Permission to be done (and Happy Halloween!)

Periods of transition are often (but not always) synonymous with letting go. It might be letting go of a job, a relationship, a home — but, in a deeper and broader sense, this letting go is often a letting go of who we used to be.

One of the issues that can arise here is one of permission. My Autumn Transition Coaching Sessions are underway (you can find out more about these here), and something that has come up more than once so far is “permission to be done.”

Recently, I ran into someone I worked with years ago. Running into her, recognizing each other and catching up a bit, reminded me of the many pleasant and kind people I worked with in that job, and as we parted ways I found myself thinking, just for a moment or two,  “Why did I ever quit that job? That was a good situation for me.”

And it was … until it wasn’t. I can remember Fridays back then, done with work for the week, when I’d walk home in the dwindling sunlight (I had an insanely short commute, one of the great perks of that job), feeling so satisfied with my life and grateful for what I had.

Except, in truth, there were only a handful of those happy Fridays, max. (Memory is funny like that. ) That period of satisfaction didn’t last all that long. Things changed, I changed — my essential self wanted a different experience — and it started to become time for me to be done.

And yet, being “done” with that job was a process for me, in and of itself.

Looking back, I can see that there were various “parts” to being done. There was the part where I wanted to be done — but really, truly wasn’t. And that part went on for a pretty long time. Because the “me” who wanted to be done with the job was in conflict with the “me” who wasn’t ready to be done, a struggle ensued, and until both “me’s” were on the same side, it wasn’t truly time for change.

And then, after what seemed like ages, I was ready. Except I had a hard time giving myself permission to be done. Because once I was no longer in inner conflict, I recognized the plain old fact that my job was just pretty pleasant, and I worked with nice people, and I had good benefits. (And there was that insanely short commute!)

When we’re making changes or decisions from a pretty peaceful place like that, we’re actually on much more solid ground than when we try to change from a place of dissatisfaction and unrest (this is usually a sign that we’re, actually, not quite done).

But it can also feel challenging, sometimes, to simply give ourselves that permission to be done.

We might have some fear or confusion around giving ourselves that permission — particularly if we think we might be letting others down in being done, or if we harbor the belief that “quitting is bad” or that being responsible means hanging in there for the long haul.

If we’re heavily identified with being “the person who sticks around”, it may be harder for us to give ourselves permission to be “the one who leaves” or “the one who lets go.” (Being done does not always look like leaving, but it usually feels like it to some extent! Even if the change we’re making is strictly an internal one, there is still an “inner leaving” process to go through, a letting go of the person we were.)

On the smaller scale, the day to day one, I notice that this time of fall, of Halloween, where the days are noticeably shorter, helps me give myself permission to be done with the day. When darkness creeps in more quickly, it’s like there’s a clearer line of distinction between day and night.

It also reminds me that, in many ways, I am not in control of beginnings and endings, of day and night, of the seasons of my life and of life in general.

While this can be unsettling, it’s also a relief. Recognizing where I do and don’t have control can be a big help in giving myself that permission to be done when I need it.

Where do you need permission to be done? What helps you give yourself this permission? I’d love to hear from you. And Happy Halloween! 

P. S. My Autumn Transition Coaching Sessions are underway and will be available through November 16, 2018. If you need some support in navigating a difficult transition this fall, I’d love to help. You can find out more about these sessions, here.

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When your inner guidance says “no”

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For many years, one of the hardest words for me to utter was “no”. To me, back then, “no” meant:

• cutting off an opportunity forever

• hurting someone’s feelings

• being perceived as rude or selfish

• admitting I couldn’t do it all (which, to my inner perfectionist, was akin to death!)

There were lots of other things “no” signified to me back in those days.

And an interesting thing happens when we are afraid of “no”: we don’t truly allow the inner wisdom that says “I don’t want this.” Or “the timing’s not right.” There is power in “no.”

A familiar struggle I notice with my coaching clients is this: An opportunity comes their way, but it doesn’t quite feel right. It looks good on paper, but something’s off. A part of them (and usually lots of friends and family, too), is telling them they should jump at the chance, but something tells them it’s either not the opportunity for them, or it’s a great opportunity, but not the right time.

This is a truly tricky spot to be in — if we let fear run the show. In fact, I was recently faced with a situation like this. An opportunity appeared and it looked great. But, somehow, it didn’t feel great. It felt exhausting — when I thought about actually doing it, I felt instantly tired and like I wanted to cry (this, I’ve come to learn, is one of my body’s ways of saying no when I try to push it).

Something I notice is that as I get closer and closer to “mastering” certain skills — in this case, the art of saying no! — the stakes in my decisions tend to feel higher and higher. I’ll hear myself saying, why does this feel so hard? Shouldn’t it be easier by now?

But life tends to throw us bigger challenges when we’re ready for a more challenging playing field. It’s like when you choose the “advanced” level in a video game instead of “intermediate”. Intermediate has gotten a little bit boring, but in the advanced level, it turns out the aliens shoot at you the whole time, not just off and on.

Even after many years of practice, I found it really hard to say no to this recent opportunity. But pushing myself through something that feels deeply exhausting is not walking my talk. It’s not what I stand for.

Let me tell you: the “yes” would have felt easier (in the moment). It is almost always easier for me to say yes when I am asked to participate. Saying yes doesn’t bring up my “stuff” the way no does (and I know this is not the case for everyone — some people have more difficulty with a genuine yes!).

In this case, I needed to say “yes” to permission to say no.

And you know what happened? I got so much support from the person I said no to. My genuine “no” — rather than closing off an opportunity — opened the door to the potential of future opportunities with this same person (who really appreciated my honest response).

I also had the experience of walking my talk when it comes to self-care — and being supported in doing so.

Had I said “yes” in order to not ruffle feathers, in order to not disappoint, in order to avoid the potential of beating myself up for “not doing enough”, I would have reinforced the idea that it’s not safe to say no.

And, my friends, we need to create evidence for ourselves that it is safe to do things that are hard.

Just as I once had an overstuffed file of evidence for my belief that saying no would mean I’d end up alone, I am building evidence for the contrary: saying no can be a powerful form of taking care of myself, and inviting others to support me in that self care — and participate in their own.

In her book The Language of Emotions, Karla McLaren calls situational depression “ingenious stagnation.” I wonder about this in terms of giving ourselves permission to say no to more of what our souls just don’t want — would we experience less depression if we had more permission to deliver an authentic no?

Do you find saying no difficult? What helps you do it when it feels scary? I’d love to hear from you.

(If you need help getting clear when you’re “on the fence” about a decision, you might find this post helpful.)

And: I’ll be enrolling in my Stellar Self-Care Coaching Program through the end of this month — I have room to work with two more people one-on-one. Please note that the small group version is currently full — but I will likely offer it again in the near future! Find out more here

Above image © creativecommonsstockphotos | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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Five things I’ve learned about trust

This is my second post for The Declaration of You BlogLovin’ Tour (scroll to the bottom of this post to find out more). This is the final week of the tour, and the topic is Trust.

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I used to think I couldn’t trust others and I couldn’t trust life. It took me a long time to see the turnaround: It was me I thought I couldn’t trust. Once I saw this, I wanted to really know what it meant to trust myself. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned:

1) Trusting myself means that I allow myself to experiment, to stretch, to make mistakes.

I first encountered the idea of trusting myself when I discovered the writing of Geneen Roth in my early twenties. I was a chronic dieter at the time, and Geneen’s concept of trusting myself to know when I was hungry and to stop eating when I was full was a radical thing to me.

When I first tried it, the perfectionist in me wanted to “do this trusting myself thing right.” I thought if I made a mistake, it was proof I couldn’t trust myself.

It took me a few years before I’d integrated the truth that trusting myself is about the way I relate to myself when things don’t go as I want them to — it is about the way I relate to myself, period. It has nothing to do with being “good” or “right” or even wise. It is a way of living in the world. It is a choice.

2) Self-trust is intimately linked to self-acceptance.

If I’m judging myself, you can bet I am not in a place of self-trust. In fact, I’ve found that my intuition will “hide out” when I’m judging myself harshly. Intuition is fierce, but it’s often quiet and subtle in how it comes to us.

My cat usually disappears when someone who speaks loudly and has heavy footsteps enters the house. Intuition is similar — it tends to hide out in the closet when my inner critic starts raging. It’s not that intuition is afraid of the inner critic (intuition fears nothing; it simply is). It’s more that intuition (like my cat) has a very low tolerance for drama. So it goes silent and seems to disappear when that harsh voice within me goes on a rampage.

I can always reconnect with my intuition, though. I just need to get quiet again. Intuition never fails to show up when I’m in a place of peace. And the more deeply I can accept myself, the more peaceful I feel.

3) Trusting myself means having faith that my intuition is there for a reason, and taking the risk to follow it.

It’s the process of acting on my intuition that makes me feel alive, not the outcome, which will never be completely within my control, and which, I’ve found, I often cannot accurately predict.

The more I trust myself to take action on my intuition, the better I get at it, because I create more and more evidence for the fact that it feels good and right and empowering when I trust myself. It’s like strengthening a muscle. (You may not be sure you have the “self-trust” muscle if you haven’t used it a lot — but you do. Trust me.)

4) No one else’s truth is a substitute for my own.

The best help from others is guidance that points me back to my own inner compass, and reminds me how important it is.

It’s good — and often necessary — to gather information and receive advice from others, especially those who’ve been where we are. But at some point, we need to sift through this guidance, integrate it, and check inside ourselves for what feels right for us.

How do we know it’s time to stop going to outside sources? When the information we’re getting is creating more confusion, not contributing to clarity.

5) “Trusting myself” is a belief system.

There are no guarantees of what the outcome will be if I trust myself.

I may trust myself, take action from that place, and find that things happen in a way I couldn’t have predicted.

I’d love to tell you that the way they happen is always better than I could ever have imagined — but while that is sometimes true, it doesn’t always feel like that. Sometimes, I trust myself and things don’t turn out the way I’d like them to — and I don’t understand why things happened the way they did until years later, if at all.

But regardless of outcome, it’s a heck of a lot easier for me to make decisions — and to live with them — when I operate from a platform of self-trust. It comes down to how I want to live: From a space of doubting myself, or from that solid foundation of knowing I’m worthy of my own trust.

I know this: It feels better to trust myself, and to act on that trust, than it does to spin my wheels in the sticky mud of indecision, doubt, and fear.

What have you learned about trust? I’d love to know — feel free to share, in the comments!

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The Declaration of You, published by North Light Craft Books and available now, gives readers all the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do. This post is part of The Declaration of You’s BlogLovin’ Tour, which I’m thrilled to participate in alongside over 200 other creative bloggers. Learn more — and join us! — by clicking here.

Top image is “Ferris Wheel” © James Hearn | Dreamstime Stock Photos