You Have Permission.

I’m planning my week, my day, and a couple of thoughts run through my head: I’ll try this. I’ll do this. Ooh, wouldn’t this be exciting! I can’t wait!

And then the other thoughts, the safety traps, the counter mechanisms, the judgments, the space between what I want to do and what I’ve done so far. The voice that says it’s not enough, that I’m not anywhere close, that I shouldn’t try, that I’ll never get there.

In a rough-and-tumble few weeks, I Failed. Fell. Knocked down. Stood up. Tried to do simple things and couldn’t do them. Tried to do hard things and found myself, normally able, somehow incapable. I stopped doing things because my expectation was so high that the nominal version of achievement felt so inadequate that not doing something about it felt better than going through the muck of re-building my momentum.

Frustrated, aware that I was frustrated, and incapable of figuring out what to do next, a good friend took a hike with me and said, “Give yourself permission to be here.”

“Remember, here is part of it.” 

You have permission.

To give yourself a regular thrashing. To work so hard, you can’t stand it. To get to a space of physical exhaustion. To sweat, shake, cry, tremble, fear, and get angry. To run for hours, and then, keep running. To shake from hunger and tired and exhaustion. To feel.

You have permission to relax. To take care of yourself. To take a night off. To go slow when you need to go slow, to breathe, to call a friend for help, to invest in yourself, to stick up for what’s right and what’s wrong, to say what’s on your mind. To put words in the open and change their shape and re-configure them until you are okay with the meaning of them.

You have permission.

To put yourself first.
To sleep.
To ride the momentum.
To take a break.
To slow down.
To be imperfect.
To be you.

To cry.
To thrash.
To work so hard it hurts, you get angry, you get frustrated, you get sad.
To try harder than you’ve ever tried before.
To fail.
To win.

To have a shadow.
To have a light.
To learn.
To be bad at things.
To try again.
To change.

To keep getting better.
To dream.
To believe.
To hold on.
To rest.

You have permission.

Give yourself permission.

Judgment comes from the gap between what we expect, and what we believe about where we are. Often that judgment reigns in so harshly we retreat back from the sequence of steps that will carry us from where we are to where we want to be.

Reign in, soldier. Take a step. Give the judgment a day off. Breathe. Give yourself permission.

To be.


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21 Responses to You Have Permission.

  1. Maureen says:

    Your post is perfectly timed for me. Love the idea of permission…that word has been coming up a lot for me lately. Thank you for posting this today.

  2. Sophia says:

    It’s so hard to give ourselves permission. And yet we give that permission to others all the time! I have to let go of the perfectionism that I find comfort in. The always wanting to be better, closer to perfect so I don’t ever have to look at myself and either acknowledge the great things I’m already doing or see what I really need to work on. So hard. But thanks for the reminder, Sarah!

  3. Karen says:

    Wow Sarah! This article REALLY spoke to me. Thank you

  4. Tanner says:

    Great post Sarah, it’s always a good idea to take stock of where we are at in life and evaluate what it is we are doing. Without self-awareness we can find ourselves heading far down a path that is not taking us where we want to go, and not know it. I hope that you can continue to take care and to find that balance we all seek. Thanks for the writing and for continuing to offer up your personal experience for the rest of us to gain from. Take care.

  5. Indeed, the only person who can give us permission to do anything is only our own self and no one else. We need not seek permission from any one else but from our own conscience. We think that our life is controlled by someone else and we run around hither and thither seeking permission from society, peers, bosses, family & community members. But in truth, we all have the permission, all the time, and if we feel we do not have the permission, then we ourselves can give it to us.
    Thanks for bringing up such a nice message.

  6. Clara says:

    “Judgment comes from the gap between what we expect, and what we believe about where we are.” Such a true statement, Sarah. One thing to do while we’re allowing ourselves our right to be right where we are is to consider that our judgment almost always consists of stories that aren’t true, but we insist on holding on to them anyway.

    Two weeks ago I had a period of useless total inactivity (at least so it seemed to me). I didn’t go to my yoga classes, I didn’t see any friends, I skipped my meditation class, I didn’t go to the author reading that I’d scheduled on my calendar. I spent a fair amount of that time berating myself for being a slug. It wasn’t until afterward that I realized that for whatever reason, my mind and body had simply needed a rest.

    If I’d challenged my “you’re a slug” story during the week, it would never have stood ground. I would have answered back “I am NOT a slug; I’m an active, engaged person with many years of active, engaged behavior that demonstrates that. This is a temporary state. I won’t be inactive forever. This hasn’t happened before and eventually I’ve moved on. So stop berating yourself for hanging around in your pajamas; instead, get what’s available for what’s going on with you now.”

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • Roseann says:

      Almost everything I was going to say, was said by Clara.
      The timing is perfect for your post. I just made about 20 excuses to others for not attending some planned social events. They accepted the excuses, but I didn’t. I’m so glad I read your post at this time.
      I do have the right, and thanks to your post, I’ll relax and take care of myself tonight, instead of guilting myself!
      Thank you for the reminder.

      • Clara says:

        Roseann, Just yesterday I was talking with a friend about how we always feel the need to make excuses for not accepting an invitation. Why is that? Wouldn’t it be simpler to tell the truth, as in “I’ve been doing too much lately; I need some time to relax on my own.” Even while we agreed that that should be perfectly acceptable, we realized that we weren’t yet comfortable saying something along those lines. So, instead, we compromised with something that felt more comfortable. “Sorry, I can’t. I already have other plans.” Which is, in fact, true!

  7. Ryan the Koala says:

    You just put me in a much better mood. Thank you.

  8. Well said.

    Permission to dream. To dream of taking risks. To ponder difficult things…and maybe not reach an answer. And yes, permission to say ‘no’ and not have to explain why.

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  12. Timothy says:

    Awesome post. Reigns so true, even simple things like “permission to sleep”.

    And just permission to be yourself, because that is good enough.

    Keep up the good work!

  13. “Perfectionism”, what a dangerous evil!

    Thank you for showing that perfectionism is nothing but that “gap” between what we do and where, at times, we unconsciously tell ourselves we should be, always a bit higher, always somewhere differently, always somewhere distant, always somewhere else…

    Thank you for reminding us so beautifully that we can ask for permission, we can give permission to ourselves, we have permission to give up perfectionism and start doing what we like, being what we like.

  14. I love the image you’ve placed with this post – it really brings home the message to accept what’s happening in the here & now. Thank you for this insightful message! Am bookmarking this for future reference the next time I’m not happy with where ever “here” is! :)

  15. Al says:

    Just reading through your blog has opened up inner thoughts in me that have now become loud voices which will be followed.

  16. Al says:

    Just one more comment. Almost never do I leave behind my email address. Therefore………………and so on.

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