I’ve been shamelessly appropriating some games for folk like us. Little prompts to help us come up for air, from the day-to-day mire.
So here are some provocations to get us out of our heads (and way)
I hope they shake-up old habits. And get you thinking, or feeling – as the case may be.
The invitation here is to give these games the benefit of the doubt. It’s OK to prejudge expectations of what might happen, but be ready to surprise yourself…
How about some curious fun then?
Let me know how you found these.
Credit to some dusty little coaching books bought sustainably from World of Books.
1. Try being brutally honest
The invitation is to wear your heart on your sleeve, when someone asks you a question one-to-one, or when there’s an opportunity to speak-up in a group. Jump in, respectfully, then tell it like it is, for you.
This is more than just saying what’s on your mind. It’s about being forthcoming with what you really think or feel, in the moment.
Yep, it might be unsettling. Disruption is progress though, of sorts.
Sometimes there’s a temptation to shape what we want to say, to fit the situation, either de-emphasising the positive or negative. So try being candid instead. Imperfect and clumsy as it is.
Notice reactions in the short-term (yak!), but also see if anything changes long-term (oooh!).
Remember that honesty isn’t the same as being obtuse and contrary, Chris.
2. Try humility
Hang out with people who have different standards, or different definitions of success than you. No judgement here. Just set yourself the task of figuring out what’s special or unique about them, besides what they accomplish. Get curious about what constitutes enough/perfect/complete, or other subjective standards.
If you’re feeling fruity, maybe hunt for evidence that humans are awesome regardless of what we do, make or achieve.
I played this game at length with my wife when we tiled the bathroom floor. Miraculously, we are still together.
3. Try shifting focus
Next time you’re in conversation with someone, see how deftly you can flip who’s the focus of the dialogue.
If you tend to get excitable and talk about your own agenda, refocus on the other person and ask questions with genuine warmth and curiosity about their world.
If you often come away from conversations feeling unheard or unsure, try the opposite. Like 1, above, offering vulnerability and honesty about your world usually brings people closer.
If you’re somewhere between these, sack this one off. You’re already capable of holding a functional human conversation. Ignore me.
I’m well aware it can feel dirty when the spotlight is on you in a conversation. I track the ratio of conversational balance obsessively. One trick is to assume the other person is genuinely concerned or interested, and that gifting your story is an act of kindness.
4. Try telling ALL
This one might feel excruciating.
Next time you’re recounting an event or telling a story, make it as much about how you felt, as the events you describe. Label the emotions.
So, for example, each time you make a statement of fact (e.g. “I checked everything off my to-do-list”) append a reflection on your feelings (“Yet I still feel hollow and dead inside.”).
5. Try deepening when upset (or happy)
When you feel moved, be curious about what’s behind your reaction. If someone frustrates you, what’s the situation teaching you about yourself? If you’re excited, how would life be different if you gave yourself more of this?
The object here is to tune into that inner world we all have, and wonder whether it tells us anything. Feelings and sensations in the body can be signals; think of it like extra information to help you take better decisions and actions.
Focusing (a kind of meditative practice) can really help with deepening your feelings. The method suggests we consider a problem or concern, then feel our way through the sensations that surround it. With practice, words and images can randomly come to mind, and deeper feelings that tell us something about what really matters, or how to tackle the problem. It’s basically asking yourself what you really need, then feeling your way through to an answer.
6. Try something for something’s sake
A creative hobby that’s enjoyable in and of itself (regardless of the outcome) isn’t just a splendid way to while away the hours. It reminds you that there’s joy in the doing, as much as in the finishing.
So the challenge is to do something and to hell with the consequences. Do it for fun. It’s kind of related to number 2, but on your own.
If you’re lucky enough to already have an outlet that creates stuff that’s ‘good enough’ – congratulations. You have ready-made spiritual medicine in your cabinet.
For 6, I like to make strange sonic soundscapes on my electric guitar in the eves of a darkened room. Odd, stereotype of a lonely middle-aged man that I am.
7. Try staring at strangers
OK, maybe don’t stare. But go somewhere public and just people watch. Try to guess what’s on their mind and what they’re feeling, based on clues like their outward expressions, voice and gestures.
If you’re feeling fruity (again), play with empathy. See if you can sense what it’s like to live like that, to feel their feelz. For bonus points, if you’re zesty a f, what would happen if you approached them?
I’m keen to say be mindful of judgement again. But it’s a real temptation to switch off from your own shit life and live out someone else’s as a kind of escapism. We’ve all done it.
Did you enjoy playing today?
Tell me. I’m GENUINELY interested. And thankful you read this.