I have discovered I’m not very good at giving myself permission.
What I am good at is giving myself orders, instructions, and (of course) the usual timely doses of so-called “constructive” criticism.
Recently, when I decided to re-read an old self-help course I used to take and found the author referring to a practice he called “giving yourself permission,” I will admit I found myself stumped.
“Permission?” I thought to myself. “What on earth could he mean?”
I pondered…and read further.
The author, bless his heart, decided to give some examples.
For instance, he suggested it is perfectly fine to give yourself permission to not be okay.
Other examples the author cited included giving yourself permission to: say no, take a break, earn a lot of money, not earn a lot of money, like yourself, be scared, feel lazy, not know what is going on, and so forth.
When giving yourself permission, he suggested using this phrase: “It is okay for me to (fill in the blanks).” OR, “I give myself permission to (fill in the blanks).”
So far today, I have given myself permission to: feel very anxious, not be productive, not earn a lot of money (I have a feeling that one will become a regular), be okay even if I don’t feel okay, be patient with myself, love my pets as if they were people, and eat my favorite dish (mac n’ cheese) for the third day in a row.
I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.
And I have to admit, even though it can feel kind of silly – not to mention supremely immature – to give myself permission to be and do and think and feel so many things the rest of me strongly disagrees with, it sure feels better than just yelling at myself about it.
It also takes the sting out of a number of otherwise very personal-sounding accusations – like being lazy, scared, unproductive or whiny.
Somehow it just feels different, better, kinder, to say to myself, “I give you permission to whine,” versus inwardly screeching at myself to GROW UP AND STOP WHINING ALREADY!
(As if the sheer volume of my own displeasure with myself will somehow magically take all the whine, and immaturity, and unproductively, and not-okayness, right out of me. Ha.)
This year, I have committed to welcoming sufficiency into my life all year long. Now it occurs to me that perhaps this is part of that process.
In other words, before I can feel sufficient in any area of life, first I must give myself permission to never reach that goal, AND I must give myself permission to reach that goal.
Only then, I suspect, will sufficiency feel, well, sufficiently at ease in my company to stick around for awhile….or forever.
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever worked with the idea of giving yourself permission for – whatever it was (or wasn’t)? If so, what was that experience like for you? If you haven’t, are you considering giving it a try? Why or why not?
p.s. This post is from my free monthly e-zine, “Good News for Recovery + Life.”