Exactly What We Need

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Do you know what you need to thrive?

Everyone is wired their own way. We get parenting advice and schooling and workplaces that are set up for people who are wired in a certain way, and we might not match that. We are not given a lot of encouragement to figure out what exactly we need to function well. Therapy is seen as a weakness, as is compassion, as is taking a nap.

I’m talking about something beyond knowing if you are an introvert or an extrovert, though that’s a good place to start. Do you get energy from being with people, or from being alone? That’s important to know. I need a balance of both – too much time alone and I feel lonely, but too much time with people and I get overstimulated. I gain energy from being with people, but only to a point and then I need quiet.

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How are you with touch? Do you love it or hate it? Do you want to hide under a weighted blanket, or do you not even want a sheet on you? Are you okay with touch that’s expected – a handshake, a hug you can see coming – but not with the unexpected contact of someone’s hand on your shoulder? My son is very reactive to unexpected touch, but also seeks out deep pressure on his body and rams himself against me. I love cuddles but don’t love being bashed into. Sometimes I get angry when he gets needy – not the best combination we could find.

What about structure? Do you thrive when you know what your plan is, or do you have great creative leaps when you have vast amounts of unstructured time? A mixture of both? How much of a plan do you need? Scheduled minute by minute, or hour by hour, or day by approximate day? I find myself floundering when I don’t know what I should do and I’m alone, but loving unstructured time with other people.

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How much love do you need? How much compassion? How much judgement can you withstand? From yourself or from others? Can you imagine other people having different parameters from yours? Where you might be able to thrive in a milieu of constantly testing ideas to make them stronger, others might need to let their ideas grow from a tender sprout to a more substantial tree before they can handle any critique.

What about joy? What about complaining? Are you happiest when you are discontented? How much joy can you take in? What is your default setting? Is this a setting that can change? Sometimes just becoming aware that I’m seeing the world with fearful or anxious eyes can help me switch to seeing the joy, support, love, and expansiveness that’s available in the world.

Can you imagine a world in which everyone has all the resources they need to thrive? Where everyone can get enough sleep, eat the right foods, have the most comfortable amount of human contact, get the most helpful amount of emotional support, for who they are and what they need?  This is what freedom is, to me. Why we include the pursuit of happiness in our constitution. Because we don’t want anyone to dictate what we should get or do or be. What they like and want won’t fit us. What we like and want won’t fit them. We are all free to figure out what we need and pursue it, and when our needs are met, to figure out our gifts and develop them. To find what brings us joy, and pursue that. To see what lights us up, and spend more of our time lit up from within. Our world needs that light.

All About Me (And, You Know, Not)

I have had the odd experience recently of growing into myself. My friends have seen the strong, powerful woman in me, but I have only experienced myself as the scared girl. Somehow, a confluence of events has been pulling me from scared girl to powerful woman, and it’s strange and wonderful. And about time!

I’ve been a late bloomer all my life – I hit puberty late, I didn’t date til I was in college, I needed therapy to help me figure out how to have friends. I spent a lot of time comparing my insides (scared, depressed, in pain) to other peoples’ outsides (confident, capable, happy) and I was miserable most of the time. I woke up every day of high school not wanting to live inside my own skin, wishing I could just die and end all the pain.

In college I started therapy, which became psychoanalysis, and it lasted 16 years. It got me from suicidally depressed to having friends, and dating, and getting married, and starting a family. I learned how to be flexible and how to connect emotionally and who I was being when I was being me. (The advice to just be myself never made sense – I spent all my growing up years trying to be who I thought other people wanted me to be. I had no idea whatsoever who I was.)

My growing understanding of myself has continued now that psychoanalysis is over. I’m learning from my son, I’m taking my mama bear instincts and learning to use them for myself too. Not only is no one gonna talk to my son like that, no one better talk to me like that either. I’m learning I’m strong enough to walk away and still survive. I’m learning that my boundaries are important and that speaking up for myself can improve my relationships if I do it tactfully.

So – this is all about me, you’re thinking. When does it reach the not about me part?

One of the things I’ve been learning over these last few years is what I do automatically. What my teachers at the Career Wisdom Inst call my design. What I do without thinking, like breathing, and have never valued, since I figured everyone did it. It has to do with play, and creativity, and bringing people together, and helping people learn and grow and connect using play and creativity. It’s what brought me to LEGO® Serious Play®, and this blog, and my business. And when I started to explore it, I felt like I had to make it all happen, and I was afraid I would lose my creativity when I got nervous. And then this amazing thing happened – my creativity, my play, my design flowed through me, like it was coming from somewhere else. I didn’t have to be responsible for it. It was just there.

This is the amazing part. I am not responsible for my gift. I feel like a conduit, like a channel. But I am still required for my design to be expressed – no one else has my channel to tune in to the universe. My link to the wisdom of the universe is unique to me, and yet the wisdom that comes through is not me. Not my limited brain. Not my conscious effort. It just comes to me, comes through me, flowing from the universe that is filled with love and compassion and joy and creativity and hope and connection and peace. I am awed and humbled by this feeling. I have never been super religious, but this feeling of being used by the universe to be of service to others is enough to understand a version of God. I can’t get too excited and proud of what I do, since it’s only partly due to me. And I can’t wait to do it again, to feel that flow and joy and connection, to help other people grow and connect and learn with my unique channel to divine wisdom.

My spiritual teacher says I’m just beginning my journey, and yet I feel like I’ve arrived at a place I never believed I’d see. When I was depressed and in pain I never believed I could wake up happy and excited to begin the day. (And yes, antidepressants are part of my journey, and I’m ok with that.) I feel so blessed to have reached this place, so lucky to have the universe at my back, whispering in my ear, putting me where I need to be. I feel a little weird talking about it publicly, like you might think I’ve gone a little soft in the head. But I feel stronger and more at peace than ever in my life, and I will bring that with me no matter where I go.

This is not to say I don’t have to do anything. I’m continuing to learn and practice my craft. I’m looking for opportunities to help. I’m working to keep my channel to the universe open, including meditation and exercise. (And antidepressants.) I’m actively involved with being me, and bringing me to everything I do, and hopefully to helping other people be themselves too. I love each and every one of you (except you in the back. Not you. Oh ok, you too). Thank you for being part of this amazing universe!

Play well,

Talia