When I was in my twenties consistently eating healthy was a struggle for me. I always tried to avoid sweet and indulgent foods, only to eventually overindulge in them. Then out of nowhere something strange began to happen: I gave myself permission to eat what I truly wanted.
And you know what happened? I didn’t overeat or go crazy like I thought I would. In fact, my eating made a huge turn for the better. I made another discovery: I actually prefer to eat nutritious foods most of the time. These 5 empowering words — I give myself permission to — completely changed my relationship with food.
But these days, giving myself permission is not just about food. I’ve had to learn the hard way that giving myself permission is especially important for anyone in the throes of modern parenting. Michelle Segar writes about this in her book, No Sweat, in terms of moving your body more. But you know, giving yourself permission can range from doing something healthy, not-so healthy or completely neutral to one’s health. But if it is in tune with what you really need, it enhances feelings of well-being every single time.
Here are some examples:
- I give myself permission to have a piece (or two) of chocolate cake, because chocolate is what I’m craving.
- I give myself permission to not have chocolate cake because it just doesn’t sound good.
- I give myself permission to work out because it will enhance my day, even with an out-of-control to-do list.
- I give myself permission to skip my work out because it will only add more stress to an already packed day.
- I give myself permission to have coffee with a friend because I need connection, even though time is limited.
- I give myself permission to cancel with a friend because it’s just one of those days.
- I give myself permission to blow off my Sunday to-do’s (grocery shopping, getting ready for the week) and stay in my PJs with my kids, order take out and watch a movie because I just know I need a break.
- I give myself permission to spend much of my Sunday getting ready for the week because I know it’s going to be a crazy week.
- I give myself permission to pursue an interest or different career even though it will sound crazy to my family and friends.
- I give myself permission to focus on what I’m doing now, and not feel like I have to do anything more to impress anyone.
For me, this process is about tuning out the shoulds, doubts and fears in my head and figuring out what it is I truly want. Now we all have responsibilities and it’s certainly not about ignoring the things that need to be done. It’s simply being mindful about all the decisions that add up to the life you really want, not someone else’s version. I know that the more I give myself permission to do what my heart calls out for, the more authentic I feel in the way I live my life. And that makes for happier parenting and a healthier me.
What inspired this post is that I’m at home sick. I’m feeling a bit better so I could do some stuff around the house and make the chicken enchiladas I have on my rotation. But I’m giving myself permission not to. My husband will be taking the kids out to dinner and I will vegetate on the couch and catch up on TV. They can survive a day without me!
It’s funny. As I am writing this, that annoying voice in my head is telling me that no one will want to read a post like this. But I immediately tune it out and give myself permission to write (and publish) it anyway.
What have you giving yourself permission to do lately?