How often do you let yourself play? Many people are caught in a battle between what they choose to embrace as adults to fit into society and the fun-loving, playful inner child that they long to set free. You are taught early on to silence your desires or to put them on the shelf with your other ideas that are not deemed appropriate in exchange for living a responsible adult life.
Why do you think that there are so many memes about hating Mondays and loving Fridays? Or why vacation time is so cherished and hard-won? You naturally embrace what feels good to you and you bond with others over what feels bad (often referred to as trauma bonding). This cycle is prevalent and more damaging than you know.
Claire fought back tears as she sat at the kitchen table, again, struggling to focus on her homework. School was hard enough and the endless evenings spent at the kitchen table trying to get through piles of homework were even harder. Her mother sat with her, trying her best to help Claire concentrate, passing a tissue when Claire’s tears fell hard.
This routine was all too familiar to them. It was a miserable and constant struggle. What Claire desperately wanted to do was play. She hated the responsibility of homework that took her three times as long as her peers to complete. She fought against the urges inside of her that were telling her to draw, sing, and play outside. Day in and day out Claire learned that her urges to play were less important than completing the work in front of her. Play came as a reward—if it came at all. Claire sighed heavily as she pushed down her desire to express herself and learned to focus on what made her miserable.
Childhood is shaped by the experiences you have and by the people you spend the most time with—the ones who influence your direction and purpose. These people can be parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, neighbors, or friends. Each one made a significant impact on your perception of how life works. You most likely chose their expectations to shape your world whether conscious of your choice or not. Most people take life very seriously and push down the playfulness and creativity that makes life enjoyable. Having fun has taken a back seat to being productive. Being too hard on yourself is never the answer, but here you are, in a constant battle between responsibility and freedom.
You are constantly searching to appease the not-so-great feelings that society has embraced as the necessary daily grind. After all, you’ve been groomed for this since the day you set foot in school: 12 years of study to bring you to a choice. Choice A: more school, or choice B: workforce—where you spend the rest of your life working yourself to death while being rewarded with long hours, little time off, and enough stress to cause a myriad of diseases while you wait for “retirement” (so you can finally have some fun). If you think about it, you work to earn money so you can buy things that help you deal with the stressful life you have chosen. You stress out over bills and lack, sometimes numbing that reality with things like food, alcohol, shopping, affairs, you name it, and the cycle continues.
Being truly happy is what you’re built for. It just takes a shift in your mindset. When you have negative feelings, you create and emit a low energetic vibration. This energy that you put out attracts the same type of energy back to us. This is known as the law of mirrors, you reflect back what you put out in front of us. Constant negative thinking will create constant negative experiences. People may feel as if the world is out to get them; but, in reality, they are creating the exact circumstances that they are experiencing. So, how do you stop this negative cycle and raise our energy to attract more positive things in our lives?
Stop struggling and start listening to your inner child. Do you want to know what the key to happiness really is? It’s allowing your inner child to take over and embrace the free spirit you have always been. It’s listening to those inner nudges that you are so much more than your job, your home, your relationships, and (especially!) other people’s opinions of you. That box you keep yourself in—you’ve created it. Stop feeling guilty that taking a mental health day will ruin your career. Stop feeling obligated to do for others before you do for yourself. Stop putting yourself in the victim role because YOU are ultimately in control of how you react to everything in your life. Balancing work and play is important.
Take some time and reconnect with your inner child. What lights you up and fills you with joy? What amazing ideas do you have that may have been dismissed as not good enough? It’s time to play, embrace your inner child, and let yourself have some fun. When you and your inner child are BFF’s again, you will open up your perspective to so many things that have been in plain sight that you just couldn’t see before.
Remember that saying, “Life is what you make it”? It truly is. You have the choice to stay in misery and live weekend to weekend or you can decide to step out of the doldrums and create an amazing life for yourself. Other’s expectations do not have to define you.
Everyone is constantly on the lookout for the next best thing to reduce stress, but the answer has been within you the entire time. You simply need to embrace it. When you do, your world will change in positive ways that you can’t even begin to imagine.
Once you’ve reflected on what truly makes you happy, you need to schedule time to do those things. It’s difficult to change your routine when it’s been ingrained for so long. You may feel silly, or even unworthy, by giving yourself time to play, but in actuality, your soul has been crying out for this very thing.
Decide what makes your soul sing and then do that. Make time to take a fun class that you have always wanted to take. Go to your local art supply store and buy some paints and a canvas and finger paint a masterpiece. You do not need an education or training in your chosen creative outlet. The only prerequisite you need is the feeling that it will make you happy. Allowing yourself to play, giving time to your inner child to express creativity, and following through with that expression is the key to begin healing your spirit.
Sometimes you struggle with finding your purpose and worth because your childhood experiences led you to believe that you’re not good enough, or your ideas have no merit. You’re taught to stay silent and conform to the expectations of others. All of these experiences, no matter how harsh or innocent they seemed, created a field of negativity around your belief systems. This manifests as stress because you are not being true to yourself. Instead, you step into the role that society has created for you and fight through that label all day long, while you cry out inside against the system that is creating so much stress and misery.
Your life does not have to be this way. You have the power to change it by simply changing your perspective, by acknowledging your inner child and allowing yourself to have the freedom that you desire by simply allowing yourself to play. The things that most people regret at the end of their lives are the things they didn’t do and the chances they didn’t take because they thought they were obligated to a false sense of responsibility. What sparks your creativity? Learn more about ways to reduce stress by increasing your creative expression.