Giving Ourselves Permission to Want What We Want
In my family, when it's your birthday, you are empowered to make more choices than usual. The birthday girl (or boy) gets to select their favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner. They decide if presents get opened in the morning or evening and get to request a special activity that they love. The whole family supports their choices as a celebration of who they are.
During my birthday last week, I noticed how many choices I allowed myself because it was my special day that no one was preventing me from making every other day. When I got dressed, I pulled on a stretchy pencil skirt and a soft sweatshirt with cutouts in the back and thought, "If I could wear the same thing every day, it would be this." Well, then, why don't I? How can I make what I wear when I see clients or go to the grocery store a variation of this?
My ideal day included time alone to read and write in a coffee shop. It included time for meditation and movement and intention setting. When I prioritized the activities I most wanted to do, I found that I had more energy throughout the day. The emails still got checked and I felt more creative and present. I can choose this every week.
The women in my family asked if they could spend the afternoon with me and I was delighted. It never occurred to me to invite them. My story was that it was inconvenient to ask them to rearrange their schedules and spend so much time in the car in the middle of the day. But they wanted to. They love me the same way that I love them. Of course I would drive to them on their birthdays.
Permission has been a big theme of exploration for me this year. It is one of my Core Desired Feelings. (CDFs are the emotions I want to experience more of and use as a compass in the morning and throughout the day as I make decisions.) What I see in myself and so many of my clients is that we have taken a healthy appreciation for delayed gratification too far. We stop ourselves from having the experiences we want and then feel ashamed for wanting them in the first place.
Does this sound familiar?
"I want to make a lot of money, but I know I shouldn't care about that."
"I love my kids and I feel guilty for wanting more time by myself."
"I wish work didn't feel so draining but I shouldn't complain because other people have it worse."
Permission is freedom. Permission is not making yourself wrong for wanting what you want. Permission is empowering yourself to defy the "shoulds" that litter your internal monologue. Permission is letting "the soft animal of your body love what it loves."
My favorite practice when I notice that I want to feel allowed to do something is to write my own permission slip. It may feel silly as an adult to be looking to an authority figure to say something is okay. For me, the permission slip is a way to give my inner child what it wants, to tell myself on a deeper level that what I want is okay. My revelations on my birthday inspired me to write several new permission slips this week.
"Lauren has my permission to spend an hour on Wednesday and Friday mornings writing for pleasure."
"Lauren has my permission to buy more stretchy pencil skirts because she likes the way they make her feel."
"Lauren has my permission to make 20 tea and coffee dates with friends this summer."
What will you write on your permission slip?