Each player finds ways they are afraid of being seen. The group then agrees to support each other in trying on those "out of character" selves and reflecting on the experience.
Make a list of a few ways you work to be seen by friends or strangers. Or, if it seems more intuitive, you can make a list of standards you expect yourself to live up to.
I work to be seen as... / I expect myself to be...
Common Examples: Accomodating, Authentic, Calm, Caring, Fair, Friendly, Generous, Gentle, Intellegent, Interested, Interesting, Loving, Kind, Open-Minded, Patient, Strong
It's best if you really do put in some work to be seen or think of yourself in these ways:
Caring - you want to go to bed, but you stay up to listen to your friends complain
Intelligent - you overprepare for meetings and take extensive notes on everything
What kinds of impressions do you try hard not to make? What do you really not want others to think about you? Alternately, what kind of person do you specifically not want to be?
because I don't want anyone to think I'm... / because I can't stand to see myself as...
Common Examples: Bitchy, Bored, Boring, Cold, Dangerous, Egotistical, Fake, Impatient, Mean, Racist, Rough, Selfish, Sexist, Snobby, Spiteful, Stingy, Stupid, Weak
This list is not necessarily just the literal opposite of the list above. The best »scary opposite« is one that actually makes you feel anxious when you think about others seeing you that way, or think about yourself being that way.
Sometimes that means »scary opposites« end up looking like this:
I work to be seen as organized because I don't want anyone to think I'm crazy. 😱
I expect myself to be helpful because I can't stand to see myself as resigned. 😱
Sometimes it means getting more specific:
Bitchy, like someone who just insults people if she doesn't like how they look - NOOOOO... everyone would hate me if they thought I were like that. 😱
Stupid, like a guy who really just doesn't get what is going on in his surroundings - I would be terrified if I thought I weren't actually aware of the social context. 😱
In a circle, one player at a time tries on one of their ways of being, saying or doing something out of character, without telling the others which it is. The others can compliment anything they liked about what the person did or said (compliment the character, not the acting). Then it is the next player's turn.
Take five minutes to journal about these two questions regarding your »out of character« self. Then share anything interesting you'd like to with the group.
1) Where did I decide that being seen like that (as my »scary opposite«) was bad?
Try to locate this fear in your autobiography.
2) When I let myself be seen that way (as my »scary opposites«), I can also be...
What compliment would you give to your own out of character self? Or, alternatively: What was interesting or lovely about the experience of being that way?
Watch out for these common mistakes
- Try to be as specific about your »scary opposite« as you can. The most illuminating phrases will make your heart beat faster and your stomach turn.
- It's best to act from actual impulses. Play-acting is okay if nothing genuine comes up... e.g., if your word is sexist and no sexist thoughts or impulses emerge. Longer formats allow people to be more naturally out of character.
- Don't criticize people for their Out of Character behavior. They already know what is bad about it. Focus on what they might not see: What is good about it?
- Remind people to use common sense: don't touch people, break laws, or damage property unless the group consents to those boundaries beforehand.
- Be gentle with yourself; it's not a competition.
Examples of Good and Bad Use
- I try to be seen as wild because I don't want anyone to think I'm normal. This doesn't define the scary opposite well. Try something more specific like boring or stupid—an image of yourself that would make you anxious to hear or believe.
- I try to be seen as wild because I don't want anyone to think I'm stupid. (The player makes jokes about how stupid they are during the out of character round). This also isn't very specific, and what's worse, the player doesn't lean into the fear... try to actually be seen as stupid.
- I try to be seen as caring because I don't want anyone to think I'm shallow, like someone who judges people based on appearances 😱 This is a good formulation of a because it names a specific »scary opposite« (internalized social fear).
- I try to be seen as interesting because I can't stand to think I'm a person who really just doesn't get what is going on in their surroundings 😱 (During the out of character round, the player makes slow moaning sounds, and looks around with blank confusion in his eyes). This player will definitely discover what he might be missing by avoiding his social fears. In this case, one thing he found was a kind of relaxed embodiment.