When did it stop being fun to try things we're not already good at? There must have been a time when it was okay to experiment, before self-criticism paralyzed us with its withering attacks. It's so unfair to expect perfection the first time out. Wouldn't it be great if performance didn't matter and we could just have a good time?

I've never been much for sports. I was a fat little kid and missed the skill-building years. As an adult I've continued to avoid the games at company picnics, and holiday barbecues. No thank you. But that's not to say they didn't look like fun. I just didn't want to make a fool of myself.

One day awhile back I dreamed up the notion of a softball team for klutzes. That's what I wanted! Someplace safe, and non-competitive, where no one would be sighing with exasperation if I took too long or made a mistake. The idea became a reality. We even had a coach-- another woman who knew a lot about the game but had never had the nerve to put herself in charge before. It was a glorious day filled with shrieks of laughter and delight at the opportunity to play.

Around the same time I was part of a wonderful group of women who met on Saturdays and did entertaining art projects. We played with Fimo, painted on fabric, made collages, you name it. They had the best toys because they were all graphic designers. I was the only writer in the bunch. For some reason that gave me freedom. I didn't have to compare myself to them because they were professional artists. I was just having a good time.

What makes it safe to do it just for fun? What turns off that nasty inner voice and says this situation doesn't count. You can be exactly how you are and it's okay.

On the times I've succeeded the goal was to feel a certain way, not to achieve a particular result. I chose my companions carefully and stated (to myself) up front that this was not competitive. The only part of that equation that wasn't completely self-determined was the company, and I remind myself that I'm never as impatient or judgmental with others as I am with myself. I suspect that the reverse is also true.

What are your essential elements for safety? What circumstances might give your inner critic a few hours off duty? What would you do if you had total freedom to explore with no threat of self-recrimination? I've always wanted to play the marimbas and go in-line skating (not at the same time). Shall we challenge each other? What will you do?

Author's Bio: 

Liz Sumner, M.A. is a Life Coach who specializes in care of the Self with a capital S. Are you ready to give your Self what you truly want? Try a free, 30-minute coaching call. Find out more at www.WonderfulCoach.com.