Permission to Feel
A Message from Devon
While this game is designed to help folks talk and think about a range of social justice issues, the work of social justice isn’t just an intellectual activity. Becoming socially just involves more than thinking differently - it involves reconnecting our bodies and hearts with our minds. After all, we’re about Visceral change. For a change to be visceral, the change must take place in such a way that it can be felt, experienced on a bodily level.
To add a visceral component to game play, players are encouraged to articulate what’s happening for them on a bodily level while they’re moving through the card decks. Maybe someone feels a pit in their stomach when they engage in debate about racialized identity. Maybe someone else senses heat rising from their chest when prompted to consider how they could take risks to advocate for historically persecuted peoples. Maybe another person gets a tingly feeling in their hands or feet when reflecting on how a common saying or idiom shows up in their lives. All of these are examples of the body communicating something important about itself while it supports the work of the mind. Mapping connections between bodily sensations and thought patterns is important because it’s necessary to learn where, in the body, justice is (or isn’t) palpable. Mapping these connections allows us to show up for social justice with our whole selves.
Along with getting attuned to the bodily experience of game play, players can also acknowledge what’s happening for them emotionally while engaged with the game. Perhaps a sensation of bodily heat is accompanied by emotional anger when a card with a loaded question is drawn. Or maybe there’s tightness in the throat that’s tied to defensiveness when talking about belief systems. Adding the detail of emotionality to the mind-body map will provide even more nuance so that players will leave the game with a precise sense of how/when/where there’s a mis/match between what players say, think, sense, and feel.
For those that take this route to game play, do take care of yourselves and each other. Sometimes our bodies present strong sensations; likewise, our feelings can take on sharp intensity. If this happens, resist the urge to just keep playing. Give space. Be patient. Be present. Though it is important to note that if a player experiences something especially acute or distressing, it can be judicious to seek professional support or guidance for assistance with additional processing.
Devon Kehler, Ph.D.
Kehler Creative Consultancy
Core Five: The Game! Game Content Creator