It all starts with giving yourself permission


Do you ever wonder how other people do it? How they manage to wiggle themselves into the crevices of life where joy and fulfillment lay hidden? How they pivot themselves out of messy mindsets, while you remain stuck in the grime and muck of an unfulfilled life?

We all encounter times in our lives where the odds feel hopelessly stacked against us. Sometimes this is because of circumstantial predicaments. But oftentimes the mess is much more subtle and buried deep inside us. It might present itself as a feeling of discontent that we cannot quite put our finger on. It might be a lack of energy and motivation to make the changes we know would make us feel better. We might have a nagging sense that life is passing us by when we are unsure how to get on board.

I am quite certain that every person has at one point or another found themselves in such a mental entanglement. You might even be going through such difficulty at this very moment. In many cases, we eventually find our way out of the muck. We find a brief moment of insane courage to make a significant change or muster up the discipline to plow through the fields of hardship. Getting to this point may take you months or even years. Sometimes an entire life is wasted on a quiet, hidden frustration.

Loosening up

But what if I told you that there is an easier way? That you can build up a gentle resilience against moments of lackluster and move out of dire circumstances with grace and agility. What if I told you, you don’t need permission to feel fulfilled and in alignment? You already have permission!

This article is not of the motivational type that will tell you if you only stop self-sabotaging, life will be magical, and success will easily flow your way. Firstly, because I believe that life is not about unlimited success and eternal happiness. But also, because you will start noticing something interesting once you start granting yourself permission. You will loosen your grip on the rigid reality you thought would make you happy or successful. You will start understanding what is essential to your life and realise the myriad ways in which your current situation is already serving you. Don’t quite follow? Let’s dive into the subject of permission a little more.

1. Giving yourself permission to feel

You have probably heard this before. Suppressing your feelings doesn’t make them go away. And it is true. Going through the emotion is the only way to release the emotion. But feelings are also very powerful and hold so much wisdom if we are willing to listen to them. Take stress for example (a form of fear). We often say we feel stressed, but rarely do we take the time to unpack what this means. Are we stressed because of our job, or our rigid routines or the expectations of others? When you give yourself permission to feel your emotions, good or bad, an awareness will emerge on what is essential in your life and what you can let go.  You become led by the wisdom contained inside emotions and begin to grasp how to shape a life that breathes authenticity.

2. Giving yourself permission to rest

Have you ever beaten yourself up for just sitting on the couch and watching a show on Netflix, while you feel you ‘should’ be doing something productive? I know I have. We live in a society where working hard has become a sacred value. Many of us fear that if we do not fill our lives with activities that we are somehow missing out on success and accomplishment. But I encourage you to leave things unfinished more often. To observe how life doesn’t fall apart when you skip an exercise class, call in sick at work when you feel unwell or spend an entire weekend in bed with ice-cream and daytime television. When you give yourself permission to rest and more importantly enjoy the rest you will see that life won’t fall apart and, in the process, start an active journey on doing only that which is essential.

3. Giving yourself permission to say ‘enough’

One of the secrets to a good life surely must lie in the word ‘enough’. There is something so soothing and comforting in knowing when you have reached enough and allowing yourself to put a boundary around enough. ‘Enough’ can safeguard your soul against the life-negating demands of the world. Once you give yourself permission to say ‘enough’ to everything that doesn’t align with your values and essentials, you can begin to apply effort only to the things that truly brighten your heart. As Greg McKeown put it:

“Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

The link between mental minimalism and permission

In my article about mental minimalism, I talk about three different ways to start the journey towards mental minimalism.

Now that we have discussed a few different ways of giving ourselves permission, it becomes clear how this is linked to mental minimalism:

1.       Permission to feel gives you a way to home in on what is essential

2.       Permission to rest gives you a way to leave behind all that is not essential

3.       Permission to say ‘enough’ gives you a way to set boundaries around what is essential.

Watch the magic unfold

 Although I promised that this article would not be a motivational ‘secrets to a perfect life’-type article, I cannot help but end on a slightly magical note. I truly believe that living a more fulfilled and meaningful life starts with giving yourself permission. By granting yourself permission to feel and rest and say ‘enough’ you allow yourself to receive more of what truly matters in life.

If you would like to learn more about the magic of permission, why not check out the following resources:

Whatever Arises, Love That: A Love Revolution That Begins with You – Matt Kahn (book)
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown (book)


Clarissa DeanComment