271: The Importance of Play w/ Boontarika Sripom

The Importance of Play

Join us in a profound exploration of fun, creativity, and self-care in our latest Embracing Intensity Podcast episode with special guest Boontarika Sripom. Dive deep into the significance of play in nurturing personal growth and bringing joy into our lives, especially for the intensely creative and gifted. Boontarika, a life coach with a passion for play and a background in clinical psychology and human development, shares her insights on how engaging in playful activities can foster innovation, relieve stress, and support our overall well-being. Discover the psychological foundations of play, its role in human development, and how to incorporate more playful moments into your daily routine. Whether you’re seeking ways to rejuvenate your creative spirit or find balance in your intense life, this conversation is a reminder of play’s transformative power.

For the creative, differently wired, and divergent thinker, play can be as natural as breathing. For some of us, there are layers of shame or uncertainty that inhibit playing across the lifespan. We may be separated from an essential part of maintaining authenticity. This conversation will explore the power of play, sprinkle archetypal journeys within play and fandoms, and encourage listeners to honor their inner children by playing. To those who continue playing: My inner child honors yours. I just waved at you across the playground. 🙂

About Boontarika:

Boontarika Sripom, MA is a therapy-informed life coach. Her work focuses on coaching using archetypes and understanding the cognition of the differently wired, specifically highly sensitive, creative, and gamer folks. She believes knowledge, guidance, and compassion leads to insights, individual acceptance, and empowerment to change. Boonie is a former preschool teacher, paraprofessional in special education, Outreach Counselor Intern, and College Counselor for creative students. She earned her Master’s in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Her favorite games are Age of Empires, World of Warcraft, and Minecraft. She is currently playing Fortnite, Roblox, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

In this episode:

  • Rejuvenating rest and exploring creativity as self-care with Sharon Burton’s upcoming book release.
  • The significance of play, especially for intense, gifted, creative individuals.
  • Boontarika introduces her talk on play’s importance, touching on her background in clinical psychology and love for video games.
  • Discussion on the psychological aspects of play, highlighting its components like being purposeless, voluntary, and having inherent attraction.
  • Mentions of Stuart Brown and the National Institute of Play, and their work on defining the components of play.
  • Boontarika shares personal anecdotes and illustrations to explain concepts of play.
  • Exploration of play’s therapeutic and developmental benefits, including combating depression and fostering a sense of community.
  • Reference to Jane McGonigal’s works on how games can improve our lives and the role of gamification.
  • Emphasis on the therapeutic aspects for neurodivergent individuals and how play serves as a safe space.
  • Reflection on societal pressures, adulthood’s responsibilities, and the overall decline in play.
  • Discussion turns to practical ways to reintegrate play into life and its broader benefits.
  • Concluding thoughts on the cultural and personal importance of play, inviting the audience to explore their own playful nature.
  • Integrating play into educational settings and acknowledging the varying definitions of play.


* Rough Transcript *

The Importance of Play w/ Boontarika Sripom

Embracing Life’s Intensity: An Introduction

Boontarika: Wherever you’re at in your seasons and cycles of change in life is where you’re supposed to be.

Just remember that if you do stagnate too much, we are here to pull you out. Whether you’re like contemplating and stuck in this cycle of stuckness, If you feel like it is too much, then listen to your gut. If you feel like there’s something here in the stillness, something here, that’s you have to figure out, then that’s important too.

Welcome to the Embracing Intensity Podcast

Aurora: Welcome to the Embracing Intensity podcast. I’ll be sharing interviews and tips for gifted, creative, twice exceptional, and outside the box thinkers who use their fire in a positive way. My name is Aurora Remember Holtzman. After years of feeling too much, I finally realized that intensity is the source of my greatest power.

Now, instead of beating myself up about not measuring up to my own self imposed standards, I’m on a mission to help people embrace their own intensity and befriend their brains so they can share their gifts with the world through the Embracing Intensity community, coaching, educational assessment, and other tools to help you use your fire without getting burned.

You can join us at embracingintensity. com.

Unveiling the Lost Talk: The Importance of Play

Aurora: Hello. This week, I’m sharing one of the talk recordings that got lost in my move two years ago with Boontarika Sripom on the importance of play. You can find the full video and discussion and the guests call library in membership@embracingintensity.com slash join. The topic is timely as I explore more around rejuvenating rest and play is an essential part of that. I’ll be sharing our most recent talk on creativity as self care with Sharon Burton, along with her book release in may. We’ll be taking the month of may off from live calls and resume in June. I’ll be announcing the summer and fall schedule soon. Enjoy.

So welcome. I’m super excited to have Boonie Sripom. Joining us for talking about the importance of play every year. I have at least one person talking about play in some way, because I think it’s very, very important for those of us who are intense, gifted, creative, we need to bring more play into our lives.

So that’s one of the reasons why. She was the first person I thought of when I was thinking about speakers for this year. So I’m really excited to have you and welcome.

Boontarika: Thank you. So I have a presentation for those who are going to be listening on the podcast later. I will provide the slides so you can follow along and I hope you enjoy the presentation.

Aurora: Awesome.

Exploring the Psychology and Joy of Play

Boontarika: So our topic is the importance of play. I’m a life coach for gifted and creative people. I have a background in clinical psychology, human development, and I love play. I love video games. I love the virtual and the tangible. I think it’s all important and can help inspire people towards personal development and growth.

So what is play? I’ve been reading a little bit more on play in terms of the psychology of play before I delved more into the realms of video game play because that’s my first love the virtual computers avatars in virtual spaces, but I think I went backwards to honor More of the OGs, the roots of what does play actually actually mean.

And Stuart Brown is the founder of the National Institute of Play of the US, I think, and he wrote the book play, and he identified that there’s. These components that can shape play very different from a definition of play, so I’ll just describe them very briefly. It’s apparently purposeless. You know, you do it without an aim at the end.

There’s no goal. You just seem like I’m going to play. However, you choose to plan, it’s voluntary. This is about choice. A lot of people have a life where they’re forced to compel to do things out of responsibility. So a sense of play does have a very strong component of you have a choice to do this or not.

There’s an inherent attraction to something that’s very important to we tend to do things. Again, as adults, because we feel like we have to do this. And so the inherent interaction to something again is about choice, about our joy, about some type of theme that were very drives us. And sometimes we tend to overlook that.

Because of the responsibilities and obligations we have in life. And there’s this component of also that freedom from time. When we’re playing, we’re in a state of flow. When we’re playing, we feel like time just disappears. And that’s a huge part of what makes play so essential. Because when you’re living in a day to day work life, It does seem like there’s this drudgery of time.

Things just seem to keep on going. You don’t know when it’s ever going to end. You always look at the clock or a minute seems like forever. But when you’re in a state of play, time just doesn’t exist. And this one’s important to me. Another component of play, it’s a diminished consciousness of self. I feel like when we’re adults, we May or may not have this self consciousness where we have a difficulty trying new things were afraid of failure.

We have this perfectionism layer that does impede a lot of expansion of who we are. And so as Children before society tells them who they are as Children, when they’re playing before they get bullied into these boxes of identity. There is a diminished consciousness of self where we love ourselves unconditionally, and the potential for who we are is endless.

There is also this component of improvisational potential where there’s no rules. Really good play. You can make it up as you go. That’s why improv is very powerful in terms of healing and growing. You get to test identities without any limits on what you can be. And a continuation of desire that’s a paired with inherent attraction.

There’s something that you just keep on wanting to do. It feels good. And that’s a wonderful component of play because sometimes when you’re working, There is no desire. You just do it because you feel like you have to. So here are some cute pictures to get the talk going. There’s a fluffy doggy, a white dog with a froggy toy stuck on his head.

That’s Zucchini. He’s my baby. And I always tell people when I show this picture, that’s him without a filter. He just radiates so much love and whimsy and color that’s just him without filters. The next picture is of someone holding a baby black bat, and the, on the bottom it says I am the darkness.

Oh, you want cuddles? Okay, I give cuddles, but I’m still the darkness, and I think that’s a wonderful theme for a lot of us who feel very dark inside, but we’re also squishy and snuggly and we need hugs. So there’s this duality that can be met through Embracing play and softness. And of course there’s a duck because I love birds.

I think birds are just misunderstood creatures where they are so squishy and soft and cuddly and loving, but sometimes they’re overlooked for their more fluffy animal companions. So this is a video that brought me joy. And play can be filled with so many different things. It’s by Bailey Pickles.

He’s a pianist and he met this musician and they decided to play Impromptu for the first time. And it’s the song called The Nights by Avicii. And Avicii is a DJ and he makes more of electronic music. So it’s wonderful to hear it in a different format.

I just watched it the other day and it made me so happy to hear and see the true joy of their faces and making music together. It was just so magical. And it’s across like this beautiful hybridity of the world of electronic music, the world of classical music, you know, the tangible play and just having trust that someone can read you and play at the same time.

So I love that example of what play can do. It’s just this. Elicit so much joy. I love I watched it over and over again. I loved it so much. So there’s some components also extra components of a play that include Fiero, flow and joy. We just witnessed a bunch of joy together in harmony with two people.

And I wanted to quote Brian Sutton Smith. He is a psychologist who, again, one of the original people who studied the concept of play, the nature of play. And I think it’s important to honor where we come from. His quote is the opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression. And this speaks so much to my heart where I’m looking around and there’s a lot of people who are not playing.

There’s a lot of people who are very devoid of laughter, joy, flow, Fiero, and I’m going to describe a little bit what those terms mean Fiero means it’s what we feel after we triumph over adversity. You know it when you feel it. And when you see it, that’s because we almost all express fear in exactly the same way we throw our arms out over our head and yell.

And this is from Jane McGonigal. She is a game developer psychologist who talks about joy, happiness and how games can improve our lives. She she’s one of my woman crush Wednesdays forever. I have an autograph book. I really love her work. And she talks about how, when we play with other people, the component that is really awesome is Fiero is we have this.

Celebration for the success of other people and yourself too. When you have a game, you’re playing in video games a challenge, like a word puzzle, crossword puzzle. It’s so difficult. And sometimes you just don’t get it, but you get to the point where you’re going for this challenge. And when you get it done, if there’s this rush that comes over you, and it’s the universal of playing.

And then meeting an objective is you throw your arms up. You’re happy. You challenged yourself to grow. And it’s such an amazing feeling. And in the play component of it is it’s it again, it is a universal feeling that there’s something evolutionary about it. There’s something that we need to do because across all cultures, it’s the same bodily reaction to the success of meeting that objective.

And here’s some bubbles. I think bubbles are amazing. There’s this one meme I saw on the internet where you can’t ever be unhappy when you’re around bubbles. Like it’s just impossible, you know, unless you’re like super duper grumpy and like, it’s the end of the world. I understand that. And yet, the grumpiest people in the world.

I doubt that there’s a little tingling of joy that comes into their bodies when they see joy bubbles, or when they see children playing with bubbles. I think that’s something that. It is hard to disconnect from that component of joy when we something see something as beautiful and magnificent as something like a bubble I don’t I can’t imagine I they fascinate me.

They’re just like, there’s it’s so amazing this filmy thing of air it’s iridescent has a beauty brilliance of a rainbow. Right in front of you, and it’s so, ah, it’s so joyful, and I love it. So, here’s some bubbles for you. And this is the amazing part of a bubble too, I thought that someone, you know, when it’s snowing, because I’m in California, I don’t get to enjoy the beauty of snow or colder weather.

I’m in Southern California. I think you could hear my Southern California girl accent now. So when you see the bubbles turning into ice, that’s a fascination too. That’s something incorporated into play. It’s exploring. It’s awe. It’s whimsy. It’s curiosity. How does this happen? I want more of it.

This is brilliant. And another way to enjoy clay is to be silly with the word of the day. And I chose this word, defenestration. A child actually shared this with me, and I thought it was so funny. And what does it mean? Defenestration means to throw the action of throwing someone out of a window. I guess it was a thing back in the day.

And in my mind. For the poopy heads of the world, I wish that we could just throw people out the window to show that, you know, this is not okay, you’re being kind of a jerk, you get to be metaphorically or literally thrown out of a window. I’m just kidding.

The Transformative Power of Play in Adulthood

Boontarika: And on being an adult. So there’s layers for why play is so important.

See that sad puppy. He’s so sad, but it’s so cute at the same time. So like being an adult, it’s rigid. There’s all these responsibilities. We have set roles. We can’t be ourselves. There’s this component again of like, who am I? Is this it in life? There’s these dreams, unmet needs or unexplored dreams that we have because the overwhelm of being an adult is just consumed everything.

We are more self conscious. and serious because we’re not playing anymore. And it’s just a complete drudgery of checking if people are judging you because judgment is so real. People judge each other all the time. It limits a lot of joy from happening. It limits a lot of play from happening. And here’s the added layer too, especially right now, we have a war going on, we have invasions, we have displacement, we have so much pain.

There’s memes that make things relatable. That darkness and pain that’s existing in the world. Like there’s this news outlet NBC that just said major depression is on the rise among everyone. New data shows. And someone commented, who could ever have guessed that a system that forces us to spend 80 percent of our waking hours commuting to working at jobs that don’t pay enough to provide any stability in life would lead to mass societal depression.

And it’s true. We’re really depressed at it’s a collective pain that we’re going through. And one of my favorite books by Jane McGonigal again is called reality is broken. She writes about how society. Is in such a state that there is no joy in everyday living. There’s a imbalance of what we’re doing that video games and gaming is so alluring.

It provides the feedback that we are missing in work. Joy should be part of our work life. Joy should be part of relationships. And sometimes we already know that it doesn’t always exist. And so games can fill that void. So there’s something that can be done to bridge. The gamification, which has been going on over the years gamifying work, making things more playful, very important to have a healthy, good quality of life.

And sometimes we do take it to the extreme. So I do want to acknowledge that, you know, games can be taken too far.

Neurodivergence and the Necessity of Play

Boontarika: So being neurodivergent. So this is for us fellow aliens. This is the added layer. So life is chaotic.

Life is painful right now. The world is falling apart. There’s a lot of pain and suffering. And we’re different. We’re asynchronous. We’re twice exceptional. We’re too sensitive. We’re intense. And we’re treated like we don’t belong. So why would we want to? It’s very hard. It’s a tender, intense painful inner feeling and we see it in the faces that people that look at us the things that people say the microaggressions we treat like we don’t belong. We get the message early and consistently that there’s something wrong with us. So play and escape can very much be our safe places to honor whimsy curiosity and possibility.

And find kindreds, find people like us. And I love that we have this space to talk, to at least share that things are not the best right now. And hopefully we can find ways to connect to the benefits of play. There’s this safety to fail component and exploration of identity that I love about any type of play, whether it’s a video game, whether it’s something as simple as drawing a picture, taking a walk, looking at nature.

There’s a lot of things going on inside of us that we tend not to do unless we are playing. So because of us as being twice exceptional in a certain way, we have this confusing message of you’re perfect. You’re really smart. You’re gifted in some way, and there’s something wrong with different areas of life.

There’s something imbalanced. So because of that, we want to be perfect in what we’re really good at, but that is impossible. We’re going to have to fail sooner or later, but then we debilitate ourselves by not doing the things we want to do, because I’d rather not do because I don’t want to fail. So we get stuck in this little bubble of who we think we are.

So play can help us challenge that perfectionism by doing something that’s low stakes. If the stakes are too high in the real world, you get to play a game. That’s somewhat can remind yourself that, Hey, I failed. I’m going to try again because it’s a game. No one’s judging me in real life. I can play that game.

It feels better to try here because again, no one’s watching me or I’m playing with strangers, you know, no one’s judging me or they don’t know why I’m not doing perfectly in the outside world and that’s okay. And then the question is, are we done growing at X age? Of course not. But again, the messages that we receive is you’re an adult or chronologically, you’re this age, don’t play anymore.

You already chose your profession. You already chose to pursue this. Stop. Like , you can’t pick again. You can’t reroll your character. You already did it. You’re not allowed to. And so play helps again, instill a new message because this is so important for us. Who are divergent thinkers.

We are supposed to have purpose and identity. We are supposed to have this emotional expression and outlet redirection of how people have treated us how society is all over the place of society is how we wish it wasn’t this way. It’s a redirection of all this intensity play helps us do that. And another component for being a neurodivergent asynchronous twice exceptional person is we’re very innovative.

It’s We have all these ideas for how society can be, the potential, the brilliance and beauty of what people can do to make it better. But we can get stuck if we don’t play. Play helps us be curious. Play helps us try and test out theories. It’s like, what if this? What if that? I’m going to try it in play.

I’m going to try it in a world that’s low stakes. I’m going to try it by drawing a picture that no one’s going to judge me on. I’m not getting graded on this. No one’s going to tell me that. There’s something wrong with it. I’m going to do it just because with no rules, no expectations, and that helps you build on your gifts of being able to be innovative.

The Multifaceted Benefits of Play

Boontarika: So more benefits of play. So I used to stream Fortnite. I don’t know if anyone else plays Fortnite here. I play with my friends and I do personality psychology stuff. So I, typed us ENFP, INFP, and INTP.

So, it’s this outlet that I have because I tend to be super, I guess, more calm when I present, when I talk to people, so gaming for me is my outlet to just laugh, laugh, laugh, and it’s a connection from people that I haven’t really ever met. My friends are in Seattle and I think Paris right now.

I’ve never met them, but we play games.

So my friend, he’s not very verbal most of the time, so he’ll just send me screenshots of video games he’s playing. And that’s how we communicate. But it’s just so funny that we know that it’s just not the most typical way to communicate.

So here’s some more benefits of play. It’s small and big wins in a chaotic world.

The number one thing I think about when it comes to play is it’s a choice. Like we said before. In the outside adult world. There’s not many choices that we have. There’s things that we have to do. We have to go to work. We have to make money. We have to think about retirement. We have to pay these bills.

We have to brush our teeth. We have to shower sometimes. And we have to, you know, put on a presentation every now and then to connect with people in the outside world, but like to play. There’s so much choice to pursue challenges. The thing that makes people feel so drained is that the challenges that we have in life, we don’t get to choose them.

So having the choice is so empowering that you get to pick and choose the things that you want to work on. You get to pick and choose what you want to work, walk away from. It’s like, I got to explore more. This is too difficult. I can’t do this right now, but I’ll do it again. And then when you overcome bit by bit, it again, is so empowering that Fierro makes you feel like you’re the most bad ass person in the world because you accomplish something.

But when you do that at work and you don’t have the choice because someone else gave you the challenge, it’s. this feeling of, I don’t want to do it anymore. You know, it’s not that great of a feeling. So having that choice to pursue again is very powerful. And another thing that play can do is you feel competent.

Sometimes when you’re at work, I’m thinking about more people who pursue the grind, right? The everyday, 40 hour work week. That is super, super. I think I’m hoping it can be considered unethical over time. But the feeling of competency is something I think we strive as human beings when we’re twice exceptional.

I think that competency. Is one of the traits that we want in life, we want to feel competent in the realms that we love. And sometimes when you’re working, you don’t always get to feel that way, because people again are judging you or giving you things that are not paired with your strengths. As a twice exceptional person I think people judge you so much that they miss, they misjudge they miss see.

The things that you’re actually good at and they overlook because of our intensity, they look at you’re good at, I don’t think you’re that good at this because you’re doing it in an emotional way. I don’t think you’re good at this because you’re doing it in a sensitive way. So I’m going to give the role to somebody else.

And when that happens, it feels discouraging. So I don’t want to try if someone’s judging me, I’m going to go to the game world, the world of play. So I can feel competent there. I get to choose. Another thing is that you get to help others.

Building Community Through Play

Boontarika: The part of being a social animal is we’re here to help one another grow.

It’s an amazing feeling. Like if you pursued a game or some type of play or interest like playing music making art, cooking planting a garden, all these things, other people may have different interests, but they might be curious too. The wonderful part about that is we get to help others with the information and the experience that we have and let them go on their own journeys of play.

And then we get to feel this awesome sense of pride when they become successful too. And that connects us. It’s an amazing feeling to watch other people grow in the things that you’re interested in too. And the thing that also as a social animal is we need community. Sometimes when you work in certain areas, like I have done before, you don’t feel connected to the people that you’re working with.

You don’t feel connected to the people in your immediate neighborhood sometimes, because there’s not always choice. Sometimes you move somewhere because you have to out of obligation, circumstance, and there is disconnect. When you think differently as well, when you have ideas that other people cannot grasp, there is again an inability to connect on a certain level.

You know, it’s not good or bad. It’s just something we tend to have to accept. And that’s why play is very powerful. We can play through our interests. We can play by, like Cody, he sends me screenshots of his visual novels of all the boyfriends and girlfriends that he’s playing with that are virtual.

They’re not real. But it makes me happy to see that he loves the games and the story so much, you know, and that helps us build community in our own ways. You get to define it how you choose, because again, the rules of society are interpreted a certain way. We’re not really allowed to change it unless there’s an exodus and a mass amount of people redefining.

Redefining Fun and Belonging in a Digital Age

Boontarika: in a certain wave of evolution of society. So before we can do that, because we tend to see things a little bit more divergently already, we get to redefine our own definition of what it means to belong, what it means to have fun and joy. And one thing that also is important, play and creativity for me go hand in hand.

It’s an exploration of what can be. It’s an exploration that not you could not always do when you’re working when you’re in school because they’re still producing cogs in the machine when you’re going to school. So connection and not escaping forever. That’s important.

The Power of Play and Connection

Boontarika: I know that when we decide to play or more in games.

In the virtual, a lot of people get stuck. A lot of people tend to play in video games and they lose themselves. So this is my reminder that connection is important, even if you find in the virtual, but also I have hope that you can find it in the tangible world as well. Please don’t lose hope that there’s someone out there, some people out there that can connect with you outside of the gaming world.

Finding Community Through Gaming

Boontarika: So here’s some examples. So on the left is a screenshot from my family group me. We’re just playing Wordle. Like we’re not even talking. That’s a funny thing. It’s like back to back, like 20 at a time, people just posting Wordle. If you want to play Wordle, I think I I would recommend it. It’s a lovely quick word game.

You know, you could range from five minutes, 20 minutes, depending on how precise you want to be with the word choice and the letters that you’re choosing, but it’s really fun to see us checking in with each other. And it’s like just a catalyst. The communities are catalysts of our connection. It’s not always about the game.

The one thing I have is I’m in Facebook groups for subtle Asian gamers. There’s the women of world craft community, and there’s a board game geek community. All different types of play. And again, it’s not always about the game. It’s just, we have a common interest. Let’s find other things we can talk about to connect our, connect our humanity, connect about our troubles, just uplift one another.

It’s just something that can help us feel like we’re not so alone.

The Healing Role of Play in Personal Growth

Boontarika: Play is also a bridge to repair. So I posted a comment on someone’s thread on Facebook about the game. Elden ring. Elden ring is like one of the hardest games. in the moment right now. You die and you have to start all over.

It’s very difficult where you get hit once or twice in the game. It just, it’s gone. So I put that, I keep dying and crying internally screaming. And these people were responding that, you know, it is a hard game and they’re offering support and tips. And it felt nice because I was having a difficulty in the game and I want to try because it’s a curiosity of mine and I don’t want to do this alone.

This game is where you have to ask other people for help. It’s built on multiplayer interaction. It, you cannot play by yourself. If you do players by yourself, you’re going to get stuck in certain areas and then you won’t grow. So that’s a great metaphor for life, right? You cannot do this alone. You have to find other people.

And that’s like the bravery of asking for help. I’m afraid of, so avoidant person, my attachment style. So instead of asking for help or help, in the real world. I practice playing and asking for help. I practice video games and asking for help. It’s a safer way for me to connect with people. And that’s something again, the reframe, there’s a lot of skills and things we wish we could do, but it’s too hard.

There’s a lot of people we wish we connect with outside, but it’s too hard. There’s a lot of pain. So what can we do to like baby steps build these new skills to connect with people who have maybe harmed us, or at least get closer. You know, I’m not asking you to like, forgive fully and just automatically you’re in my life.

No, no, no. That’s what the, here, let me go backwards. This is what the family wordle is for. That’s what this is for. Like, we’re not talking that much, but at least we can remind each other I’m still alive. Oh, you’re not dead. That’s good. I’m glad you’re not dead. I’m glad you’re playing a game and having fun, but we’re not going to talk too much about the serious stuff, but at least I know you’re alive.

Embracing Archetypes and Inner Heroes Through Play

Boontarika: You know, so the games can do that and archetypal growth is a huge thing for me. I love archetypes. I love heroes. I love believing that all of us have many, many inner heroes inside of us. But sometimes we forget because of the grind. We forget because of the constant having to keep up with the Joneses.

We forget because we’re told there’s something wrong with us. There were two different and weird. And so I love doing inner work. And that deals with archetypes. And when I play, or when I watch people play, I look about, I look at their inner heroes all the darn time. So this is a screenshot from Fortnite.

And once a year is May the 4th. It’s Star Wars Day. And once a year, everyone who plays gets to have a lightsaber. And I love that. So this is a screenshot of me with my niece and nephew. I love them so much. They’re my heroes. They fight for me. They protect me. And every now and then they’re like, nobody kills auntie and they run around and they start knocking people over and then getting revenge for me.

It’s so cute. Because again, like when you’re a child, there’s not much power that you have in the world. So to be able to protect an adult that you love, that’s pretty darn empowering. And I love what that games can do that. So, my heroes, my protectors. We went around just hitting things with lightsabers and it was so fun.

There was no really aim or direction with it. It was just really cool to believe that we could fight. Like Jedi Knights, you know, or, or SIFs, you know, it depends. I have the SIF one and I thought it was pretty cool that I could pretend to be a SIF for a little bit. And you could hit anything. We hit trees, we had bushes, we hit the cars and in real, real life, you can’t do that, but even had the sound effect of the light sabers, and I thought that was really awesome too.

So like hitting things and that’s really cool. So the questions I’m asking when you think about archetypal growth, when you play is which parts of you are you honoring? Which parts of you do you want to explore? Which parts of you want to play? So that’s about the, again, the possibility of being.

We have every single archetype inside of us, and sometimes to grow up, to survive, a certain archetype took over. A certain archetype became that protector to do what needed to be done. Because again, There’s not you have to survive in this world. You have to conform to certain degrees. You have to please people that are in positions of authority and power and control over you.

But as adults, we have more permission to be ourselves. So what part of those archetypes are going to come out now when you play, and then when we don’t play. There’s a lot of stuff that has to be done. So again, I’m going to repeat the questions, which parts of you are you honoring. Okay. Which parts do you want to explore?

Because again, you did a certain role for a certain amount of time. Maybe it’s time for another part to come out. Who knows? And which parts of you want to play? We have to figure that out.

The Transformative Journey of Self-Discovery and Play

Boontarika: And heroic possibility. I pair that always with archetypes. It’s an amazing question to think about too. What kind of hero are you?

Many times we think that at Wish, a lot of us do like, I’m going to pair it with like a lens of codependency. A lot of us may want to have someone save us. That’s Very legitimate. Sometimes people do save us and I love that people can do that. And other times it’s possible for you to be your own hero and it could be in the form of play.

It can be in the form of deciding to put on a different hat when you’re playing. Like I’m always playing like in a different game. I’m always the healer, the helper. Elden ring, I decided to be a fighter. It’s so difficult for me to fight, but over the years, it’s actually kind of fun, you know, I don’t have to worry about helping and healing people all the time.

I’m going to give it a shot and fight for myself and I put on the bottom as my personal example I’m okay with sharing. I survived and left an abusive relationship. It was the worst. One of the worst years of my life. But then that’s like an accumulation of many things that shaped me to be who I was, and I don’t blame the person.

I just think that, you know, there was a barometer of what happened. I openly accepted all these things. I didn’t question them. So now that I’m out of it, I have a new perspective. I can be myself. I can challenge a current identity. I can challenge who I thought I was when I thought I wasn’t heroic.

So that’s why mythology and play and watching films of people being heroic and playing are so powerful because you get to remind yourself again the reframe. Can I be this heroic? Can I be like this? Am I living in a heroic role that honors me? And sometimes we don’t, and that’s okay because we sometimes forget.

We sometimes have to Push through and fight for ourselves. We have to learn how to fight for ourselves. But then the concept of play is we forget to play and then we lose connection with our inner heroism when we forget to play. So here’s my question for you people. What brought you joy as a child?

And try to remember, you know, it’s Like, you have to get it all at once, and you don’t have to play like you were as a child. That’s really asking too much, and not the same as being an adult who plays anyways. There’s this, Again, reframing a new definition you have to give yourself. What does it mean to play as an adult?

What does it mean to play as a joyful adult? You know, and then do you feel like you have permission to play in the first place? That’s very difficult when you live a life where you don’t know that you’re allowed to play now. So I give you permission to play. I give you permission to figure it out. I give you permission to try everything under the sun if you want to, or just try one thing.

For me, play is a huge barometer. For someone’s joy in life, you know, if you can laugh heartily at the things, even though you’re struggling that for me, it’s like, you’re living a playful life. You’re living a joyful life. There’s a little, there’s a sense of acceptance. The life is hard and we can push through life is hard and we can have fun at the same time.

You know, life is hard and I can cultivate my inner hero here and there, even though it is hard because it is.

Practical Tips for Incorporating Play into Adult Life

Boontarika: So here’s some gentle reminders to play. Some examples. So here’s a picture of a ducky in the mirror, and there’s some post its that say, you can do it, be your best self, you’re handsome.

I’ve been called handsome many times, I finally accept that I am a handsome woman. And today is a new day. That’s right, every day is a new day. It’s true. And some gentle reminders to play. You can draw something without an outcome in mind because the outcome is something that’s inhibits us from being free flowing, being authentic and free.

You can sing in the shower because a lot of us are self conscious about our singing voice. Well, no one can hear you when you’re in the shower. You can turn the radio on and sing to it. At least like a low pitch or even in the car. Or outside when no one’s watching like this is the part of like try to do stuff when no one’s watching so you can get those at least build that cultivation of the practice if you do worry about the judgment or the, you know, people staring, because it does happen once in a while but after you practice you get used to it’s okay.

You watch animal videos and send them to someone. That’s the social component. Whenever you do this stuff, try to remember, who can I tell that I’m doing this stuff with? Who can I connect with to just playfully live my life? And for those of us who are more cerebral, who like to research, the things that we’re obsessed about.

Try a new genre to read or watch, because we’re obsessed with certain realms of the subjects that we love. Like for me, I like playing puzzle games. I tried playing a fighting game. It’s out of my comfort zone and I’m learning to enjoy it. I’m learning to enjoy dying in the game. Like it’s actually really fun to have someone kill you and like laugh at the absurdity of dying so much.

So it’s not so bad. Yeah, I said it. I said it. So it’s fun to have someone kill you in a virtual game. And then people actually. When you’re struggling in something that someone else is interested in, they actually want to help you. So it’s really cool way to build community as well. It’s like, you’re struggling.

You’re not perfect because people assume when you’re smart. So there’s so many people who assume like, oh, you’re smart, you never struggle, you must have a good life. So when I share my struggles and laugh at it, it actually helps people, it draws more people to me, to want to get to know me. Like, oh, you’re not up there, you’re not a hoity toity smart person, you’re actually down here with the rest of us.

Okay, I’ll talk to you, I’ll play with you. And I love nature. Pick up a pretty leaf. That’s an assignment. Just kidding. You can go to the garden or sit with the trees. You could ask someone to teach you how to play something new. Improv is pretty powerful and healing. I’ve seen a lot of therapists and helpers take improv, even educators take improv to become better at what they do because it’s again, fluidity flow.

When you have expectation, that’s what sets you up for failure. But if you’re open to the nuances and the changes that come towards you. You can adapt, and that’s what improv can do. Play with children and follow their lead. We have the greatest teachers for joy and play in our lives. If you have access to children, you can watch them, you know, you could just let them remind you what it feels like to not be so bombarded with joy.

Feelings of self criticism by watching children play. And I heard you mention already, Aurora, about Twitch. Go to Twitch. There’s so many streamers who are doing everything. It’s not just playing video games. They have let’s just talk. They, some people who are sewing, drawing, people who are coding. I love watching people randomly do stuff because I’m more of an observer.

And so it’s fun. And you get to engage if you want to. You get to share in someone else’s joy as well. Cook something new. Most of us have to cook. I think that’s a great way to be playful. You can wear a new color. Like I decided to dye my hair pink because I feel pink and I’m going to do it because darn it, I’m an adult and no one can tell me what to do with my hair.

And you could try a new style if you want to try it. Cause I tend to wear solid colors all the time. I might incorporate a design, you know, to be more playful or try something new. Who knows? And you could play with stuffed animals and figurines. I know that’s a very playful thing to do. We can tap into our inner child archetypes.

What are some of the stuffies that you love so much? Bring them out and talk to them. You know, this is my cat octopus. So cute. You know, how does it feel? It’s soft. And think about the sensory. I didn’t put that, but like playing involves all the senses, you know, collecting rocks, other things, making up a silly song or poem, or visit your local board game shop for game night.

There’s many options. And so I hope you feel inspired and encouraged to try something new because play is super powerful and can help us become our best heroic selves. And if you’d like to contact me my email is organized messes at gmail. com. My website is organized messes. com and my Instagram is organized messes too.

So thanks so much for listening and I hope to hear from you and your stories on play as well soon. Thank you.

Aurora: Awesome. Thanks so much. I think this is. Super timely for me because I realized like you, when you mentioned the school thing and how little control they have feeling of that, I realized like, it’s no wonder that with the pandemic and kids coming back, that they’ve all escaped into their own virtual worlds because there’s so little in their external world that they can control.

So it’s got me thinking a lot more within the school setting, like, what can we do to make them feel more of that? Play and that ownership of what they’re doing in that setting.

Boontarika: Yes,

Aurora: so I don’t know if you have any final thoughts

Boontarika: well, as people were sharing, I do have a little note.

Acknowledging the Seasons of Life and Play

Boontarika: Because one of my obsessions is thinking about change and I contemplate it, meditate about change through gardening, watching my plants grow, whether they live or die, how they absorb nutrients and thrive or not, or evolve into their next stage as fuel for the next plant or not thinking about some of us who are not able to play right now.

I’m thinking about it. Those of us who may be struggling, feeling depressed heightened stress for things because the world is not, it’s in, it’s optimal state right now at all, ever. There’s a lot of pain in the world, there’s a lot of crisis, a lot of people where we have to care. I’m hearing there’s a lot of us, we’re all women here we’re the nurturers, we have obligations, we have unspoken duties that people place upon us or we willingly do.

And because of that, There is this emptiness in our cups that we have not filled. And so I do want to honor that because I know that game playing is essential for a joyful life. There’s also this importance to honor what we don’t have the ability to do in the moment, because there’s different stages. I talked about the season.

So we are nature. We have seasons for growth. We have seasons for hibernation. We have seasons for seed planting, and when they’re ready to grow, they will. Us talking about play? is fertilizing soil to play. We’re not there yet for some of us. That’s okay. Wherever you’re at in your seasons and cycles of change in life is where you’re supposed to be.

Just remember that if you do stagnate too much, we are here to pull you out. Whether you’re like contemplating and stuck in this cycle of stuckness, If you feel like it is too much, then listen to your gut. If you feel like there’s something here in the stillness, something here, that’s you have to figure out, then that’s important too.

These are all important parts of who you are. And we’re all living this life at different stages of parts of where we’re supposed to be. So your heroism might look different. Your heroism might be accepting that I’m stuck right now. I have to be stuck right now. There’s something I need to figure out. I don’t know what it is yet, but let me try and think about it in a new perspective.

Let me think about other people who are struggling. What are the things that I wish they could do right now? Maybe I need to do that for myself too. So it’s about speaking up. It’s about honoring your body because you can’t play if your body is not healthy, right? There’s certain things we can do, but listening to yourself.

Learning to be with your body and connecting with the universe. For me, it’s all wholeness. It’s an archetypal thing where we’re connected to other archetypes of the same type. If you see someone who’s a helper to look at, see what they’re doing. Are there at their best selves? If they’re not, what can they do to be better?

Maybe you can do the same thing, you know? And so we’re all connected in different ways. Our archetypes are different. And yet at the same time, there’s so many people who have similar archetypes. So we can find people like us. Who speak to our heart like in inside, you know who you are inside, you know which archetypes are your true archetypes.

And if that’s not the time for them to come out, we don’t know. I don’t know. I’m not sure yet. There’s always a time and place for them to come out and practice and then come back inside. It’s about safety. So if you have a cycle of change you’re going through, you have to know that the environment is safe to if it’s not safe, there’s something that needs to be done first.

And that number one is safety and acceptance.

Aurora: Awesome.

Concluding Thoughts on Play and Personal Growth

Aurora: That was so much to think about. And one of the things that all of this kind of brought up is like, a lot of times when people think of the word play, they think of like, we’re going to sit down and play a board game or we’re going to play a video game.

Like they think of like, Specifically the word game or, you know, any, something that has the word play in it, but like anything that brings us joy, brings us into the moment can be play, right? So I think that’s something and finding it when you think of it that way, it makes it a little bit easier to bring those little bits into your life.

Because you realize it doesn’t have to be this big grand game or. You know, something with the word play in it, anything, if it brings you joy and brings you into the moment. Awesome. Well, thank you guys so much.

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