Have you ever watched a child play? What have you noticed? Children play with all other children. The color of their skin, the shape of their bodies, the level of intelligence—none of those things come into play when kids are running together on the playground. They simply walk over to a person their own size, say “Hi!,” and start playing as if they’d known each other for years.
Kids run freely. Kids laugh freely. Kids play freely—without judgement, fear, or worry. They jump in puddles, they giggle with their whole hearts, and they don’t hide their emotions.
So, what changes? Why do adults have so many more invisible boundaries than children? Why are we squeamish to sit next to a “stranger”? Why can’t we dance in the rain or sing out loud without fear of judgement? Why is it such a bad thing to cry when we’re sad—or happy—or laugh a full-bellied laugh when we’re overjoyed?
Let’s find out. Start your own social experiment. In the next few days, observe those around you. Notice their facial expressions, reactions to certain situations, and body language—why does that girl always stand with her arms crossed or that man lean up against the corner, seemingly shirking the office crowd? Really pay attention to the little nuances you see. Once you’ve gathered enough information on those around you, start noticing your own quirks. How do you react when you’re uncomfortable, sad, angry, or happy? Do you really need those crutches?
As you become more aware of yourself, drop your crutches one by one. This might leave you feeling a bit exposed, but once you become comfortable with the new version of “you,” it might help you to see something powerful emerging from within. Little by little, try laughing, or jumping in puddles, or talking to someone that’s out of your “comfort zone” (or what you imagine your comfort zone to be) until you develop a deeper awareness of yourself and what it means to free yourself from the boundaries you’ve created. You may find an intense connection with a person you were afraid to approach before, and wonder why you ever judged in the first place. That’s a good thing. It’s a sign that you’re changing from deep within. Keep going!
Continue on this path until you can smile with your whole heart like a 3-year-old boy seeing a construction truck and giggle like a group of 7-year-old girls planning their birthday parties. In other words, continue letting go of what holds you back until you are truly free.