Self-Permission is a Magic Spell
some experiments to get started casting
The story goes that if you tie up an elephant to a post when it's a baby, when it's grown it won't try to move away from the post, even though now it is strong enough to do so.
Most of us have this elephant inside us in some way. We’re blocked by our conditioning—what we were taught is acceptable behavior. It shows up for us as an invisible force we can’t quite put our finger on. We want to move forward, to change, to ask for what we want, but somehow we can’t.
There’s a lot of tools to help with this, but today I want to talk to you about a fun, free, and simple technique I call experiments in self-permission. This is a little game you can play with yourself. The game is to give yourself permission to do something that’s a little (or a lot!) uncomfortable, and lean into the tension you feel when you move away from your perception of fully acceptable behavior.
An example: buy tickets to a movie and then not go. I love this one because we are taught to not waste money. This is a good lesson, but it's also a good lesson to know that you can waste money, that your experience is greater than money. Just because you bought tickets doesn't mean you have to go! You can change your mind at any point. You don't have to keep being the person you were 10 minutes ago, even if you paid good money to be that person.
In elementary school we had to have a permission slip in order to not be at class. It was pink and it would say things like "Alex needs to miss class for a 10:30 dentist appointment." At the yoga retreat my experiment was to write myself permission slips. "Alex can't go to Wim Hof breathwork because she wants to get high on caffeine and write a blog post." Ah, it's ok that I'm not going. I have the permission slip!
Do the experiments in whatever way inspires, excites, or otherwise motivates you. For example:
Nat Sharpe is a master at self-permission experiments. "You can just do stuff" is a brilliant self-permission magic spell. It seems to be working for him. :)
Tasshin is also a master at self-permission, especially when it comes to self-expression. Recently his experiment is that on Sunday he tweets all his tweet drafts. These are sometimes his best tweets because they are raw and edgy.
Tasshin also has a very sweet self-permission magic spell where he says "Tasshin can have/do X as a treat."
Recently my self-permission experiments have been about giving myself permission to reach out to others. I explicitly tell myself: “I give you permission to reach out to X and tell them Y.” But what I’m really saying is: “I give you permission to be your full self, even if that means being rejected by others. I will love you even then.”
I'm reminded of Sharon Salzberg who tells the story of being at a Metta meditation retreat where she focused on giving Metta to herself all week. She wrote it off as a waste of time, but then she drops a jar and it shatters and she thinks: "You're a klutz but I love you."
Self-permission is giving yourself permission to be all the parts of yourself, even the ones that you try to hide.
What about you? What self-permission experiment sounds fun to try today?
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