You Gotta Be You

We all have those moments when we think of doing something / saying something / going somewhere and we get a little excited inside. We get giddy about something and feel like it’s the right thing to do / say / go to. Sometimes we act on that initial instinct and do what our gut is telling us we need to do.

Sometimes we don’t because that, oh so familiar, secondary voice chimes in. “Oh no. You can’t do that. You couldn’t possibly say that. You certainly can’t go there.” This little voice stomps on our excitement and we feel as deflated as little Jimmy as he watches his delectable, triple scoop vanilla ice cream cone drop to the sidewalk in the middle of a hot summer day (insert sad trombone here).

So what happened? Why do we toss aside the initial excitement of something that could be great to pacify a disapproving, limiting and often critical inside voice? Well, sometimes the idea really won’t work or it’s truly not in our favour. I won’t for a minute dismiss that sometimes we need to step back from what we want to do and figure out if it’s indeed the right thing to do. But that’s different.

I’m talking about giving yourself permission here. 

The permission to be you.

The permission to stretch beyond your comfort zone.

The permission to set boundaries on people around you.

The permission to explore the world around you.

The permission to pursue a dream.

We wear masks in an attempt to appear stronger or smarter than we are. There’s no point in always acting like things are fine when they’re really not. There’s no shame in admitting we don’t know something and asking for help or advice.

Sometimes we need permission to throw aside the masks we all wear in an attempt to fit in, please people, abide by unrealistic expectations we impose on ourselves or others impose upon us.

We can often wait for something external to grant us permission. We wait for approval and permission from people, from the world. “When my friends agree with me that I’ve utterly exhausted all possibilities of reconciling with my ex-husband, then we’ll really call it quits.” “When my boss gives me an executive title, then I’ll start working like one.” Etcetera, etcetera.

When we wait for external forces to give us permission to do something / be something / go somewhere, we could easily be waiting forever.

It’s time to give yourself permission.

Take the mask off. Be you. Accept who you are and don’t be afraid to show everyone else. (Unless you’re a complete asshole and you have a ‘nice to people’ mask that you put on. In that case, you might want to think about how you can make that mask a bigger part of who you are. Just sayin’.)

Let’s make this official. I don’t want you to say it and have that pesky little voice chime in and convince you otherwise. I don’t want you to forget that you made a promise to yourself, to be yourself. When you have to remember something, you write that shit down. You smack a Post It somewhere as a visual reminder. You set an appointment on your phone, in your calendar. So let’s set a reminder here.

Here. Voila. An official Permission Certificate.

I’m not trying to be playful or cute.

I’m dead freaking serious.

Print it. Fill it out. And be honest with yourself here.

Think of where you’re not giving yourself permission because you’re waiting for something or someone to tell you it’s ok to be you. Post this somewhere you’ll see it everyday. Somewhere it can reside as a constant reminder. And for God’s sake be nice to yourself. If you pick something that you’ve been avoiding for years, it won’t be an automatic thing where you strip the mask off completely in one fell swoop and toss it away forever. But make the vow to do something small everyday to live more in tune with your authentic self.

When we pretend to be something we’re not, we’re lying to ourselves and others. That drains our energy. It manifests as anger. We start to resent people for treating us according to the ways we teach them to treat us when we’re actually something or someone very different. Besides all that, life is easier when you are who you are, without having to pretend you’re something you’re not.

Image by Alison Watt Jackson.

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