For quite some time, the word “allowing” has been prominent in my thought process and I often talk about it when conducting couples therapy but recently, also in the individual work I do. The first definition of “allow” is “to give permission to or for; permit”. I find that we, as individuals, can achieve a tremendous amount of personal peace if we can only master the concept of “allowing” in terms of our relationships but also and predominately in terms of our ‘self’.
What does it mean, really, to allow when we speak of ourselves? After deep reflection and several attempts at this blog post, I believe that “allowing” means we must give permission to ourselves to BE who we are. I believe it speaks to those things that we determine are less than desirable; after all, it’s only problematic if we don’t LIKE it, right? I believe we need to ALLOW ourselves to be less than the perfect concoction of what we think is the best.
We are constantly being encouraged to practice “acceptance” (def: receive with approval) and the ‘approval’ element creates a block, a wall, for many of us in part because some of us have never FELT approval. We may be too tall, too thin, too heavy, too short, too poor, too old, too young, too happy, too sad, too quiet, too loud, etc… and experience DIS-approval more than we experience approval from the world around us.
“If a man cannot understand the beauty of life, it is probably because life never understood the beauty in him.” ― Criss Jami
It goes, also, for the way we feel about others… It’s difficult to ‘approve’ of a choice that is different from our own value system. It is difficult to ‘approve’ behavior that is hurtful. It is difficult to ‘approve’ when someone we love makes a decision different than the one we had hoped for.
Perhaps, the better strategy to work on FIRST … is that of “allowing”. Permitting something is more of an acknowledgment rather than approval and I believe that is essential to eventually developing acceptance of anything. In fact, allowing is synonymous with acknowledgment. Allowing is when you acknowledge what makes you unique. Allowing is when you acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. Allowing is when you see things exactly for what they are; acknowledging what is real.
What does allowing actually look like in terms of thoughts and or behavior?
- Acknowledge that I am not perfect
- Acknowledge that I am aging
- Acknowledge that I have fears
- Acknowledge that I get frustrated
- Acknowledge that I have strong opinions
- Acknowledge that I love to eat
- Acknowledge that I love deeply
- Acknowledge that I contradict myself
- Acknowledge that I sometimes waste time
- Acknowledge that I sometimes take the easy way out
- Acknowledge that I sometimes disappoint people I care about
In order for anyone to truly ACCEPT themselves, they must honestly assess and ALLOW for the components that they, personally, find less than some ideal in their mind. Once there is an acknowledgement of all the characteristics that compile the person, acceptance is possible. If not, and we attempt to ‘hide’ those –less than desirable- pieces, our subconscious cannot connect to acceptance.
You can’t say “I like me just the way I am” if you don’t acknowledge or allow for ALL of you.
And, remember that the only person you can change – is YOURSELF so allowing others (acknowledging the WHOLE of them) is helpful in that it helps you to consider ‘permitting’ them to just be who THEY are. In fact, the best relationships practice “allowing” consistently. There is an open acknowledgment that the other person is different than ourselves, has different thoughts and perceptions; a different world view even.
This isn’t to say that one shouldn’t attempt to change or improve upon something that is – less than desirable – but only speaks to the fact that in order for it to change, it must be acknowledged. If your core belief is that you must be perfect in order to be loved – you will never feel loved – period! Let’s face it… perfection does not exist except in the sense that the whole of my strengths and imperfections comprise the ‘perfect me’. You can be motivated to improve upon any number of factors; lose weight, build muscle, get more education, develop esteem, argue less, become more self aware, etc…. but if you expect to be perfect – ever – you will constantly be battling your inner self, your subconscious, the part of your that knows and IS acknowledging the imperfections that are innate to WHO YOU ARE.
The secret, if you will, is to ALLOW for the possibility that you are right now… Perfectly YOU; faults and all. You will love more deeply when you realize that your partner, mother, father, sister, brother, and friends are all perfectly THEM and allow them to experience themselves as they take their own journey through this life.
“To the people who love you, you are beautiful already. This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings but because they so clearly see your soul. Your shortcomings then dim by comparison. The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and beautiful, too.”
― Victoria Moran, Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty