What is so limiting and dis-empowering about stereotypes? They fence us in and don’t allow us to be our authentic and unique person. Play is the exact opposite. Play is the expansion of ideas and behaviors outside of where we have been before. As I was reading about play therapy this week, I came across about that highlights the importance of play for everyone—adults too. If play is about trying out new ideas, behaviors, and ways of thinking, it makes sense that play is crucial for creating new pathways in our brain to learn.
The “play” that I have found in my new life in Germany is strength training! In strength training you learn new techniques and play with what your body is capable of doing—just as a child does when how to walk. You notice changes in your strength as you play with what weight you can add each week. You feel stronger, more powerful—physically and mentally different. This practice is about pushing yourself beyond your expectations and perceived limits. Being the only woman in the weight room is an empowering sense—I am allowing women to be seen outside of those traditional stereotypes. Most importantly, playing around with our expected roles allows us to believe in ourselves. We must believe in our own ability to surpass the limiting and stale beliefs that outline what we should be as a woman, a man, a person of certain age, a person of color, or as a gay or straight person.
Pushing yourself, creating new expectations, and breaking down old limiting beliefs and stereotypes is exactly what coaching is all about. And here I’m talking about life coaching and career coaching, not personal training in the weight room. We often need a coach to encourage us to play with different ideas and self-perceptions to see what feels right.
What is required for play? And why do we as adults have such a hard time with it? To play, we enter an unknown. We are no longer experts or professionals. We need the humility to sit down on the floor and realize it is not about having all the answers, it’s about opening up to new ones.