I give it out freely and often.
All day long: “Mom can I have?” “Mom can I go?” “Mom can I do?”
I am the giver of Permission.
Yet this is something I struggle to give to myself.
Why is this? As a kid you ask for permission for just about everything. When you graduate to ‘adulthood’ the freedom of choice is intoxicating. I vividly remember the first time I went grocery shopping after I had moved out of my parents house. Finally I could choose everything I wanted to eat. There are days now where that same thought overwhelms and paralyzes me.
Do I have too many choices, or too many people to choose for? Is it the realization that my choices now affect other people?
The problem is, I didn’t realize how many ways in which my ‘adulthood’ held me back. The thing I most want to do is often in conflict with a should.
I should clean the house, so when my kids ask me to play I struggle to say yes.
I should be content with a quiet life, therefore I won’t pursue that dream inside my heart.
I should put my kids in multiple activities, though I long for connection and a slower pace of life.
These ‘shoulds’ war within me leaving me feeling discontent and as if I am being controlled by my life. Have you ever felt that way? Like you didn’t really have a say in your own life?
Not all ‘shoulds’ are bad. Shoulds are the things that keep groceries in the fridge and clean clothes in the drawers. But sometimes they keep me from being set free to make the decision I know deep down I want to make – even if other people won’t understand. It’s the ability to let go of other people’s expectations. It’s permission to laugh and play and be in the moment.
I was at a concert recently. It was big; 50,000 people or so. Its a funny thing to be in a crowd that size. In some ways you feel incredibly invisible, especially as the artist begins and everyones focus is on the stage, and likely no one at all is looking at you or really very aware of you. Yet for myself and for a lot of people we have a disease known as “adultitis” that sometimes gets in the way of us acting as we would like to because we are hyper aware of others around us and don’t want to look dumb. We are mature, capable adults, and as much as I’d like to sing along at the top of my lungs and dance “like no one is watching” (thank-you wall plaques of the early 2000’s) for a lot of us we can’t.
But then something really remarkable happened at this concert. The musician called us out. He broke down the typical stereotypes of people who would likely be the most reluctant to move and groove and, in a sense, he gave the crowd permission to rock out. He called out the elephant in the (very large) room. It’s amazing what can happen when someone does this. You could feel the collective sigh in the entire stadium; like the crowd was given an amazing gift. The gift of Permission. People were now free to move, free to sing, and free to really enjoy themselves.
How often in life are we holding back – unknowingly waiting for permission to do something, be something, or enjoy something?
Remember when you were little and your parents signed your permission slips? They said “It is okay for my son/daughter to participate in this activity.” And just like that, with your Golden Ticket you were off. I’d like to give you something similar.
I don’t know what is holding you back right now; fear, expectations, or ‘shoulds,’ but right now you can write yourself your own permission slip. Click here for a download of 6 different designs in pdf form. Print this sheet as many times as you like and give yourself permission.
For me it looks a lot like this: Jaclyn has Permission to take a nap, Jaclyn has Permission to skip a sports practice so we can eat dinner as a family, Jaclyn has Permission to stop working and play with her kids. It’s not always profound; sometimes I need permission in the simplest ways.
I hope this is encouraging for you and I hope these permission slips give you the freedom you need to make the best choices in your life.