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At Least One Reason Why You Struggle to Access Curiosity, Creativity, and Play

Curiosity, creativity and play have become pillars in my practice. When I say my practice I mean both my personal life and professional work.


Doing trauma work helps me stay open to the full range of the human experience. I've sat with so, so much pain. I see violence and oppression everywhere; it's woven into the fabric of our society and in the patterns of our communities.


Sorry to be a downer. But here's the gift: deciding not to turn away from the ugliness that is made so much more clear for me the level of possibility.


A big part of healing and liberation involves power and resource re-distribution. This is a reality. And, they require, among other things:


a) a high level of self-worth and determination to enjoy life

b) creative visioning free of urgency

c) extreme vulnerability and comfort with risk-taking (AKA play)


In other words, the necessity is that our minds and bodies can move, explore, create, and enact.


Our lived experience, including the ways we experience all of our emotions and perceive our capacity to live a full life, are shaped by the context of white supremacy, colonization, and capitalism, with all of our personal traumas piled right on top. These (hi)stories have embedded fear into our systems.


But stifled under the blanket of trauma & oppression, fear cannot mobilize. And that's a key difference between experiencing life stressors and experiencing traumatic stress: can I mobilize myself out of this situation? Am I capable of extricating myself, or even being rescued by others who care about my humanity? What messaging have I internalized around Self-determination? Do I have a chance to free myself? Am I doomed, or can I Self-actualize?


Without the opportunity to mobilize we often stay stuck in/with the fear. Getting out of it requires a great deal of Self-trust and vulnerability. I think we have to bring what we want to see and experience in the world as much into our practice now as we can, knowing limitations exist and trusting the possibilities will continue to expand.


How can we deconstruct our current reality and tap into curiosity, creativity, and play in a way that helps our bodies integrate new possibilities and new ways of being?


Well, let's try a bite-sized experiment:

What happens in your body when you read the word play? What do you picture?


For me, I picture myself running about, almost directionless (lol), but loving it. Perhaps laughing. Perhaps crouching down, then standing up. Being able to look around and see fully where I am instead of having to focus in to figure out if the coast is clear or not.


It took me some time to get here. To not feel frozen or just plain confused by that invitation. I've learned how to sprinkle in bits of play to help my body get more comfortable with it and to trust that I'll still be able to access the other parts of me that want to help when I feel afraid.


I invite you to explore physically if you feel comfortable, but I also think it's sufficient to begin by thinking about your relationship to play, curiosity, and creativity. Sometimes when our bodies are reticent to move building insightful context can strengthen our container before we experiment with any mobilizing movement; we might need a bit of re-parenting. After all, the impulse to not play, create, or be curious is as intergenerational as it is systemic.


Here are just a few very random ideas for engaging these states:

- incorporate creativity in small ways, such as using colored pens to take meeting notes

- find a small project you can work on in your downtime

- put a timer on for 5 minutes and crawl around your living room on your hands, knees, anything but your feet

- if something feels pleasurable on or in your body, try to be as descriptive as possible about that experience, noting body sensations or even colors that come to mind

- explore what histories or cultural norms might shape your understanding of these words

- journal about the experiences you had with these states growing up - think about if you often have experiences (intentionally broad in my language here) alone, or call people in to your experiences

- for the numbers person, you can even begin by tracking how frequently you access these states

- identify and repeat phrases that help you feel permission to play (you don't need it, but your inner children might like to hear it!)


If you experiment with something from this list or create your own experiment I'd love to hear. Drop a note in the comments, e-mail me, or message me on Instagram.



Photo by Raquel Costa from Pexels

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