Hang on a mo, do you really think you’re allowed to do what you need, to say what you want, to feel how you feel, to think those thoughts and be the real you? Says who?!
In this episode we look at:
Pressing Pause Podcast episode 79 Wait, is that allowed?
Welcome to Pressing Pause. I’m Gabrielle Treanor, a coach and writer, and I’m here to share with you ideas, inspiration and actions to empower you to overcome your overwhelm so you can feel calm, confident and in control.
Hello and welcome to episode 79.
A spur of the moment post I shared on Instagram at the end of December last year became my most liked post ever and my third most saved post, according to my Instagram insights! It was a graphic that read:
Let’s be clear on a few things:
You don’t have to reflect on 2020.
You don’t have to plan for 2021.
You don’t have to choose a word for next year.
You don’t have to do, think, feel or say anything that anyone else is.
If you want to, you can.
If you don’t want to that’s okay too.
The three things I say at the start of the post that you don’t have to do – reflect, plan or choose a word – I did and I’ve posted about them here on the podcast and on Instagram. So I didn’t disagree with doing any of these at all, how could I when I was doing them myself?! But I took time to reflect on the past year and to plan for this year, and I chose a guiding word because I chose to. Because I wanted to, not because I felt any pressure to. And I shared my thoughts on doing all those things here on the podcast in case it was of help to you.
But even though we know that we don’t have to do something, nobody’s forcing us to, we can still feel that obligation. That feeling that we should be doing what everyone else is doing. That we ought to, it would be the right thing to do, that we’re lacking, failing or missing out if we don’t.
And that’s why I shared that post on Instagram, because I wanted to put a permission slip out there for anyone who needed it that they don’t have to do what they see other people doing. Turned out a lot of people needed that permission!
When you think about it, there’s a lot in life that we can struggle to give ourselves permission for. Stuff that we just don’t feel we can do, we don’t feel we’re allowed to do the thing or allowed to not do the thing. Or to feel what we feel. Or to think what we’re thinking. Or to say what we want to say. Or to be who we want to be.
Think for a moment of the different ways you don’t believe you have permission or you don’t allow yourself in ordinary, everyday life. Maybe you tell yourself you shouldn’t feel so fed up because other people are having a harder time than you. Perhaps you curb your excitement over some good news because you don’t want to seem self-centred. Or maybe you keep on reading a book you’re not enjoying because it seems wrong to stop before finishing. Or perhaps you say yes to doing yet another Zoom quiz even though you wanted to say no.
There are little and big examples throughout our days where we stop ourselves from doing or feeling or saying what we want or need because we just don’t think we allowed to. It’s just not what we should do. It’s not what we’re supposed to do. It’s not what a nice, good girl would do. We ought to think, feel, be, say or do something else that is somehow considered permissible.
We might not even be fully aware that’s what we’re doing but on a deeper level we’ll know because we feel uncomfortable, it feels heavy or onerous or something just doesn’t feel right. It adds to our stress levels and creates feelings of overwhelm and a lack of control.
When we’re aware that we want to do something but we don’t feel that we ought to, it’s not really right that we do it, we might look around for someone else to give us permission. Maybe you sigh loudly about how tired you are in the hope your partner suggests you take a long bath and get an early night. Or perhaps you remark to your boss how interesting the new project sounds in the hope she suggests you work on it because you don’t think you should ask outright.
All of this holding ourselves back, denying our feelings, biting our tongues, taking on unwanted tasks or responsibilities – it all takes up so much time and energy and brainpower.
For some of the beliefs more work and exploration is needed to deal with the difficulties in feeling we have the permission we want and need (our white dominated, patriarchal society has a lot to answer for).
And for others it can be as simple as being given a permission slip. That can come from someone else and, as happened with my Instagram post, it can be the little nudge you’re looking for to allow yourself what you want and need. But what’s most powerful of all is when you can give yourself that permission slip. When you recognise it’s someone else’s voice in your head saying you can’t say no, or feel sad or happy, or get take out for dinner, when you acknowledge that you have the ultimate say over your own life, when you realise that you don’t have to wait for someone else to allow you to do, think, feel, be or say what you know is right for you – you can give yourself permission.
Writing yourself that permission slip can feel weird and uncomfortable if it’s not something you’re used to doing but it’s also pretty empowering. And you don’t have to start with anything huge. Maybe it’s allowing yourself to work on the couch, or even in bed, instead of at your desk (Zoom meetings permitting). Or letting yourself have a cry when you feel a wave of sadness. Or logging off social media for a while without telling anyone you’re going or apologising when you return.
I gave myself permission to record and post this episode a day later than usual. That’s something I’ve struggled with because I didn’t want you to think badly of me, to think I’m inconsistent or flaky. But, one, I don’t know what you think and there’s a good chance you haven’t even noticed that this is a day later than usual. And two, there are a few podcasts whose episodes I never miss and I would never think badly of them if (and when) they miss a few days or week. So I’m challenging that story and giving myself permission to record this podcast when I want to, when I feel I have something of value to say and not just because the schedule says I should do. That way it feels good to me to do and I’m pretty sure you’ll get a better episode than if I was acting out of obligation.
Here’s the thing: giving yourself a permission slip isn’t just about doing the one thing that slip is for. It’s about much more than that. Because denying yourself permission, having an internal struggle where the stories you’ve been told, the messages you’ve been given, the beliefs you’ve taken on, do battle with the quiet, wise, inner voice that knows what’s truly right for you, that struggle uses up your precious and valuable energy and keeps you stuck in overwhelm. By beginning to recognise where you’ve been curbing yourself, and what’s causing you to do that, you can start to challenge it, bit by bit, and in doing so bring down the overwhelm and free yourself to be yourself.
So, what have you been stopping yourself from feeling or saying or doing?
Where might the belief that you aren’t allowed come from?
What would you gain if you allowed yourself even just a couple of the things that you’ve been denying yourself?
What are you going to give yourself permission for today?
I’d love to know. You can message me on Instagram where I’m @gabrielletreanor, you can find the post I’ve talked about here from 30 December on my grid too, or you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you’d like some support with working through what’s getting in the way of you living in a way that feels good, with bringing down the overwhelm and creating more space for ease and joy in your life, get in touch and we can have a chat. You can find out more about coaching with me at gabrielletreanor.com/coaching and you can book yourself into my online calendar there.
Thanks for listening, until next time, lovely people.
Throughout this website and my work when I refer to women I include people identifying as women.
If you have, or think you may have, a mental health problem that requires professional diagnosis or treatment, please consult a mental health care professional and your GP.
You can also talk to the people at Mind on 0300 123 3393 or SANE on 0300 304 7000 or Samaritans on 116 123.
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