Typically, when we think of asking permission, thoughts of authority and submission come to mind. We don’t like asking permission for things because it puts control into someone else’s hands. But what happens when the tables are turned? What happens when we start giving ourselves permission to do what needs to be done?
During a recent appointment, most of my issues boiled down to needing more self-care. This is a tough one for me. As much as I would love to veg out, take baths, and give myself the attention that I need, a certain type of guilt came along with that. To-do lists would pop up in the back of my mind that ended up taking priority: work, grocery shopping, keeping the house at least somewhat of an organized mess. Over and over again, I’d burn out my mind and body and try to compensate with an unreasonable amount of caffeine and the occasional 20-minute power nap. My mantra was “If everyone else is okay, I’m okay.” This is not a sustainable way of living. Keeping up with relationships was exhausting, my work ethic seemed to be dwindling, and I couldn’t be fully present because I was so worn out.
Then the “aha” moment came. The advice I’d been giving to everyone else and still not applying to my own life: Give yourself permission to take care of YOU. There is freedom in self-permission. I had not allowed myself time to have a creative outlet, zone out in the bath with a book for an hour, or even cater to my own nutritional and physical needs because I was so focused on making sure everyone else was happy and healthy. I was trying to give from an empty vessel and had nothing left to pull from.
Spending just twenty minutes doing something that brought me life gave me more energy than a three-hour nap and entire pot of coffee ever could during my burnt out state. Something inside of me was unlocked and now mundane tasks are more manageable. I became more efficient once I allowed myself to nurture my needs and, consequently, am now able to put more love and energy into others. It’s a journey, and there’s much more to learn, but the importance of strengthening my relationship with myself has, in turn, strengthened my relationship with others.
What do you need to give yourself permission to do? Maybe there’s a sewing project you’ve been longing to finish but don’t feel like you have the time for, an instrument in the corner waiting to be dusted off, or a novel you’ve sat on the shelf for too long. Some of us need to give ourselves the authority to laugh, be more adventurous, explore things that have caught our attention but that we never allowed ourselves to dive into. You may even need to give yourself permission to cry, feel things more deeply, or mourn a loss that you’ve been pushing aside. Discover what is stopping you from allowing yourself the time you deserve and need and listen to what your body and mind is telling you that you need.
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” –Marianne Williamson
Author: Emma French is a naturopathic student at Trinity School of Natural Health and a Continuum Healing intern.