What Elizabeth Gilbert Taught Me About Giving Yourself A Permission

What Elizabeth Gilbert Taught Me About Giving Yourself A Permission How do you know you are good? From an early age we're taught the rules and regulations of how to be part of society and institutions. We learn to obey the laws of the school we go to, and we absorb the values and habits of our family as truths. Most of us grow up in an environment where you are not encouraged to challenge and question the status quo, just quietly follow. And if you do you're labelled as a trouble maker, a problem child and swiftly sent to the Head Master's office for punishment.

It is no wonder then that as adults we struggle to do what our heart tells us. We feel constantly guilty if we put our own needs and desires first, if our house is not immaculate at all times and if our ambition exceeds that of our peers.

Institutions don't really care about the individual. Religions, corporations, tribes or any other organised groups of humans are formed for the benefit of the entity, not the individual. The entity wants to thrive and to do that it protects itself by saying: if you think like me, you are welcome. If you don't obey me, I will cast you out!

Fear of being labelled different and left out of our social unit keeps us stuck.

When I interviewed women who had left large corporations after a long career they said that leaving the unit felt like the company had betrayed them, even when they themselves had made the decision to leave. "I felt exiled, and went into a long period of mourning." said one woman.

I recently attended Elizabeth Gilbert's workshop 'Big Magic' in London. You may know her from 'Eat, Pray, Love', but for me her work on creativity and living enchanted life is what made me dedicate the sunny Royal Wedding Saturday to see her instead.

I absolutely loved her style, very little 'theory' and mostly exercises and sharing. Just like at DrivenWoman!

To get over our need for constant validation and approval from an external source she made us write The Ultimate Permission Slip from the inner Head Master to ourselves. I have always called the inner Head Master The Controller.

It's the inner voice that says you're no good and that you indeed need external validation and approval.

What ever you call yours, I will ask you now, (yes, now!) to take pen and paper and write your own permission slip to yourself. (At DrivenWoman we don't muck around, let's make things happen, shall we... )

This is what I wrote.
A Permission Slip From The Ultimate Authority

I give you a permission to...

slow down and take a 5 day holiday

take no more meetings into my calendar in June

clear your calendar for writing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for 4 hours each morning

buy new rubber boots for the cottage though you have a pair you got as a leaving present 20 years ago and you have hated them ever since

throw out absolutely everything that doesn't serve you anymore

As you can see I'm very specific with my permissions. This is important! Like working through your next steps on My Action Plan sheet (part of our Lifeworking process) it's important you know exactly what to do. It's no good to give yourself a permission for more time on self care. What does it mean? Does it mean booking a yoga lesson? Or going for a forest walk for one hour every Monday? Be specific!

What will your ultimate permission slip say?

A Permission Slip From The Ultimate Authority, 

I give you a permission to...

not to pick up toys Monday to Thursday

look for a new job and admit that you are not happy!

explore your business idea and not tell anyone about it

do more things that excite you including signing up to a salsa class (you used to LOVE salsa!)

sell that piano because you are never going to learn to play it, and not feel guilty about it

throw out all those old jeans

have another baby

to say 'no' to dinner requests from friends that actually really bore you

stay at home with your kids as long as it feels right and not return to the City

publish that blog you've been writing for months and not feel shamed about it

buy the daring dress you have been dreaming of, you earned the money (though your mother-in-law will not approve)

put yourself first

Now, with that permission slip boldly in your hand I ask you to go out there and start living the life you already knew you wanted.

And this is exactly what Elizabeth had to say about it:

Start knowing what you already know.

We all know deep down what we want. It's just so much easier to keep saying that we don't know because not trying feels somehow safer. But then one day turns into a week, a week into a year and suddenly you have let your life pass you by never really exploring what you are made of!

That would be my worst nightmare. And I assume also yours, you are part of this kick-ass tribe that will go out there and brave any comfort zone to follow our hearts.

So let's start giving ourselves the permission to know what we are already knowing. To know what you want. To know what you don't want. To know who you want to spend your time with. To know what you want to create. To know where you want to work. To know how you want to feel and be.

Please share in the comments what's on your Ultimate Permission Slip? Let's make those permissions happen.

~ Miisa

To embrace life fully and make sure you follow through with your Ultimate Permission Slip action points, find a local Lifeworking group and let like-minded women support you and keep you accountable to your goals and dreams.
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