The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways in which we navigate our daily lives. Prior to the pandemic, our place and pace in the world often excelled at a rate that left little time for self-reflection, personal examination, and questioning. With all of the shifts we’ve had to make, a topic that has come to mind for me is permission. When I talk about permission, it’s not about overindulgence, a pass to excess, or shunning responsibility – I’m talking about personal authorization to do things differently.
It can be hard to give ourselves permission when in many areas of our lives – from childhood into adulthood – we feel the need to ask for permission to do what we want or be ourselves. Fear of disapproval from our spouse, family, friends, or coworkers is often the driving force in many of our decisions.
There are consequences when you don’t give yourself permission to do what you want or be yourself.
Feeling the need to ask for permission can have ramifications on our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health. Feelings of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and a host of other mental health challenges can stem from feeling a need to gain permission from others. When we struggle with giving ourselves permission, we lack trust and self-advocacy. We can get lost and feel challenged in our ability to live a life that we are truly connected to.
Feelings of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and a host of other mental health challenges can stem from feeling a need to gain permission from others.
The challenges and restrictions associated with COVID-19 have given many of us one positive change – more time.
With the removal of all the noise and outside influence of our typical daily lives, this extra time can be seen as an opportunity to listen to what drives us emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically.
Perhaps it’s time to give yourself a permission slip to find who you truly are and be who you want to be. This can be difficult because the world around us sends us daily messages that reflect the overachieving, fast-pasted world, but we now have the opportunity to redefine how we navigate our daily lives. This could be a chance to create a new outlook, try new hobbies, go at a slower speed, engage in self-care, and put our needs at the top or closer to the top of the list.
We have an opportunity to slow down.
I am admittedly a bit of a perfectionist. If and when I choose to embark on a task, the end of goal is my version of perfection. If this is not feasible, I usually move on to something else. I am also an endless list maker. In part, my sense of daily accomplishment lies in my ability to cross as many items as possible off my to-do list. With the forced slowing down of our world, I have had to give myself a permission slip to slow down – to redefine how I measure personal success. I have been afforded moments to reexamine what is truly important and how I want to spend my time.
Perhaps it’s time to give yourself a permission slip to find who you truly are and be who you want to be.
Here are two ways you can give yourself permission to slow down:
- Limit your availability. With most of us continuously connected to our phones, the expectation has become for us to be available and responsive almost instantly. A voicemail, text, email, social media message, etc., carry the presumption of an almost instant response. Whether we are aware or not, this can create a spike in our cortisol levels and cause stress with the expectation of consistent availability. We can extend ourselves permission in this area of our lives if we so choose. Setting boundaries around when we are available is one way we can give ourselves permission.
- Be mentally still. Many of us feel there is an expectation that we be consistently productive – to be able to account for our time in a way that reflects an output of some kind. Another unexpected gift that may have come from this pandemic is time to allow our brains to slow down and think. This may sound overly simplistic, but we rarely give ourselves permission to slow down and let our minds wander. We can do this by sitting and putting pen to paper, letting our thoughts fill a page, or just being still and reflecting. I have done this recently and have been surprise at how effective this exercise can be in helping me organize my priorities and feel more connected to myself and my personal goals for the day.
Perhaps as we begin to ease into our “new normal,” the hope can be to explore without the expectation of perfection and measure self-worth and personal achievement without the need of approval or permission.
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