Do you feel bored and uninspired? Do you want to unlock new levels of your creative potential and unleash your imagination? Do you wish that instead of an endless slog, you could give yourself permission to play?
In this episode, we’ll be exploring how overlooked fun and play are as part of self-care and expressing ourselves creatively as individuals. We’ll look at how we can access our playfulness and how it can impact our creativity and the rest of our lives.
Find out more about The Monster Project at: https://themonsterproject.org/
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For episode transcripts visit: https://camillafellasarnold.com/category/podcast/
Welcome back to Creative Power! I don’t know about you but the last couple of weeks have felt really full-on and I am tired. In the episode I did with Emily Tuck about the Spring Equinox (episode 16 if you want to go check it out) we talked about this idea of new ideas emerging but also the 27 reasons why you might not feel ready or able to take those ideas to fruition were surfacing too.
We’re not quite in that season of all systems go like we will come Beltane in May. We’re still building momentum and realising that there’s maybe some stuff we’re carrying that we still need to clean out before we’re ready to really dive in with those exciting ideas.
And on that note in the last episode, I talked about how healing our inner child can help unlock new levels of creativity and we explored exactly how to go about starting that process.
Now when we’re dealing with traumatic memories from our childhood that we’ve hidden away and refused to look at for so long, it IS heavy. It IS painful. There’s no denying it. They don’t say ‘no pain, no gain’ without good reason. Because you have to kind of… grow through what you go through. On the other side of it, is all kinds of potential and possibilities that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise access if you were still sitting in the pain.
But for a lot of people, this process of facing those things that hurt our inner child and are now holding us back, it’s going to take time.
And also think about interacting with children, it’s a slow, gentle process. They want to feel safe before they’ll talk. Your inner child is exactly the same. You may have an inner knowing that something from way back way is blocking your creative flow but your inner child isn’t ready to bring it up yet. That’s okay. Totally okay. Completely understandable even!
So today I want to talk about the flip side of the inner child because this is another way we can ignite our spark, unlock passion and potential within ourselves; when we’re having fun.
Because you know what, we have this incredible opportunity here to co-create with the universe every day. And most of us don’t realise we have that power but as Bob Proctor said, quote-unquote, ‘thoughts become things. If you see it in your mind, you will hold it in your hand’.
Every day we unconsciously pour energy into worrying about things, stressing, feeling angry, sad etc. And we walk around kind of like magnets, attracting more of this energy into our lives. So what would happen if we threw caution to the wind and focused on fun, laughter, abundance and feeling carefree?
For a start, it would make us happier, right?
I know it’s easier said than done because humans are kind of hardwired for suffering so fun, play and joy really go against the grain for us as a people. Have you ever watched The Matrix? In it, Agent Smith talks about how the first Matrix was designed to be perfect. No suffering, just pure happiness and the whole thing fell flat on its face because people couldn’t accept it because so many people define themselves through their suffering. Sad but true.
So in order to even get started bringing out your playful side to unlock your creative power and potential, you’re going to need to give yourself a whole lot of permission and reassurance that you’re even allowed to come out and play. Because it’s not a default state of being so it feels alien to us.
But if you’ve caught yourself feeling tired, stressed, worried, overwhelmed, burnt out and just apathetic to life at all recently, you need to hear this and take action.
Last year I was seriously burnt out. All the things I am passionate about, at that time last year I couldn’t have cared less about any of it. I felt bone tired. It’s a weariness of the world that a good night of sleep doesn’t remedy because it all feels like an endless, unhappy slog.
And you know what, we’re miraculous human beings. Life is for living, experiencing and enjoying as much as it is growing. A life of endless suffering isn’t much of a life. So when I was working out how to heal my burnout and after spending ages reading articles online and getting the same unsatisfactory answers, I asked myself, what did I actually want? Yes, I felt burnt out, bored and tired of my life so what did I want instead?
The answer came to me as a simple word: happiness. I wanted to be happy. Isn’t that something we all want? And the beautiful thing is, it looks different for us all. And all of those variations are valid.
So then I thought back to times when I was truly happy. I spent time thinking about activities that really brought me joy and fulfilment and I also noted what things didn’t bring me joy. I started to turn up to my desk every day asking myself, ‘where is the joy for me today?’ And I followed it. It meant that a lot of projects changed shape or even got dropped entirely. I spent time working out how to automate things I didn’t enjoy doing because I wasn’t in a position to outsource to a virtual assistant at the time so it really streamlined my business and my life.
Because that’s kind of what joy and happiness does. It simplifies everything. And being playful is part of that joy and happiness.
I know this can bring up objections like, oh but Camilla, I’d feel so selfish ditching everything to go play.
Truthfully, bringing out your playful side doesn’t mean you have to ditch everything you have and start again.
What I mean by bringing out your playful side, is to bring yourself into total alignment with all the facets of you. We often focus on that suffering, that wounded version of ourselves like I mentioned earlier.
But that means we neglect to include the fun, happy, playful side of ourselves. And yes, it does exist. We’ve all been children. We all knew how to play once upon a time.
So how do we connect with that side of ourselves again?
Looping back to what I said at the beginning of the episode, first of all… give yourself permission to play.
It’s not selfish, it’s not silly, it’s not pointless.
It can actually make you more creative, more in flow, more magnetic to other people. Because joy is infectious.
You know how I know that? Because if you get me to really, really laugh, I start to sound like I’m a hyperventilating kitten on helium. I’ve been told my laugh is hilarious. And when I was at college, I remember in my photography class, my friends were falling over themselves trying to get me to laugh because it was funny and adorable. They wanted to laugh WITH me but the only way they knew how to access their own joy was by getting me to start my crazy laughing.
And often, this is the case. We struggle to access the fun on our own because we feel silly and self-conscious.
So giving yourself permission to be silly is really, really important.
If you have children, playing with them is a great way to help you access your really playful side because they are already tuned into it in buckets and spades. And the best way to do it is to ask to play an imaginary game with them. I don’t mean go play Hungry Hippos or Kerplunk, I mean, go outside and fight dragons in the woods with them.
Tell a story together and make it as outlandish as you can. Children bring the unexpected and once you allow yourself to hang up your serious, logical, adult brain, you’ll be able to fall into wonderland with them and access that playful side.
Now, what about if you don’t have children yourself?
Just because it’s the easiest way in to accessing your own playful side, doesn’t mean it’s the only way. And it also doesn’t mean I’m advocating going out and kidnapping a child or rushing to have kids of your own just so you can access your playful creativity. None of that is cool. And it’s also not the only way to get there, don’t worry. I don’t have children myself so I hear you.
One way you could access your playful side is through something called The Monster Project which I’ll link to in the show notes. It is a project where artists around the world take children’s drawings of monsters and illustrate them in their own artistic styles to bring them to life. It’s a really fun project which I think is a great way to get those creative juices flowing.
They run a challenge on Instagram called #MonsterProjectUNITE where you can see how artists all around the world have reimagined monster drawings done by children and the level of skill and talent on show is amazing. It’s fun and free-flowing, there’s no right or wrong way to approach it and every single reimagining is unique. If you’re a visual artist looking for a way to kickstart your playful side and do something really different from your usual work, I highly recommend getting involved. Like I said, I’ll link to the details in the show notes and if you have a go, please let me know and share your work because I’d love to see it!
Because here’s the thing, playfulness, joy, creativity, happiness… they’re magnetic. They’re infectious. They all feed off each other. The more fun you’re having doing something and really allowing yourself to be completely immersed in it, the more it lights you up.
And when you’re lit up about something and you tell or show other people about the exciting thing you’re doing, it lights them up too. Because 1) they’ll love to see you excited about your thing and 2) it can inspire them to go in search of their own fun and happiness. That way we can actually create a ripple effect of creative joy going out around the world and wouldn’t that just be the coolest thing?
Because artists and creatives often feel stuck in this starving, suffering artist mentality. That we have to bleed for our art. I don’t buy into it. I want to see what we can create when we’re coming from a place of pure joy and ecstasy. I think it would be even more powerful and inspiring to be honest. And the first step towards that is on an individual level so, where is your joy.
Going back to what I mentioned in my previous episode about healing your inner child and this question becomes even more important and potent now we’re reframing it towards bringing out our playful creative side. What did you do as a child for fun?
What were the activities you could do for hours and completely lose yourself in?
And that idea of completely losing yourself in the activity is actually really important for working with your playful side in my opinion. We spend an awful lot of time multitasking in our heads. We’ll be working but also mentally making a shopping list or working out what to cook for dinner later. Our thoughts are scattered, stressed and focused on the seriousness of life.
But when we’re playing… we’re really lost in that moment. It’s true mindfulness because we are totally present. And that state of being totally present is where the magic happens. Because we’re not reflecting or projecting or stressed. ANYTHING can happen. The magical and unexpected can arise because we’re allowing things to flow and that’s when things can get super creative and exciting.
So going back to my original question… where did you lose time as a child? What were you doing?
And when you have some answers… how can you translate those activities in to the here and now? Admittedly, initially you might feel silly doing those things again. That’s usually the first thought that comes up in order to stop you in your tracks from even starting.
But if you push past that and dig out the lego or the finger paints… Perhaps it’s cloud watching or baking or creating dances to your favourite songs… these are all simple things. And once you push past feeling self-conscious or silly and re-experience the joy of the activity, it invigorates you.
Joy, happiness, playing… I honestly think they are what need to go at the top of people’s self-care lists. Yes, bubble baths, face masks and naps are great and important. But after you’ve done them, you’ll still feel the same.
Having fun with life and playing energises you in a completely different way that is just as important and often overlooked or not even recognised. And it enhances and refreshes your creativity too. If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself. People who are having fun and enjoying life always have boundless energy. So give yourself permission to tap into that too.
Like I said, start small and simple. Recapture activities that brought you joy as a child and see how they reignite you. Or what new activities, movies, music etc bring you joy now? How can you bring them more into your every day? How can you feed them into your working day?
Allow for the unexpected to show up. Believe in magic, fairies and possibilities.
And most of all, give yourself permission to play. Your future self and your inner child will thank you for it.