A Big Ol' Dose of Permission
My wife and I are big fans of the show "So You Think You Can Dance." There are so many reasons to tune into it, but for me it comes down to the positivity and encouragement of the show.
Their contestants are often young and yet through their performances they tackle things like acceptance, tolerance, human rights, injustice, and more. Last week there was a performance that had me in tears. You can watch it here.
There are many reasons to love this piece but what dug itself into my heart was the sheer courage to say, without words, so much about the power in being who we are, through and through, even when it's inconvenient for others.
After the piece was over, one of the judges commented, "It's incredible how difficult we've made it for people to simply be who they are, and trust that it's OK to be who they are . . ."
I found myself nodding emphatically.
No matter how many people I coach. No matter how many emails I send. No matter how many books I recommend or journal prompts I hand out...I can't solve this for anyone. I don't know if I can make the world a more tolerable place but I DO know I can help people trust their path wholeheartedly.
In just two months I will embark on another year of Awaken Your Life with a small group of students - students who are seeking more than just how to help people. They are also seeking how to be wholly themselves while helping people.
It sounds so simple . . . and yet what I find more often than not is that we are hungry for knowledge but starved for self-acceptance.
We want to know "the" path but are quick to hide once we find it.
We want to help change the world but are quick to exempt ourselves from saving ourselves.
We are hungry to understand why things are as they are but we are also seeking simple solutions that may not exist.
As I said to a current Awaken Your Life student, "Mend what breaks your heart in the world by seeking wholeheartedness within yourself."
Is it that simple? No.
Is it remotely easy? Nope.
Is it a worthy quest? Absolutely.
When I first created Awaken Your Life, I followed a call to show my fellow wayfinders and life guides a more whole path to themselves and to serving others.
But even while I was writing the curriculum, planning beautiful retreats, and inviting people to apply . . . I hadn't yet given myself permission to really own this path. It was almost like I was watching myself do all of these things but wasn't embodying that I was allowed to do these things.
I mean, who I am to teach? Who am I to instruct? Who am I to facilitate? Perhaps your "Who am I to...?" questions are different but I know you have them. We all do.
I need to back up to this word - allowed. It wasn't that I needed allowance from others; I had been given that. It wasn't that I needed allowance from my students because they were showing up. No, I needed allowance from myself.
Allowance means how much something has been permitted. In other words, how much permission was I giving myself? How much permission have you given yourself?
These are powerful words because they open doors.
Although I was hesitant to put this work out there, I did anyway. Because it ultimately wasn't about me. Sharing this work was and still is about showing others their own light. It's the ripple effect that keeps me moving through my own fears.
I will never forget at the end of the first in-residence retreat and more than 40 hours of teaching later I looked every single one of my students in the eyes and said, "Thank you. I get it now. I AM allowed."
And so are you. You are allowed. More than me telling you this, I hope you tell yourself this.
Ultimately, trusting what calls you has to come from within, and the permission to go after it when you hear your call also has to be your own.