Pliable... or Playable?


Episode 17 of the Emotional Freedom for All Podcast

We’re humans. We were born pliable. We adapt to different climates. Cold and warm, scary or pleasant weather. Cold and warm, scary or pleasant people.

We were also born playable. We’re susceptible to being manipulated by others and by our culture.

And there is a question we can ask to help us not be so susceptible… to give us clarity, calm, and confidence.

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Pliable…or Playable

Rick: Pliable… or Playable.

[00:00:03] Apparently I am going to Iceland soon, or at least that’s what Instagram is trying to convince me.

[00:00:11] You see… I don’t use Instagram very often, but when I did earlier on, my friend was thinking about going to Iceland and I would like all of their posts.

[00:00:21] That led to more pictures of Iceland and more likes, or at least time spent staring at them… watching the videos. Since then Instagram has been playing me… the invitations to come visit stay.

[00:00:39] Oh, you like to swim. Here. Look! Hot spring.

[00:00:44] You know… We’re humans. We were born pliable .

[00:00:49] We adapt to different climates.

[00:00:51] Cold and warm, scary or pleasant weather.

[00:00:55] Cold and warm, scary or pleasant people.

[00:00:59] We were also born playable .

[00:01:01] We’re susceptible to being manipulated by others and by our culture. Things like status play to our primitive brain. Fitting in plays to our primitive brain.

[00:01:18] A fear of missing out plays to our primitive brain.

[00:01:22] So guess what? We’re playable on those fronts and some others. You see it.

[00:01:30]Once you become aware of how playable we are as humans, and then you make it personal, like, okay, how am I playable?

[00:01:43] You start noticing things.

[00:01:45] For me, a huge breakthrough was becoming aware of the fear of missing out. Some people call it FOMO. The fear of missing out was a susceptibility for me. If I felt I might miss out on something, particularly something like technology, I would be drawn to buying it, investing time and energy in it.

[00:02:06]And once you become aware of how you’re playable in relationships or at work…

[00:02:11] Like… if you were to look at the people that you’ve worked for. And you Look at what they did that made you feel like you had to whatever, work the weekend, answer the calls and emails in the evening. Whatever made you feel like you have to, I believe is a way that we’re being played.

[00:02:33] Now of course, sometimes we’re played because a punishment being fired or being left. Or being outcast from our group of friends or people that we care about. Well, those are real punishments that our primitive brain is aware of and it makes us susceptible to being manipulated, exploited even.

[00:02:57]Now, I believe and I, I celebrate the pliability of humans.

[00:03:02]We can adapt. Adapting is an amazing capacity that we have… to adapt to different environments, including different emotional environments.

[00:03:16] We can also be pliable in what’s acceptable to us in a particular situation. Indeed. I think part of resiliency goes to flexibility and adaptability.

[00:03:33]However, emotional freedom isn’t felt when we’re being played against our will.

[00:03:40] So what do we do?

[00:03:42] Here’s what we can do. If we feel like we have to do something. Or should do something, especially if the impulse for that is coming from outside of us, ask what makes this really matter to me? What makes this really matter to me?

[00:04:09] Going back to Iceland. Well, I love beautiful places.

[00:04:12] I happen to live in one.

[00:04:14]It matters to me to have a place that has great energy, but what really matters to me is right now to be around home and the area that I love. It really doesn’t matter to me that much right now, where I am with a new baby, to think about traveling to Iceland. And so once I become clear what matters to me, well, it’s not travel to Iceland.

[00:04:47] And if you look at things that you’re. Wanting to buy or groups that are calling to you to be a part of their program or whatever, including our own at Thriving Now… look and ask what makes this matter to me?

[00:05:05]I believe that as we look at and become sensitive to the things that play us, it’ll allow us to pause. So for example, if I know I’m susceptible to fear of missing out when I’m reading a sales page about something that really matters to me. Like love and relationships or being a really solid dad. and I get to that part where the marketers are using the fear of missing out.

[00:05:37] They say something like, well, if you don’t join this program and they’re not as obvious is this most of the time then? Oh, well, you’re just not going to be the dad that you want to be pause now because I’ve become sensitive to being played. For the fear of missing out. I know that when that’s present, it’s time for me to pause and get clarity and not try to talk myself into going forward.

[00:06:09] We can do this around a lot of different things.

[00:06:11] What I’m noticing is that if you’re feeling again, this sense of should I should be doing this or have to do this, or.

[00:06:21]Figure out what the, or else is.

[00:06:25]I picked a picture for the podcast of a human contorting, themselves working at a laptop I’m impressed by their flexibility and also doing it in high heels. Whoa.

[00:06:44]I’m also quite aware. That for many people, their work twist them, gets them to take their pliability all the way to the limit of breaking and sometimes beyond.

[00:06:58] See, that’s just it. If we’re pliable, that’s a gift. That’s a capacity. We’re not trying to get rid of our pliability. When we’re clear and we ask the question, what makes this matter to me? We’re making sure that if we’re going to bend over or work hard or devote ourselves to something that really matters in our core, our head, our heart, our gut, our essence.

[00:07:30] And then we start noticing how we’re being played. And the play usually has an or else. And sometimes in the moment we accept, you know, I’m being played here, they’re using a threat. Maybe it’s a false threat. I’m not sure . But right now it’s okay for me to go along. I’m going to use my pliability to go along for now, but I’m aware of it now.

[00:07:56] It makes me less susceptible.

[00:07:58]I would love to hear what your susceptible to being played around. Maybe it’s love or work or something else. And truly, sometimes we’re being played around things that matter to us. But when you ask the question, what makes this matter to me? It does give you clarity. It gives you a grounding and it leads to a calmer confidence.

[00:08:27] I’m And I’d love to hear from you. You can also stop by the new Thriving Now Community Center, and leave a message. Let’s talk about this. Thanks for listening.


So there’s the question I bring up in the podcast:

What about this matters to me?

On my morning mile this morning, I considered another question, too:

What about this does NOT matter to me? Or is even in contrast with what I’m focused on right now?

I am remembering some mental gymnastics I’d go through to justify a purchase (and they say we decide emotionally and justify rationally). At one point my justifications became so obvious – around the airplane I owned at the time – that I’d whip it out around almost anything:

It’s a SAFETY Feature!

Hahaha. Yeah, the new CD player in the van was a safety feature. Right.

I know I am more than capable of playing MYSELF. For external influences, going back to my core and asking how this matters to me can help me be grounded in the face of effective manipulation.

When it comes to me playing myself…

  • How does this fit with what I know matters to me right now?
  • How doesn’t it fit with that?
  • Is there any violation of an agreement (with myself or others) that this would evoke?

I know… a lot of questions.

Here’s another reason I feel this is so crucial to emotional freedom…

If we’re going to change how we relate and cultivate We-Space that can be generous and supportive, we need to be conscious of underlying systems.

One of those systems is “media” (including social media, news media, advertising media, etc.) They create things for us to consume, they actively tweak and measure how to get us to take actions they want us to take (and they profit from), and we – as people in this culture – are exposed to this tens of thousands of times… often below the level of consciousness.

Made conscious, media manipulation (playing us) becomes less potent… and successful.

And if we are concurrently co-creating systems based on sustainability, generosity, respect, kindness, non-coercion, and wanting our customers to only make decisions that are clear and supportive – Win-Win Yes-Yes, well, that’s the world I want to live in.

That is easier if we’re not being played, or at least not being played without being aware of it and consenting to the game!


There’s SO much for me to explore in this dynamic of ‘pliable vs playable’. For much or most of my life I’ve been overly pliable (why can’t we all just get along) which lends itself to being very playable by skilled practitioners of the art of playing people. And playing myself? Oh yes indeed. Pliable without boundaries we become jellyfish who are at the mercy of being played by ocean currents. For pliability to have self-determination and real self-agency it needs a boundary like bone and muscle and skin to contain it…to push against, so it can steer it’s own course. If we lose the firm boundary then pliability easily shifts into playability…firm/pliable…yin/yang.

Some late night thoughts from a foggy brain…for what it’s worth.


Totally totally agreed @Glenn. I m exactly in the same boat as you. Here in India I saw, heard, read this topic early in the morning its evening now…still couldn’t complete my writing. So many thoughts clear at point of time to pen down but hands in work not possible to sit with phone n type n at other times too mixed. This overlap of having been played too much upon my strength of being pliable…so much to say n all choked up.

Just to share whats happening currently is…I hv been spending many many nights awake full of thoughts n anxiety attacks…thoghts others playing then self playing…mistakes done…blame n guilt traps even more so the critic within…BUT since few days (nights rather to say) having heard Rick(so so so thank ful) I start to tap…m so many times ‘seeing’ the mind ‘at work’ at other times miss it and become part of the experience … Fear of another dreadful night is lessening and belif that, in fact it must come because only when it’ll surface is my opportunity to see it process it. Tapping is my tool my strength m not alone. Even though I m going through very very very draining times m sure everything is working towards working out for me.

I want this overlap to separate. I want to be able to feel me. I want clarity. I want to use my pliabilty in the right manner. I want to cultivate n stick to boundaries. You have given me good picture to go to…jellyfish…as alert. So many Tanvis reside in me, jellyfish tanvi must morph. In the novel the Alchemist it says ‘lead will play its role until the world has no further need for it;and then lead will have to turn itself into gold’.Golden Glen awaits you n Golden Tanvi awaits me.


In line with what I just wrote above…

Your wisdom to ask questions about how does it fit RIGHT NOW n doesn’t fit n violation of agreement. Are going to be of huge help.

Too much rumination is done on my part entire day. All mixed up expressions… so leaving to here right now.


Appreciating exploring this with you…

I watched the Netflix documentary:

So interesting to be so intimate with a creature without bones… one that uses hiding to survive… and one so resilient even when traumatized.

I’m not an octopus, and yet there is so much of me in so many animals, too. A part of me wants to hide. To blend in with the surroundings. And I definitely don’t want to be eaten.

Yet, I am not “just” trying to eat, sleep, mate. Sure, it feels like there’s more to the octopus than just THAT. I can imagine it’s pleasures, too, and the sense of connection that was demonstrated in the documentary, too, surprised and delighted me.

@Tanvi I am remember rumination cycles, and the blessing that having “better questions” lead to. “What matters to me right now?” brings my heart into it. “Who do I want to BE right now?” can remind me of my identities (for example, if I want to BE GENEROUS then there are so many ways to be that. If I want to BE REPLENISHED, yeah, so many options there, too.)

Boundaries might be like bones, in the sense that they help us have structural strength… but bones without the dynamics of movement and inspired action are just a skeleton of a human, not living, laughing, loving flesh.


Yes Rick having spent a lot of time as ‘jelly fish’ i have rather morphed into ‘bones without the dynamics of movement and inspired actions’. Either i give in or rebell.

I m seeing how my victim mentality is the driving force at the basis of my actions n reactions. Every thing for most part comes from fear m slowly starting to ‘respect’ my fears. Your advice of Octopus is inspiring. M checking into the documentary at earliest to have it’s stronger visual impact on self. Being a creature without bones …allowed to hide n yet has resilience.

Thanks for the direction to take rumination cycles as blessing. M on my way to clearer understanding n expression. Gratitude!