“It’s amazing how easy things can be when we give ourselves permission to do them. My energy was high, and I felt open to possibilities that morning. It was a creative moment: inspiration struck, and we all went with it.”
Each week, I meet with a lovely group of women to connect and discuss the books we’re reading. Last week, we learned that one of our members has never been to Two Hands Paperie or the Boulder Bookstore—two long-standing, beloved local stores. The rest of us couldn’t believe it! This woman is a painter and reads lots of books—how could she not know about these wonderful stores?
Suddenly, I had the idea of having a holiday lunch and visiting those stores together. As soon as I suggested it, everyone else got excited, too. It was fun to see the faces of the women around me light up as they imagined our outing. What an adventure, to do something outside our usual routine!
It’s amazing how easy things can be when we give ourselves permission to do them. My energy was high, and I felt open to possibilities that morning. It was a creative moment: inspiration struck, and we all went with it.
But if I had been in a funk, I could have shut down my idea immediately. We range in age from 57 to 89. Some of us deal with chronic pain and illness, and we have various levels of stamina. My negative imagination could have taken over with “what ifs.” What if it snows and there are slippery patches on the sidewalk? What if it’s too much activity or too far for some of us to walk? Better not suggest it.
This experience got me thinking about permission—when I give it to myself, and when I shut it down. Some of the best experiences of my life began with giving myself permission.
Years ago, I got a scholarship to a creative writing class in Tuscany. I got the news less than a month before the class began and I didn’t have a passport. The normal timeframe for getting a new passport was 6 to 8 weeks. But nothing was going to keep me from going! In that state of mind, I saw obstacles as challenges I would meet. I found a way to get the passport process expedited.
But at the time, it first appeared to be an unsurmountable obstacle. What if I had given up? I get a hollow feeling in the center of my chest just thinking about it. No writing at a desk in front of an open window overlooking the Tuscan hills. No fresh Italian food and local wine at a long wooden table, surrounded by candlelight and good conversation.
Your perspective makes or breaks your experiences. And giving yourself permission is your power perspective.
Only you can give yourself permission to go for the experiences you want to have. If I had given up on Tuscany, essentially, I would have given my power away to a bureaucratic process.
I’d like to say that I bravely sail through life giving myself permission for everything I want to create, but I don’t. Especially in the area of self-care. I ended up burnt out and sick in my corporate job because I didn’t set boundaries around my time outside of work hours. I didn’t give myself permission to say no.
It’s a stark contrast: flying away to Italy versus sobbing in my doctor’s office. I’ve learned some hard lessons around giving away my power.
Do you sometimes shut yourself down from having the experiences you want? When do you tell yourself that you can’t do something, because it’s “selfish,” or “not important,” or “too difficult?” How do you know whether you’re making the right decision?
This is what I tell my creative clients: follow the energy. When you respond to an idea with lightness and excitement, that’s a clue you’re on the right path. It doesn’t mean you won’t have down days or experience difficulties. But when your heart soars, follow it.
You get to give yourself permission to create the experiences in life that you truly want!
Image ©Julie Baldwin