Give yourself permission. That statement right there is what I want to tell everyone today. You deserve to give yourself permission to let go of some of the weight on your shoulders. You deserve to stop any and all negative self-talk. You deserve to think highly of yourself. You deserve a little grace. We all deserve these things, and giving ourselves what we deserve starts with giving ourselves permission to change our situations.
Need more explanation? Hear me out. Lately I feel like I’m noticing everyone has a habit of putting a lot of pressure on themselves, myself included. We’re all making plans or commitments without the possibility of deviation and leaving zero room for a change in course. We’re setting ourselves up for feelings of shame, guilt and failure when we don’t leave any room for adjustments. Which just isn’t going to work since life seems to love to force us to adjust, adapt and change. So we need to figure something else out. I’ve needed to figure out a way to deal with these moments when a situation causes me to resort to feeling shame, assigning myself blame, and in general think negatively about who I am as a person. None of those things are okay, and it’s a habit that I’m learning how to break.
Breaking the habit hasn’t been easy and I wouldn’t say I’m fully cured, but I’m definitely getting a lot better at accepting changes and assigning positive qualities to them rather then allowing the weight on my shoulders to just build and build. I’ve been learning how giving myself permission has been a key factor in pushing out the negative self talk and replacing it with peace.
For example, before I started my last semester of college, I gave myself permission to change my major. I fought feeling like a quitter or failure in order to do what I truly wanted. In the end, it didn’t matter that I had spent so much time working towards an education degree, because that wasn’t where my heart was. Deciding to change my focus wasn’t a testament to me as a quitter, but to me actually putting myself first. It wasn’t until I stopped being in denial and told myself, "it's okay if you don't want to be a teacher," that I found peace with myself and the negative thoughts went away.
After graduating and months before my lease was ending in Milwaukee, I worried and stressed and scrambled to make plans to move somewhere new. Moving back home was out of the question and the thought of doing so seemed like the ultimate failure. I caused myself a lot of torment and grief when I realized that moving home was exactly what was going to happen. Even though I knew it was what was best at the time, I still kept a weight on my shoulders, punishing myself for not figuring something out sooner. Once again, it wasn’t until (recently) I truly gave myself permission to stop looking at my time at home as a sign of failure but rather an opportunity I was lucky to have. Only then did I start feeling true peace. I had to tell myself that “its okay” that I didn’t have it all figured out. Despite what I believed or worried others thought, I’m still a motivated and driven person and moving home didn’t change that part of me.
Recently, in the artistic part of my life, I’ve had to accept that I can’t force my art to be something it’s not. Just because I don’t have the business end of things all figured out doesn’t mean I don’t have valuable plans and ideas that are worth exploring and it definitely doesn’t mean I won’t make it there eventually. I recently experienced a setback when I realized that a certain avenue for selling my work actually wasn’t the right fit for me after I had put so much pressure on it to be my path to future success. This realization made me feel like a total failure for a moment. It caused me to question my art and tell myself that I must have done something wrong, which just isn’t right. Turning these thoughts around came much easier this time because I looked at the situation in a more positive light before I let it consume me. Instead of relishing in a negative feeling, I’m choosing to look at this as a sign that there are better plans and opportunities for my art elsewhere. I’m giving myself permission to be true to myself and just create the art that represents me, trusting that is how I will find my success.
These situations may sound like no big deal, and for you maybe they wouldn’t be. But we all have situations that affect us deeply and that we tend to give power over the way we feel. Today, I wanted to remind us all that we deserve to be in charge of how we feel about ourselves, and a change in plans doesn’t warrant us as bad people.
I’m hoping you can relate to these feelings in one way or another. Maybe you have some situations in your life that you are giving too much power. Maybe you need to change some plans, say no sometimes, or start looking at a closed door as a new opportunity. Whatever it may be, I think a good place to start is giving yourself permission to make the decision that is best for you. In each instance I shared, I felt a literal weight lifted every time I finally said “its okay.” So lets stop all of the negative self-talk and drowning in our own pressure. All it takes is being honest and true to yourself and choosing to live with a little more grace. Before the New Year, relieve your shoulders of some of the weight that they carry. You deserve it. Give yourself permission.