Friday, June 24, 2011

Playing isn't just for kids....

Remember when you were young and everything was some kind of a game? As adults we tend to focus on work and responsibilities. We feel like we don’t have time to play. It seems to be a waste of time as we face the long list of things that we must do. When we do have a free moment we would rather just rest of zone out in front of the TV.

Working with children, I get to see the value of play everyday. Children work through their challenges with play. They learn social skills and how to navigate the world, all of this while having a great time. We could learn a few lessons from our children.

Play may look different with adults. It may be a hobby, goofing off with friends, or playing sports. These may sound like things we do if we have the time, but they should be things we make time to do. Play for adults has numerous benefits. It relieves stress (and we all know the negative consequences of stress) and connects us with others (it is a great way to keep relationships fresh and exciting). Play is also important to our physical and mental well-being. It may get us to exercise, which in turn will help us feel good, stay in shape, and sleep better. Much like with children play can help us work better with others, improve our social skills, and foster creativity and learning.

So the next time you feel tired and depleted try playing. The benefits are worth it!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Something to think about....

I went to a daylong lecture a few weeks ago which was lead by Kenneth Hardy, PhD. This workshop was fascinating. I could go on for pages about all the interesting points and insights that came up during this workshop, but what but what I really wanted to share was a relatively simple concept that came up over and over again: Validation.

Whether we feel devalued because of our skin color, our preference for the same sex, being born into poverty, or because of our country of origin, it doesn’t matter. As you can imagine feeling as though you don’t have value can lead to various difficulties and challenges in life. It impacts us all, and is a critical component in how we think, feel, and behave. We are all human with our own struggles and we all want to feel heard and more importantly validated. As Dr Hardy shared, the cure for feeling devalued is to be validated.

I wanted to take a few minutes to encourage us all to look at the ways in which we contribute to making other’s feel devalued. We devalue others all the time without thinking about it. When we make fun of someone else’s culture, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, etc. When our child has a bad day at school and we reprimand rather than listen. When we pass judgment on someone based on the way they look. When we are having a disagreement and find ourselves fighting to be right without ever trying to really hear and understand where the other person is coming from.

Validation doesn’t mean you condone poor behavior, it just means you understand where it comes from. Validation doesn’t mean you agree with someone. It simply means that you can see where they are coming from and that they have a different belief or experience than you do. My hope is that we all become more aware of how we devalue others, and at times even ourselves. Whether it is that you pass less judgment on a stranger based on their appearance or you validate your child’s thoughts and feelings more today than you did yesterday. Maybe during a heated discussion with your partner you validate their experience and feelings instead of focusing on winning the fight. Maybe we take a few minutes to understand someone’s anger instead of becoming angry ourselves.

In the end, we all have the same need to be heard and feel that we have value.