In the last month, I’ve attended two separate conferences that spoke to the idea of permission slips. I think I’d better pay attention. Admittedly, I was the kid who followed the rules growing up. If my parents didn’t give the nod, I was a no go. Likely bitter in a little kid way, but compliant. I was not the kid who forged notes at school. Although, and this is a true story, my mom taught me how to forge her name, just in case I needed it. I mastered it quickly, particularly since she writes textbook cursive. I have no recollection of ever taking advantage of that skill though, since I would likely be bending a rule to do so.
If you’re not already getting the picture, let me paint it clearly. I am responsible. To this day, responsibility – even perceived responsibility – comes first. Over the last few years, I’ve worked on breaking that trend, but it’s a tricky one. The voices in my head have a party every time I try. They taunt me, mock me, tell me things that aren’t true. Mainly around performance driven worth.
Did that make you squirm in your seat? Performance driven worth is a myth. We perform, perform, perform, but that doesn’t make us any worthier. Particularly as a Christian, I get my worth from God. It’s plain and simple. Your worth doesn’t come from what you do, it comes from who you are.
The drive to be responsible and forego fun, relaxation, self-care? It’s ridiculous.
That’s why the idea of permission slips is incredibly appealing to me. Think about it. A permission slip is like a get out of jail free card. It’s me telling me that whatever it is I’m giving myself permission to do, or want, or believe, is ok. Now, I know it sounds a little “Woo Woo”, maybe even silly, but stay with me. Imagine that thing you wanted to do with all your heart when you were young. Maybe a trip you wanted to take on winter break from school. But there were other pressures, work, family, all talking louder in your head. True story, I took this trip, but got permission from my Dad, and folks, I was an adult – a college age adult – but an adult nonetheless.
As an adult, particularly at this stage in life, shouldn’t it be me who is giving myself permission. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t asked my Dad in years. But I’ll be honest, the voices I hear in my head as I contemplate taking one action or another, are they mine or someone else’s? Sometimes it’s a repeating tape that I’m sure my parents didn’t record, and would probably laugh at, but I internalized as true.
What permission slip would you want to write yourself? I think mine would go something like this…
Dear Lisa, this is your permission slip to live a bold life. You can have your own thoughts, your own beliefs. You have permission to make mistakes, the world will not end. You have permission to dream, what have you been waiting for anyways? While you’re at it, you not only have permission, but I am telling you – replace those crappy floors in your house, and the bathroom. You’re waiting for circumstances to be perfect, but they never will be. And take a nap! The world won’t pass you by. You spend a lot of time thinking and I give you permission to simply BE. Be, and love, and experience all that is your life. Your authentic self is chomping at the bit to move forward. Take her lead, take risks, you have my permission.
What would your permission slip look like? Would it be to live boldly, to finally forgive a loved one who hurt you, to take a well-deserved break in your life? You don’t need permission for any of it because you know yourself better than anyone. You know what it would look like to live your best life. Yet, the permission slip helps. Even when it’s from yourself. Try it. Be brave. Then get ready for what will show up in your life!