Why it's hard to just play as an adult, and what to do about it
December 1, 2022
Episode #79: Why it's hard to just play as an adult, and what to do about it
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About the Episode:
Spending dedicated time doing something that brings you joy (with no other purpose than making you happy), is incredibly important.
Why? For one, you're worth it. This alone should be reason enough.
But here's another one, when we play and do things that bring us joy, we help our brain remodel into one that can thrive with life's everyday stressors.
And a thriving brain ensures you are more resilient, confident, and happy.
In this episode, you'll learn why it's so hard for us to do this and how to start.
Get your free copy of the 5 Step Ultimate Guide to Stop People Pleasing here.
Coaching for Latina Leaders
About the Podcast
Leadership ability is equally distributed but opportunity to lead is not. This podcast is for all women, those that identify as leaders and those that don't, yet. You'll learn how to let go of guilt and self-doubt so you can show up with confidence everywhere you go. No more questioning if your idea is good enough to share, if it's worth it to speak up, or if you're a good enough leader. All that self-critical B.S. stops now. Listen in as masterful educator and Harvard grad physician, Dr. Vanessa Calderón, teaches you how to let go of the things standing in the way of your success as a leader. Get ready, this podcast will accelerate your personal and professional growth.
Dr. Vanessa Calderón, MD, MPP has over 20 years of leadership experience. She is a Harvard grad, ER physician, Life and Leadership coach, and a mother of 2. She's a first generation Latina and is dedicated to uplifting her community. She's the founder of the Latina Leadership Accelerator, where she uses education and coaching to support the personal and professional development of women at all stages of their lives and careers.
A coaching and professional development program that will help you be more effective and get more done, without stress and burnout, so you have more time for the things you love.
Learn more and join here: www.vanessacalderonmd.com/join
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Full Episode Transcript:
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79. Why it's hard to just play as an adult and what to do about it
Welcome to coaching for Latina leaders, the only podcast dedicated to the advancement of Latinas at every level of life with your host, Dr. Vanessa Calderon, a Latina with over 20 years of leadership experience, Harvard grad physician, and mother of two.
Hello, my friends, welcome back to the podcast. I am excited to have you here because today we are talking about joy. The reason why I'm bringing you this topic today, is that it's hard for us as adults to play. And how to sort of get over that is because I have seen it to be true time and time again, where women, especially high achieving women have a really tough time letting go. And having fun, and not letting go and having fun in the sense of like I'm at a party, but not doing anything for the sake of productivity, and instead just doing it to do it just to play just to have fun just to find joy. Okay, so this was especially true. And it came up for me a few weeks ago, I was giving this corporate retreat for leaders. And I was walking the audience through an activity called the resiliency building blocks. I teach it in Episode 38, in case you're interested, so go back to that. And listen, if you're interested, where I have the audience rate different domains of resilience and have them see how they're doing and what they can do to be better in certain areas. And the domains are this.
So if you think about the kind of like pyramid, the very foundation of resilience is sleep. And then on top of that is having a lot of hydration, so making sure you're hydrated. And then on top of that is a healthy whole-food diet. And then exercise. And then on top of exercise is joy, doing things that bring you joy. And then on top of joy is mindfulness. So again, think about that upside-down pyramid. Those are the resiliency building blocks. And it's something I created to help me remember that it's so important to focus on the foundation. Before we focus on everything else that we think brings us resilience. For a lot of us it's mindfulness or meditating. But again, meditation is the very top pinnacle of that. Okay, I digress. But if you want more of that, go to Episode 38. But I introduced you to that, because I was doing this exercise for them. And this woman raises her hand in the audience. And she says, you know, wow, I'm really surprised because I do pretty well in most of these other areas. But I'm doing so poorly enjoy. So I have them rate from one to 10. And she rated Joy a three, and she was rating everything else a seven or above. And she was really shocked. And I was not at all surprised because that for me was one of my biggest problems. Every time I would rate myself on these types of scales or do this for myself. It was always so lopsided because joy was something I had always struggled with. And again, the more I learned about why the more not surprised I was by it. So if you think about it, and if this is something you struggle with, think about it, we are right now being raised in this post-Industrial Revolution era, which means we're being socialized by everything around us. And way back during the Industrial Revolution, people's productivity was what brought the money, right?
So the more sort of widgets that they could create, or the more that they could produce in their factories, the more money they would make. So literally, their worth, and their financial worth was based on how productive they could be. And that has been something that has just been trickled down to us from generation and generation, where we are still linking our self-worth to productivity. So of course, it's hard to just stop working and do something that brings us joy that we can just play and do something for fun. Because if we're not being productive, what are we doing, that is ultimately what's behind all of this. So today, what we're going to talk about is we're going to go a little deeper into why it's so hard for us to play and do activities that bring us joy, and then how we can reconnect with the things that bring us joy.
Okay, so let's start by defining what a joyful activity is. So I really like Brene Brown's definition of joy Brene Brown defines joy as an activity that you can do, where you're losing your time in that activity. You're not constantly looking at your watch, you're not constantly wondering how much longer you have to do it. But you're actually doing something that you love so much that you're not even thinking about time. That's a joyful activity. So take a second and think about what is it that brings you joy. What is a joyful activity for you? For me, there are two things I can consistently do. One is I can read a really good novel. So anytime I sit and read a book, oh my gosh, I can just lose myself in that book, especially if I'm reading it by the beach, one of my all-time favorite activities. And the second for me is dancing. I love to jam and I'd love to get down. So dancing for me or reading a book are things that I can do that bring me joy, those are my joyful activities. So what is it for you so We know we have them right? So you probably came up with a few activities that you can do that bring you joy. So even though we have them, it's still hard for us to do the things that bring us joy.
Why is that? Okay? So if you've been listening to this podcast, you know that things always go back to your thoughts or your feelings. So let's talk about what thoughts and feelings get in the way. So if I was going to ask you, what's that number one feeling that gets in the way for you, when you're about to do an activity that brings you joy? What is it? For most people? It's the feeling of guilt. That's right. So what are the thoughts behind that feeling? I shouldn't be doing this. I have so many other things I need to do. But I haven't finished my to-do list yet. And I want to remember when you're thinking guilt, it's because you've now attached some sort of morality to the activity. So if you're feeling guilty for not doing something that brings you joy then inherently you think you're bad, or you're wrong for doing a joyful activity, which again, is kind of bananas. Right? But that's sort of what's behind this feeling of guilt.
What are the thoughts that I often hear come up is, I don't have enough time for that I don't have enough time. Time is such a funny constraint in our minds. You know, I talk a lot about time and efficiency. But underneath all of that is really creating time for the things that bring you joy for the things that you really love. And when you say you don't have time, what you're actually saying is, this is not valuable to me, or I don't want to do this right now, or I'm choosing to do something else. So I want you to remember that next time you say I don't have time. Now when we come back to this and you say I don't have time for things that bring me joy.
Now, I want you to hear this again when you say I don't have time to do an activity that brings me joy. Again, what you're saying is you don't value that, or you don't value yourself, or you're choosing to do something else instead. Okay, so the one thought that consistently gets in the way and causes guilt or causes. Another feeling that keeps you from doing that joyful activity. Is this thought right here? I haven't earned it. I haven't earned it, or I don't deserve it. When I taught when I asked people when I asked my students what was getting in the way, or when I used to ask myself, when will I have time for that joyful activity? What my answer is always worry is Oh, when I get all this other stuff first, or when I finished my to-do list, or when I do XYZ, that'll be my reward. Again, what I'm essentially saying to myself as I don't deserve it yet, or I haven't earned it yet. And that my friends, if that's resonating with you, let me tell you that that's total bullshit. That is a thought error. That is a thought that we've picked up along the way when we started linking our self-worth to our productivity. And again, that's total BS, that is a thought error.
Because the things that make you valuable or worthy, have nothing to do with what you achieve, or how much you produce. You are valuable and worthy just by being. And if you are, you know, a high achiever like I've always been, or someone that links their self-worth to external validation, like I know many of us do. And in order for us to feel worthy, we constantly think we need to be doing something or achieving something. And I know that was especially true for that woman that was in the audience that raised her hand, for so long, her self-worth had been linked to this external validation. This is what she told me afterward. So again, I'm not at all surprised how many of you guys can relate to that. I know I could. So if we think I'm going to walk you through a cognitive thought model, because if your thought is, I have other things to do, or I shouldn't be doing this, or I can't, and it causes the feeling of guilt.
What do you do, you look for other ways to feel your time, and you start doing other things that are not activities that bring you joy, sometimes it is things that you actually have to do, but sometimes it's just busy work that's not at all even effective. It's just crap that you're filling your time with to feel good about yourself. And again, that's a thought error. You don't even need to do half the stuff you're doing but you're doing it because you think that being busy means that you're being productive and you've linked your productivity to your self-worth. Go back to episode number one, if that's something that resonates with you, I talk all about that busyness dilemma. Okay, so if you are now looking for other ways to fill your time because you have this thought I can't or shouldn't be doing this, or I have other things to do. Guess what happens, you never make time for the things that bring you joy. You just never make time for it, it's not something you will ever prioritize until you get over it. And you see this, you see this thought error, you shine a light on it, and you move past it. Okay, I'm gonna share a story about myself because I talk a lot about how Joy was so hard for me.
And this is what's so so bananas when I look at the resiliency building blocks. So funny because I created those resiliency building blocks, I was the person that put mindfulness at the top. And again, it comes from a lot of my own studies and Wellness and Resilience and all my teachers and you know, all the trainings that I've done. But I had put joyful activities below mindfulness. As for me, I still had trouble with joy. Even though I'd been meditating every day, you know, I've been meditating every day for almost 10 years, even though I had been doing that for so many years. And my mind, I thought I was getting better at mindfulness. I still struggled with joy. Why? Because I felt like mindfulness was something that I could achieve. Oh, my gosh, I'm not proud of this. And I laugh at it now and give myself so much grace and compassion. But yeah, I thought mindfulness was something I could achieve, something I could work towards to be better at. So I would I was achieving something. So it was, you know, easy for me to sit and meditate because Oh, I'm getting so much better at this, I'm getting better I could achieve. But with joy, it's never something that I was achieving. So I just never made time for it. Again, not proud of it, but it's something I want to share with all of you because we all have struggles when it comes to this kind of stuff. And I want you to see that we can all move past it once you shine light on your thought errors.
Okay, so how do you commit now to a joyful activity? So the very first thing you want to do when you commit to a joyful activity, and again, the reason why this is important is what will matter more to your brain. And how you create a brain that will thrive in our everyday life stressors, is by creating a brain that is resilient, it's creating a brain that tilts towards positivity, neutrality, or optimism, not our brain that most of us are born with, which is a brain that tilts towards negativity. Because if you do nothing at all, and live your life, with the brain that you have, and do nothing to strengthen your brain muscles of resilience, you will grow up and you will become more and more anxious, more and more nervous because that's what the brain does. Every day, the brain is scanning the world around us every five to seven seconds looking for danger. Which is why when you look at older people, those people that don't have that human connection that never tried to grow that muscle of resilience, what do they do? they're more anxious, they locked themselves in their house, and they don't want to go out and live this big life, because they're afraid that our human brain will tilt towards that because that's how we've survived for centuries. That's the caveman's brain.
But that's not at all the brain we want because we don't need that anymore. We don't need that type of brain anymore. That's why it's so important to create a joyful to create joyful activity and strengthen that muscle in our brain. That gives us a more resilient brain. Okay, so how do we start, we start with the thought that we are worthy, you are worthy, you are whole, you are perfect. You are lovable, no matter what. We start with that thought and believe that thought, again, you are worthy. You are whole, you are perfect. You are lovable no matter what. Now, for many of us, it feels like yeah, you know, I kind of understand that I kind of believe it. And we believe it at a cognitive level. But we don't really believe it in our bodies, we don't feel it. We don't live into this. Now in order for us to do that, what I want you to do right now is imagine a picture of a beautiful baby. If you're a parent, I want you to imagine a picture of your baby, or any other baby out there that you know, imagine that beautiful baby on the day they were born, how beautiful that baby was. And look at their face. Look at how much they want to be held, and how much love you want to give them.
Look at how perfect they are. And I want you to see how you will love them no matter what you will keep them warm and close, you will feed them because they're worthy. Just because they're born, they're worthy of that love you're gonna give them they're worthy of that food you want to give them they're worthy, have been held, have been shot so they stopped crying. They're worthy of all of that. Now I want you to imagine that being you. Because you are worthy of that same love of that same compassion of that same caring that every baby that is born because you were once a baby and there is nothing that you can do. That would take that away from you. Again, you are worthy, you are whole, and you are perfect. You are lovable no matter what. Now, you might have one of three reactions when I say this to you, number one, you might feel nothing at all. You might feel absolutely nothing you might be like, Yeah, of course, I totally believe it, as I said earlier. And that's because you sort of know that that is should be true. You cognitively believe that should be true. But you've never questioned that, like, do I really believe that for myself? If I do, do I treat myself the way we treat somebody else, that whole, imperfect and lovable, and worthy no matter what?
So if that's you, and you don't feel anything at all, I want, I want to challenge you and say, perhaps you're not really feeling this in your body, perhaps this is something cognitive that you haven't really lived into. Now, the second reaction you could be having is you might feel uncomfortable, I might say that you and you might feel uncomfortable. And discomfort is a great sign discomfort is sign that it's something that we should be exploring. So if you're feeling that discomfort, that's really beautiful, I want you to feel that discomfort and say, Where's this coming from, perhaps you're feeling that discomfort, because you know that this should be true, and you want to believe it, but you're not all the way there yet. And it's making you feel uncomfortable because you want to believe it all the way. That is really beautiful.
That means that you have that level of awareness. And that is the very first step to living a life of intention to living a beautiful life that you curate for yourself. It's knowing that this, that this is true, or want to believe that this is true. So if that's you, that's beautiful, and I acknowledge you. The third feeling you might have is you might feel expansive because you actually already believe this, you already believe this. And if this is you, I'm giving you a huge Virtual hug because I know it's not easy to get to this point. And I acknowledge you for being there. I think that that's so beautiful. For me when I was putting this podcast episode together, and I said that line, you are worthy, whole, perfect, and lovable no matter what I said it again to myself, and I was like Hell to the yeah, I am. And I feel this now, and I believe it now and I'm just I'm so proud of myself for being here now. But this was a journey, my friends, I didn't always believe this. Not at all, not by any means. And so I just want you to know that if you're not there yet, you can get there. And all you have to do is just practice. In fact, now I have this beautiful baby picture of me that I keep on my desk. It's sitting right here next to me as I record this podcast. And it's a picture of me smiling at myself, I think I'm two and a half or three years old in that picture. And every time I look, I remember how beautiful and how whole and how perfect and how lovable I am no matter what. It has given me so much confidence and just so much self-compassion. Okay, so when you start with that thought, when you start with that thought, let's finish that off. What feeling does that create for you?
When you fully believe that you're worthy, that your whole that you're perfect that you're lovable? What does that create for you? For some of you might create a feeling of completion. You might feel certain like me, like Hell yeah, I believe that. That's my truth. You might feel happy, you might feel joyful, you might feel expansive. So then what do you do? What do you do when you believe this and you feel happy or joyful? What do you do? Let me tell you some actions that I started to take once I fully believe this. Number one, I rested. I rested my body and I wasn't always trying to get up as early as possible and go to bed as late as possible and get as much work done as possible. Between those two hours. I started to rest because rest was so important. And I realized, wait a second. If I'm already worthy, whole and perfect, and lovable no matter what, then I don't have to do anything else. I don't have to prove anything. I don't need to earn rest. I can rest right now. So I started resting. And I started relaxing. I graciously started saying no to things that didn't serve me. What does that mean? I started creating boundaries. That was not easy. My friends. I have a lot of podcast episodes on boundaries because it's something we all struggle with. And again, part of it was because I thought I had to keep saying yes because I was addicted to external validation. And so I graciously started creating boundaries. I slowed down. And here's the kicker, I started playing. I played and I didn't just play with my kids. I have two beautiful young children and I didn't just play with them. I played with I played alone. I did things that brought me joy just because I wanted to and that was one of the most rewarding things that I could have done.
Because the more I did that the When I started resting my brain, and the more I started resting my body. The more charged up I was and more creative I was to put out more content into the world that was beautiful and supportive and healing. And all because I believed that I was worthy, whole, perfect, and lovable no matter what. No matter what. I didn't need to do anything else to earn that that was it. I was just that person. That was it. Because I believed that every baby is born that way. Which means I must also have that too. So guess what I created in the world. So if you follow that cognitive thought model through your thought creates a feeling that thought you were worthy whole perfect, creating the feeling for me of certainty, of expansion of joy. So what did I do? I rested, I relaxed, and I graciously said no to the things that didn't serve me anymore. I started creating boundaries. I slowed down, and I started playing. So what did I create? When you look at my results line, I became a more lovable person. I started increasing my own self-confidence because I was okay saying no, and I started becoming more and more authentically me. I started playing music and just dancing for the hell of it because I wanted to dance. And I used to have dance parties for my kids all the time, and I would dance with them. But now I was doing it by myself. Because why the hell not? That's what I love to do. So what I want to leave you all with is this. Number one, again, you are worthy, you are home, and you are perfect. You are lovable, no matter what. feel that in your body. That is the truth.
If you have a thought coming up for you right now that's saying yes, but that is BS, those are thought errors. Those things are not true. Fuck that. Those things are not true. Instead, live into who you really are this beautiful, whole, worthy human being, and commit to doing a joyful activity. You already came up with a few at the very beginning of this podcast episode, I said, Think about some for yourself. What is that choose one, choose one and start seeing like, where in my day? Could I start doing this? Again, when we start doing this, we remodel our brain to create a brain that's more resilient, that's more joyful. And we start becoming more confident we start loving ourselves more, we become more authentically us. And that right there is the ticket to life becoming the most you possible. Okay, my friends, I will leave you with that. Have a wonderful week, sending a lot of love. And I will see you all next week in the US
Hey, if you love what you're learning, then you've got to check out my free Ultimate Guide to stop people pleasing, where I teach you a simple five-step process to stop saying yes. When you really want to say No, you'll be so glad that you did. There's a link to the guide in the show notes. I'll see you next time.