Waiting for Permission to Be You?
Hello dear ones,
I’ve had an amazing few weeks. I had the honour of witnessing the death of a lovely woman who has been the mother/auntie energy in my life for the past 20 years. My role during this time has been holding sacred space for her family in all their humanity, the waiting and the letting go, the pain and relief.
What I loved about this passing over was how this woman, frail and spent, was completely in the truth of who she is and what she wants, right up until the end. For me it was an exquisite pulse of inspiration; may I be so grounded in who I am when my time comes.
And this bring me to the topic of this article – seeking permission to be ourselves.
Now if you’re someone who has always known, right down into your bones, your right to be here, fully and unapologetically, then this kind of language around seeking permission might leave you shrugging your shoulders. I certainly know many people who have a solid sense of autonomy and confidence; they inspire me.
And many of us know this feeling of holding back. You're waiting for some kind of mystical nod or authorization slip. You feel caught in a holding pattern. You keep your personal dial at “5” until it’s OK to turn it up to its actual power. You’re staying small and silent, hiding your true self or apologizing for being who you are.
I KNOW THIS ONE INTIMATELY
As a young woman, I didn’t show my true heart to anyone. I had three strategies: 1) stay quiet and hidden, 2) be agreeable and say/do whatever seemed to be acceptable, or 3) be audaciously contrary, which was, of course, a façade. These tactics saved me (more or less) from needing to put my deepest truths out here.
They also, over time, disconnected me from my deepest truths so that putting my true self out there became less and less possible.
Breaking free from this self-fulfilling cycle has been central to my personal evolution work. And it’s an ongoing process. Even as recently as this past summer, when I checked into my deepest motivation for joining a group, I realized that I was looking for someone to say, “It’s OK to say what you think, Lori. OK to be a little larger and louder, to shine more brightly.”
Honestly, it was this experience – this constant feeling of waiting for someone or something to give me the green light to go ahead and be fully me – that drew me into this profession of helping people to do just that.
What I hear from clients are a lot of different ways of describing this: being off track, out of sync with their true nature, lost in a fog, unable to find their voice, feeling like they’re not living fully, weighed down by all the layers between who they are on the inside and how they express themselves outwardly.
If this sounds familiar, I invite you into a gentle exploration.
First, please take a moment to land yourself in your body. Breathe gently. Welcome in curiosity.
1. What are the questions you ask about your prerogative or capacity to be you?
2. In what circumstances do they arise?
3. What impact does this have on your daily life?
WHAT I’VE COME TO KNOW
While there are many different experiences of seeking permission to be who you are, here are some points to stimulate and support your wonderings about how you might be:
1. The only person that needs to give you permission is you.
I know, I know, this sounds so simplistic. The truth is that we all have complex histories that include many beliefs and behaviors around who needs to ask for permission and who gets to give permission. Stories that involve our parents, teachers, pastors and our culture.
And let’s acknowledge right here that there have been times in our lives when waiting for permission was the wisest thing to do. Whether you were six or sixteen, this was a smart survival strategy that, thankfully, helped you get this far intact. I want us to honour that for a moment.
You are here reading this now because looking outward for authorization isn’t working for you. You are ready for more looking inward. Reaching inward to the core of truth in you that is longing for more expression. That sacred seed whispering that it wants to be seen and heard. Now is the time. Permission to be truly you lies within your own heart and guts. It is your life impulse – yours to authorize, acknowledge, claim, accept, affirm.
2. There is room for everyone.
Many people say they don’t feel comfortable taking up more space. Here’s my perspective: it’s not about taking space away from others (which feels greedy and risky). It’s actually about filling up the space that’s meant for you. This realization opened not only my mind but also my perception of my energetic personal space. You see, I had imagined my space to be small and the boundaries to be firm, somehow imposed and enforced. Like there was a distinct line which I should not cross. A sphere of influence and warmth that I must not exceed for fear of offending or annoying others. I had been crouched in that space, hiding and waiting, for years.
As I matured, I experienced greater spaciousness. I sensed outward and spoke out and felt the expansion of my own life force. No gate, just space. My space. The space that is for my ideas, my wisdom and my flame. Space is infinite and sacred. There is room for every being to fill (fulfill) their space.
3. There are risks and we do it anyway.
There are teachers and friends out there saying just do it, just be you and it will all be beautiful and wonderful. I think where they fall short is not acknowledging the risks. Because you and I know, there definitely are risks to shining our light at it’s true brightness. We risk being told to sit down and shut up. We risk being ridiculed or disliked. We risk being hurt. Sometimes we are risking relationships and jobs, even our homes and our safety.
It’s not just a matter of turning up the “me” dial; it’s about deep courage to recognize the potential costs and step forward anyway, even if it’s just one tiny step...
4. It’s in the daily practices.
Yes, there have been rituals and teachings that have propelled things forward for me. But what I know for certain is that it’s in the daily moments of my life that I give myself permission to shine. It’s in the moment when I close my laptop and go for a hike in the woods. It’s when I’m in conversation with a loved one, feeling the impulse to say what I think they are hoping to hear, what I know will keep the peace, and instead expressing what’s in my heart. It’s in the moment when I catch myself feeling like I need to apologize for being this wise and grounded, and instead just stand still in my light and trust that the divinity in me is seen by others in a good way.
Giving ourselves permission to be ourselves, knowing our right to be ourselves, requires daily practice in noticing and disrupting our old patterns. In that split second of pausing and recognizing our habit of dialing down our voice/ power, we give ourselves the opportunity to choose something different. And it’s not easy. That’s why it’s called practice. We create our lives in the choices we make moment by moment.
5. Your light is needed now.
It’s not coincidence that you are alive. It’s a miracle, as much as every baby bunny and every star is a miracle. You are a unique combination of millions of possible combinations of genes, tissue and stardust. You radiate a certain glow that nurtures and inspires others. You are not meant to withhold it. You are meant to shine it out there. Your voice and your presence are needed now.
YOU ARE HERE
And I believe that permission to be your true self has already been granted - by the simple fact of your existence. You are here to be the one and only you.
And the rest of us are very glad for it.
With you on the journey,