Bernard L. De Koven

On Having Fun

Playing Playfully Is Therapy For Self and Others

Playing with others is a healing art.

Posted Jun 24, 2016

You can think of this as a continuation of my post about starting a Playful Revolution in your inner community. Or not.

I begin with a reasonable conjecture:

A Reasonable Conjecture

The relationship you experience in playing with others is connected to the relationship you experience when playing in your inner community.

And I wouldn't be surprised if this were true when you're any kind of actual relationship with others: loving, learning, competing, dancing, working, living. Especially when that relationship gets deep, and the sharing gets deep, and the connection intimate.

Truth is, I've thought this to be true for at least the last 50 years of my career - that the way we play with others, the nature of the relationship we create for each other, becomes, shall we say, "introjected" into the way we conduct our relationship to and with our selves. And, very much of course, vice versa.

I first touched on that belief when I tried to find a way to rationalize all the fun kids were having playing kids games together. Because, see, I had just completed a three-year project compiling what I called The Interplay Games Curriculum, and I actually, with the aid of a few actual researchers, conducted actual research, and what we found was that kids who played games together tended to create more democratic communities. (You can read more about that here.)

I think, now that I think about it, that was central to what I had learned playing kids' games with kids: that what was going on between them was also going on inside them. And most definitely vice versa. That the kids who had negative relationships with their selves created negative relationships with each other. And what it was, circle-wise, was vicious.

Which, in turn, led me to believe that playing playfully with kids, letting them quit when they needed to, cheat (well, change the rules) when they wanted to, make up new games all together together when they were moved to - was helping them build new, more constructive, and definitely more healing relationships to their selves.

But, like I said, I never tested this insight specifically. I just believed in it, like, totally.

A Clear Inference

So, what I'm clearly more than inferring, dearly beloved reader, is that if you are into doing some self-healing, maybe a good way to start is by starting a little playful revolution in your family, or with your friends, or neighbors or community. Maybe just play some Other Games with other people. Maybe, just by playing semi-silly, unofficial games that nobody really cares about, you can begin to learn to care more for yourself, to develop a relationship with yourself, to pursue the kind of dialog based on self respect, self acceptance, self celebration.

After all, it's all therapy, don't you know.

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