I was at the dentist the other day getting my teeth cleaned. Is it just me, or does everyone have a hygienist that loves asking questions when they have sharp tools in your mouth? It doesn’t make sense to me. If the questions were about pain level or scraping intensity it would indeed make sense, but they were not. In my experience, they have the same script almost every time. This time, the hygienist asked me about local situations that have been in the news. I simply told her “I keep myself in a state of peace by choosing to not watch the news.” Then she said she only watches the news so she can make small talk with her patients. I only nodded. In that moment, I sent a silent message that I am a-okay with silence while she is working in my mouth with sharp tools. She moved along with no more questions for me but making comments about what great shape my teeth were in.
This might get me into trouble, but I am going to keep going…LOL, I suppose the potential of trouble is my signal to keep going, who am I kidding?!
I do not love or even like “small talk”. It is like my being instantly rejects it, recoils. I can feel it happening. I understand everyone is just doing their best to SEEM interested and maybe relevant. Let's be honest. Small talk sucks and its awkward...there is nowhere to go from it other than to another canned question and another canned answer.
Ask me something that will stimulate me intellectually or better yet playfully! If I walked into the dentist, or really any establishment and they were to ask me “playful or silly” questions such as…” What is your favorite color?” “How much gas is in your vehicle right now?” “What was the last horrible thing you ate?” “What was the last song you remember singing along to?” “What was the last thing you laughed at?” “What have you been reading this week?” “What TV series are you into right now?” “Who was the last person who startled you that made you jump?” “Quick! show me the face you make when you are surprised.”
Can you imagine how that would change your moment? Maybe your day? And would that moment inspire you to pass it on to another person in another moment? Instead of discussing the weather in the normal way…”cold enough out there for you?” what about “when was the last time you got a really good sun burn?” or “have you ever gotten caught in a down pour?” or “what is your favorite snow day memory?”….and then, listen to their story. And you might share yours. It doesn’t have to take long. Playfulness sparks something in you and others. You might run into a person here and there that doesn’t want to “play along”…I am going to tell you a secret…you have still positively shifted that moment for them whether they show it or not. Playfulness is contagious and sparks creativity.
This isn’t about me taking on a role as therapist outside of a session nor asking you to. I really enjoy getting to know others at a deep level and enjoying good laughter together. Believe it or not, playfulness gets you there. And the next time you see that “stranger” in another setting, you will more than likely remember that their favorite color is neon blue, and they may remember that yours is hot pink ~ you have made a connection that may only need be acknowledged again with a nod and a smile as the playful memory returns in a new moment. They are no longer a stranger…even if you never learned their name.
The way I see it, we are here for one of two reasons. To heal or to hurt. Think about this related to every aspect of your life, both internally and externally. Most of us are on autopilot, in a slightly dissociative state, most of the time. Most of us are so busy and overwhelmed there isn’t much of a choice for our nervous systems to not short circuit other than to move into checking out and allowing autopilot to take over.
How many of you actually remember the entire drive to work and or school every day?? How many of you intended to go somewhere after work and ended up in your driveway? How many of you just cannot wait to get to your favorite “spot” when you get home and get lost in your phone or TV? How many of you would get jolted out of your own autopilot if you were asked a “playful or silly” question by a stranger?
When we are checked out, we are not paying attention, we are not mindful, we forget, we put things off, we disregard others, we neglect our own self-care, we neglect care for others, we blame, we increase the likelihood of “crashes” both real and metaphorical. When we choose to be on autopilot, we are making a choice to hurt, and or stay hurt.
Choosing to move into manual or even stick (iykyk)…can be tricky, but with practice you can get the hang of it, and it can be fun. It will more than likely be sticky at first until you remember how all the pedals work, to shift gears at just the right time, when to push in the clutch, hit the gas or the break…lol, now I have taken it too far. You get my point. You have to pay attention to get it right. You won’t be able to be playful if you stay on autopilot, as playfulness requires different parts of your brain to activate.
Did you know there are simple things like a smile, a hug, a playful question, laughter, kind eye contact, a song, a wiggle, a thoughtful compliment, or kind word are all tiny but huge acts of healing? It is one thing to do any of these things on autopilot and another to carry them out when you are fully in the moment. How can you tell if someone else is present or on autopilot? Look at their eyes. Is there a glimmer? Or is there a fog, a distance, their eyes are open, but they are somewhere else? Are they able to make eye contact with you? Do they even notice you as you are noticing them? If you are on autopilot, you will not be paying attention to anyone’s eyes.
I know you are in there. I see you. I see the you that I want to connect with, that I want to laugh with, that I want to be playful with, that I want to grow with. I see the you that holds your potential. And I see the mask you wear that try’s to hide the real you. I do not judge the mask, only see it so that I may look beyond it. I understand this makes some feel a bit skittish. I understand. It stirs something in you that you haven’t felt in awhile. It is the part of you that wants to come out and play. The part of you that wants to be here to heal instead of hurt. I promise there is nothing to fear, not even fear itself. The real you that wants to heal is so much stronger, confident, and courageous than you realize. Your hero is inside of you…he or she has been there all along, they never left.
Maybe you feel uncomfortable thinking about coming out of your own autopilot, having been unpracticed or a bit rusty? That’s ok! Maybe start with present silence. Can you be in a room with someone else and stay silent and present? Can you sit quietly with that glimmer in your eye, with another in stillness and just marinate in each other’s presence? And if the other is not present, you stay and just notice what it feels like when they are right there but gone at the same time. It is such an interesting experience. I think it proves we are not our bodies. We just leave. We leave others all the time and don’t notice how much we are wanted and needed here. You will not understand this until you experience it. Try it. You really only need a few minutes and another person in the room. After you experiment and notice the effects reflect on how often you do this and how others might feel in your presence or lack thereof. This is one of the main reasons why we can feel such loneliness when we are with others, more so even, than when we are actually alone.
Is this why you are here? Just to leave?
Right here right now. All it really takes is one moment to change your mind. All it really takes is one decision in every moment to stay here. And if you really want to, but need support or assistance because it feels too hard or too vulnerable to stay here, then ask for that help or support from someone who carries that glimmer of playfulness in their eye!
We are all called to heal. If you do not answer the call, you have chosen to hurt.
Is it time for a plot twist to your story?
Whether you choose the route of heal or the route of hurt ~ own it. It is your story. It is time to go all in on the role you choose to play.
Will you answer a playful question in the comment section below, or wherever you are listening, or on social media?
Who is your favorite fictional hero AND heroine of all time? Today, mine are Braveheart and Rainbow Bright!
Today I am signing off with a dose of Playful Love & Gratitude to you,