When was it you decided that it wasn’t O.K. to take a break? When was it you decided that you needed always to pick the cheapest flat brown shoes rather than the more expensive heeled t-bar ones even if you had the money for the more expensive ones and buying them really wasn’t a problem? When did you stay up late because it would feel too ‘lazy’ to go to bed early? When did you workout even though you felt tired in every muscle of your body?
There was a time when I wasn’t great at giving myself permission slips. There was one time that I felt that there was liquid trickling into my lungs and I could hardly breathe. It was the middle of winter and snow was thick on the ground. I was home with my baby and had to walk to get to the doctors. The roads were too bad to get there by road. I pushed the pram through the snow feeling the struggle of each step.
The night before I had done a yoga or pilates workout because I wouldn’t give my body a permission slip to back off from my regular workout routine. I don’t think that particular workout was very effective. I was like a slug trying to do trampolining, raising my body off the floor for plank felt pretty difficult. I got to the doctors and it turned out that I had acute bronchitis. I remember I asked the doctor whether it was O.K. to continue with ‘gentle’ workouts’ and she gave me a look that said I would be better off in bed.
We learn in adult life to push ourselves beyond what is comfortable and beyond what we actually have to do because we hold in our minds some finish line about what we could really achieve if only we were motivated and disciplined enough. Doing this though is like forcing yourself to attend a school where all the lessons are boring and the teachers are super strict. You attend this life school even though there is an alternative. If there are two schools of life: one like a Victorian classroom and the other more like Glee – which one do you want to attend?
I remember at school there were kids that brought a note from their mum every week to get out of doing P.E.. I remember thinking they really ‘ought’ to be doing P.E.. That’s one of the words we use when we force ourselves to do things – ‘ought’. Another one is ‘should’ as in ‘I should learn every single coaching tool in great depth before I can be an excellent coach.’
What would happen if instead of acting on all the ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’ you gave yourself a permission slip?
Visualise your permission slip (especially fun exercise if you like stationery as much as I do, see http://www.smythson.com for inspiration).
What colour paper is it on?
Quality and weight of paper?
Any family / baronial crest?
Any silk ribbon?
What’s the envelope like?
How are you addressed on the envelope? ( give yourself a title for fun if you like)
Imagine reading this permission slip for the thing you want to do. Then imagine placing this permission slip on a beautiful mantlepiece in the home of your dreams.
(N.B. check first with your conscious about the morality of what you give yourself permission to do and that it isn’t against the law)
When you feel the need to push yourself into doing the thing that you do not want to do imagine yourself going up to the mantlepiece and taking down your permission slip. Imagine turning over the permission slip and finding that on the back are written some ideas of things that would be much more fun to do instead.
These are your alternative missions.