I'm serious and playful!
The joy of using the right words
"How can I be successful when I'm not a ‘serious’ person?" This is a recurring question that’s getting in the way of my progress in my work, in my life.
It’s frustrating but I know I label myself as a fundamentally 'silly' person, not a ‘serious’ one. Of course, ‘silly,’ and the associated belief that I cannot therefore be serious, is a label firmly, and carelessly flung at me in childhood. I’m certain you have your own version/s of this.
I’ve tackled this issue many times over the years and through various approaches such as writing to the silliness, to my silly ‘self,’ self-acceptance exercises, and therapy, but it wasn’t until today that I cracked it. Hooray!
"Where's your 'adult' Claire?"
I began by looking at the words themselves. ‘Silly’ comes from my ‘child’ - who is unable to rationalise the label away. 'Not serious' is the response that comes from the punitive ‘parent.’ I was lucky enough to be asked by a great coach where my ‘adult’ was in this tangle. Good question. For more on Eric Berne’s model of parent/adult/child, see link below. The Karpman drama triangle could also apply here (victim/perpetrator/rescuer,) my ‘adult’ being my ‘rescuer’ in this case. Both of these models are really helpful in understanding the dynamics we get involved in. If they’re new to you, I recommend you do a little reading, it could be life-changing (links below.)
A complete revelation
So where to start with my trusty pen? I couldn't dialogue with my adult - my usual first point of call - as I didn't have a sense of her in this particular wrangle. So I started just writing about those two words, ‘serious’ and ‘silly.’ Then I dug into each one, looked up the meanings and did some questioning. What transpired was about 25 minutes of writing in total and a complete revelation.
Here's what I learned
‘Silly’ is the wrong word. It means irrational, foolish, ridiculous, weak, weak-minded, childish. Silly is a punitive word. Playful comes to my attention and I realise this is much more appropriate. One description of ‘playful’ is ‘fond of games and amusement; light-hearted.’ Another is, ‘happy and full of energy: eager to play.’ How much more lovely is that than ‘foolish, ridiculous, weak-minded?’ I’m sold. Playful it is. My internal adult (there she is!) now chooses ‘playful.’
‘Serious’ is a bit more tricky. It’s generally used as a word to express the opposite of ‘Silly, light, playful etc.’ Even though it can also mean ‘deeply interested in/devoted to.’ So I hesitate to keep it, but I can’t find a better word that expresses my ‘deep interest and devotion’ to connection, playfulness, laughter etc. Connection is deadly serious to me, without it we are lost and alone. Playfulness is serious, without it I cannot be me. Laughter is serious, again, life without it is unthinkable. The negative side of ‘serious’ for me here, was that I was attaching certain conditions to it. Conditions that meant I needed to be a certain kind of person - not me - in order to be serious. So now, I choose to be playful AND serious.
I will no longer fear serious
I find myself writing: “Fuck it! Yes! I'm playful and I can also be serious. I will no longer fear serious or punish my playful nature. I banish silly from my vocabulary and accept serious. Serious is good when it's about the right things - the right things for me. So yes. I am serious and I am flipping playful!”
Isn’t writing amazing!
I was so pleased with this breakthrough that I wanted to share it with you. I try to share only real-life examples - that I’ve discovered myself - in the hope that it helps you to shift something too.
Why not tackle some of your deep-seated beliefs about yourself?
If you'd like to free yourself from unhelpful labels; beliefs about yourself, then why not try the same steps as I did (obviously if you are inspired to do something different based on what I’ve shared, trust your instincts and do that instead.) Here are the steps:
Write down the unhelpful word you identify with and the word you think you should be, it could be something like, ‘lazy’ and ‘hard-working.’
Look them up, question them, write about them each in turn
Find new words or re-frame the existing words
If you banish a word like I did, you could write a goodbye letter to it, wishing it well
Finally, write a statement, your version of, ‘I am serious and playful!’ and write from that prompt
What writing can do
The amazing power of writing – as a tool – is limitless. For more about how Creative group journaling can help to bring people together, generate creative ideas, solve problems, generate ideas, support well-being and more, do get in contact with me at email@example.com.
Here’s some more information on Berne’s ‘child, adult, parent’ model and Karpman’s drama triangle should these ideas be new to you.: https://www.emotionalintelligenceatwork.com/resources/parent-adult-child-model-basics/ Drama triangle: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-step-out-of-the-drama-triangle-and-find-real-peace/
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash