How does Totem - the “Feel Good” game tap into the power of vulnerability?

How does Totem - the “Feel Good” game tap into the power of vulnerability?

Apr 26, 2021Editorial Team

In this post, we’re going to explain to you a bit more about how Totem - the “Feel Good” game works, from choosing your own Totem to assigning Totem cards. 

So, Totem is the name of the game, and the end goal is to create one or two totems that represent your best self

You could say it’s a bit like getting your palm read. A map of your character. Getting to know yourself and those around you a little better. Deep insight to our true self. Here at Totem, we’re all about bringing out the best in people, helping them shine by discovering their unique strengths. 

So, how to give a Totem

Step 1:

Start by simply reading the cards aloud.

Step 2:

Why did I choose that card for you?

Share an experience, a story. Refer back to the stories which will have been shared round the table earlier in the game or a real life experience you shared together. Don’t worry if you don’t know the person that well, just follow your intuition, your gut instinct, based on how the person expressed themselves during the round table segment of the game. 

Step 3.


How does that quality contribute to the team? What does it bring to me? Share your own appreciation of the strength and how it relates to you personally. 

Receiving Your Totem and Owning It! 

It’s important not to shy away from words you think are “too much”.

Beautiful. Serene. Loving.  

Now is not the time for being humble - none of these qualities are too much! Someone around you gave you that card, so own it! Don’t shy away from the “beautiful” qualities. 

House Rules

Totem’s Golden Rules:

If you are the receiver, meaning the person receiving their Totem from the other players, you are not allowed to talk. 

The reasoning behind this is that generally, receiving praise generates shyness and discomfort.

Our natural instinct is to try to stop the praise giver from speaking, to interrupt them, change the subject and divert the attention away from ourselves. 

So here at Totem, the rules are just to listen and of course there’s one thing you can say at the end:

“Thank you”.

Why Do We Find It So Difficult to Accept Praise? 

Totem takes a closer look at why we find it so difficult to accept praise.

As human beings, why are we so uncomfortable receiving praise? And more importantly, what can we do about it?

At home or at work, from friends, family or colleagues, the vast majority of people find it very difficult to accept and believe praise. As you know, here at Totem we have just one golden rule, learning how to stay quiet and just listen when receiving praise. Now let’s explore why people find it so difficult to accept praise. 

Many people focus on the importance of expressing our gratitude but skip over the part when it comes to accepting thanks. Both giving and receiving gratitude are essential components for relational well being. 

Typically people respond to displays of emotion in one of 3 ways. First up, deflection, brushing off and invalidating the compliment or show of affection. The next common reaction is reciprocation, where the recipient immediately launches into their own expression of love before even registering or acknowledging what has been said to them. Here the receiver feels indebted to the person giving them the compliment, so would rather immediately reciprocate than feel vulnerable. The third reaction is discounting the compliment altogether, giving detailed reasons why the complement can’t be received. 

Think about times people have expressed their gratitude or paid you a compliment. What was your natural reaction? To deflect, reciprocate or discount their emotion? Or accept and acknowledge their thanks and admiration?  

Opening ourselves up to expressions of love and gratitude can be scary, because it means opening ourselves up to the risk of getting hurt. Human beings can be scared to be in the spotlight showing off our true colours for fear of also revealing our flaws and imperfections, in other words, being vulnerable

The Power of Vulnerability 

In reality, there are lessons to be learned from our vulnerability.  

Mastering the art of giving and receiving feedback as well as being vulnerable can be highly beneficial for performance and well being at work and in our personal lives

Brené Brown made waves with her world-renowned Ted Talk, stating that, “vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, creativity, of belonging, of love.”



Brené calls it, "wholehearted living", working to disarm shame and take off our "emotional armory" in order to show empathy.

Let go of perfectionism and chase authenticity and contentment instead. Acknowledging and accepting instead of ignoring our weaknesses fosters a strong sense of worthiness in spite of these weaknesses. Opening up our true selves and being accepted for who we are creates a real sense of belonging. At work, this sense of belonging promotes optimal well being and performance among team members. Acknowledging our weakness equates to partnering with those who excel in areas where we are lacking. 

Many people talk about presenting a persona at work, putting on an act, their “work personality”. Let your guard down and be yourself, embrace authenticity. Show compassion and let yourself be seen. Our humanity values transparency over perfectionism

If you use social media or a website for your business or career there are some common misconceptions and uncertainty about how you should present yourself online. You can share more than just profound insights into your industry, no one on Instagram wants to read a decade long study on the truth about visionary leadership while they're drinking their morning coffee. Try posting about your personal interests in mindfulness, travel, the books you’re reading. Even if you and your co-workers are introverts, have the courage to show the real you, how you're feeling that day, the things that bring you happiness in life. Be memorable. Go on, try it!

For real connections and honest relationships, at work and throughout life, you have to be yourself. Be honest about who you are, where you’re at, where you’re headed. Show courage for meaningful relationships.

How Totem Can Help You and Your Team

Here at Totem, we’re all about human connection. We want to help you tap into the power of your vulnerability. Think of it as your personal quest for authenticity - taking off your vulnerability armor.

At Totem, there are two main ways we give people the courage to do this, providing you with the essential skills and transformative insights:

At home

Our flagship product, Totem - the “Feel Good” game

Ride the wave of positivity, with more than 100,000 copies sold in over 33 countries. Our personal development game is designed to be played by players of any age in groups of any size! Couples, with the kids, the teens, the whole family, or as many friends as you like! Totem is the perfect gift for any recipient. The aim of the game is to discover which of your strengths and qualities are most appreciated by those around you. As a result, you will get to know yourself and those around you much better. It really is positivity in a box. 

At work

Totem’s very own “Feel Good” Team Building, developed from the success of the game. 

Our team building builds trust and improves communication between team members. By reflecting on one another’s best qualities and strengths, your team members will feel valued and appreciated in the workplace. Work closely with the team here at Totem and establish specific areas to target during your team building. Our team building has been delivered live for audiences of over 100 people at companies large and small. 

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