I learned *A LOT* from my year as a volunteer at Healing House in Lafayette, Louisiana. Healing House for Grieving Children is a bereavement center providing resources, support, and small group time for kids who have lost an immediate family member.
For a center dealing with bereavement and death, it taught me more about life and healthy coping skills than just about anything else I’ve encountered.
One of my favorite things I learned was: The Two Rules of Healing House.
You see, the kids could use their small group time to do or say or be whatever they wanted in order to express their grief and personalities.
It was really REALLY cool to see.
You want to color in the art room?
You want to color on the walls of the art room?
You want to mash all the play-doh colors together?
You want to wet the play-doh and throw it at the wall?
(pro-tip: wetting the play-doh ball slightly makes it stick to the wall better)
Go for it.
You want to read silently and not talk to anyone?
You want to speak in a British accent the entire night and tell everyone you’re from London?
(Note: all of those happened in my group at various times. And I have so many more wonderful examples if you’re curious!)
There were just two rules:
All thoughts and feelings are ok
You cannot hurt yourself or others
So, do you feel like punching someone?
Well, that’s ok.
Because all feelings are ok.
But you can’t actually punch anyone, because that would hurt them.
And that breaks rule #2.
Do you have an idea to pile all 40 of the bean bag chairs up into a tower and then jump off?
Well, that’s ok to think about.
But you can’t actually jump 10 feet off the bean bag tower onto the bare floor because that would hurt you.
(We compromised by leaving half the bean bags on the floor, and making a shorter tower with the other half so the jumping wouldn’t hurt anyone. Only one bean bag chair was lost due to impact.)
Having only these two rules opened the kids up to embrace their creativity and imagination. Being unencumbered by rules and expectations was freeing for them.
And if it was so beneficial, so freeing for them…...couldn’t it be also for the rest of us?
What if we lived our lives by those two rules - and only those two rules?
Would we be more open; more free?
More willing to connect, put ourselves out there?
More innovative, more vulnerable, more curious?
Would we try new things, take more risks?
I think we would.
And I think if we abide by these two rules, everything else - all the other rules and laws and expectations and social norms - falls into place underneath them.