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When we play, it often feels like we are reacting instinctively; our minds and body become seemingly hard wired to the moment and we allow ourselves to act without thinking.
We often do things without thinking about them or say things things without thinking about what we are saying, only to find ourselves reflecting on it afterwards. When deep in play, our minds are not full of conscious thought (that is so consuming post play), we simply play. This way of being often feels great. liberating, nostalgic even. So why, as adults, is this state of play so unusual. Why, when we grow older, do we not allow ourselves to become deeply immersed in the moment, and act free from judgement-without a care.
Playing when we are young is natural, and essential to our learning. Yet when we get older, it becomes refreshing and sometimes even scary. Over time, our conscious minds become concerned with more 'serious' aspects of life, like achieving a to do list or maintaining full control. We may find ourselves often belittling the act of play as something without purpose or value. "How does it help us pay the rent? We should be training/working instead!"..."How does it help us with our career?"..."What will other people thinking of me if I act like a child"...and so on.
The older we get the more our pre-frontal context grows and naturally we become more consumed with seeing the world through this lens. Our cognitive explicit system takes the reins and we start filtering every moment through thought and some kind of analysis. This process becomes preferred way of operating through most styles of education and work. Indeed, we use our conscious lens to help us meet our internal desires, keep us safe, and become social acceptable. In this process of continual conscious processing, we develop and become more and more attached to a self-image or self-representation of ourselves that we project to others; often referred to as our ego or super ego. This projected self-image is generally built on the premise (collection of thoughts) of what we believe others want us to be. We start changing the clothes we wear to meet the projected self image we have made up, and even change our friends, our jobs and our hobbies to keep this self image intact.
For many, affirming this self-image is critical; we spend our hours climbing the social ladder or improving our social status in the hope of strengthening this projected self. All the time, assuming it is improving our self-worth, resolve, and identity. Though the reality for many is that it further creates a need for affirmation, acceptance, and continuance. Rarely does it meet our fundamental authentic human needs, rather it keeps us pre-occupied and entrenched in thought ensuring our ego is matching up to the consensus.