Let’s promote more Play for Kids and more Vulnerability for Adults!


Vulnerability: a state so often viewed as a bad place, mostly considered as a condition one has failed and unfortunately fallen into. But is it really?

I’ll compare adults with children since when adults get lost in different ways, it is their inner child that gets lost and is in need of guidance so it somehow occurred to me that this parallelism will work. Whilst reflecting the other day in the seaside playground, seated on a bench amongst children and adults, I reached the conclusion that just like unstructured play should be encouraged in children, so should vulnerability be promoted in adults. And I explain myself:

In the playground and essentially in free play kids learn to deal with different dynamics, test their limits, taste acceptance, confront rejection, handle challenges, meet others and in that way get to know themselves! In the midst of play is where they stand their ground, grow strong or even come to terms with being weak…In other words, in an environment where they are on their own, they are forced to put on their survival gear and develop their existential mechanisms, all in all developing the necessary resilience and related tools, essential in their lives ahead, not only to co-live harmoniously, naturally and confidently with others but also to thrive equally well internally in both the less pleasant as well as the pleasant situations of their lives…In free-style play is where they learn to assess danger, lose control or seize control; it’s where they see the ‘I’ in bright light, without the shadows of their parents and at the same time the place where they learn how to slowly let go of the ‘I’ and learn the ‘we’, discovering their boundaries and exploring their abilities whilst they develop the mechanism to tune out disturbing occurrences by finding their own middle ground inside them, which they then learn to negotiate or at the very least vocalize to others.

Similarly, in vulnerability, adults find themselves as they honour their most challenging feelings; and honouring your challenging feelings means you develop a strong internal compass as your inner world learns to handle ranges of emotions and not hide away or panic in the face of “difficult” emotions such as sadness, anxiety, jealousy, fear etc. By engaging and daring to taste our own vulnerability not only ensures we don’t ignore our real feelings but we also avoid going down the wrong paths through making choices based on external influences, overstepping our own gut feelings and true desires. And is it not a phenomenon of our kind to look back one day at our lives and wonder “how did I end up here?!”

Vulnerability, once faced and admitted also allows us to connect to others as in that case humans face one another with sincerity, being courageous to self-expose and stand shamelessly in front of each other in their authentic naked form, with no lies or pretences or self-deception standing in between them creating illusions and distances. Vulnerability bridges people; it bridges you with you and you with others.

And to connect the two – vulnerability and children – what better way to teach our kids to acknowledge and accept all emotions, even the ‘hard’ ones? The message we want to send our children is that it is absolutely fine to feel all their emotions, even the most challenging ones! That’s the best way for them to practise listening to themselves and searching within their hearts and gut for answering their life’s small and big questions. In the end this will mean they are better prepared and able to love themselves and above all, love and enjoy life!

The source of inspiration of the above reflection: interestingly, whilst walking on the seaside I ran into a parent of 3 kids, baby twins and a pre-schooler! I spontaneously and with a bit of humorous admiration asked “how on earth do you guys do it?!?” to which I got an unexpected “oh it’s absolutely great and super easy!” followed by what felt like a non-genuine grin. This person was obviously not ready to be vulnerable. And unsurprisingly so, I wasn’t able to connect with him; You see, as I’ve said before, when it comes to people, “you can only meet them as deep as they meet themselves!

Love & Light,

Tania Pirilidou

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