hope you try it, although I have to admit, that although I am fairly creative, I also grew up in a repressive environment – and yes it is painful, because we end up feeling that the best in us is not wanted by the people closest to us.

      I hope this helps you embrace your playful side.

      All the best,

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