With New Year’s upon us and Auld Lang Syne behind us, talk of losing weight, spending more wisely, being more grateful and other resolutions have been filling the various social media streams. During the last few weeks it was difficult to go more than three or four Tweets or status updates without some kind of declaration of resolve.
I’ve also noticed an uptick in comments about the need to “reinventing ourselves” in 2012. I read one blog post that mentioned Oprah and her annual quest to “get right in the New Year what I got wrong this year.” I also recently read a post from someone who has a new book coming out soon about the best ways to “reinvent your personal brand.”
Frankly, the whole idea of “inventing ourselves” just throws me for a loop. While my prediction for 2012 is that (unfortunately) “authenticity” is going to end up on top of the “list of most overused/abused words,” I still think we should focus more on “simply” being who we are instead of “inventing” something new for ourselves? Isn’t “reinventing” ourselves just code for moving from one non-authentic reality to another? It feels to me like the whole idea behind inventing/reinventing is an excuse to avoid our personal truths. At least, that’s what it has meant for me when I’ve experimented with such “reinventions” in the past.
Instead of our fascination with “invention,” maybe we should all change our focus to “permission.” If we give ourselves permission to do the things we really want to do and be the people we really want to be, we might not have to worry about any kind of “invention” because we’ll be exactly who we want/what we want/where we want to be.
Permission is difficult to find and accept, however. It requires us to tune out such powerful (dark) forces like judgment, doubt, fear and more. All of which often negate permission. We move forward with a plan for ourselves, and the first time someone criticizes it, the plan is dead. Authenticity thrives at the intersection of self-truth and permission. Without the permission to act on the truths, there can’t be authenticity. Instead, what’s left is maybe a need to invent something else for ourselves. Something that’s more acceptable to everyone else, but less real to our true selves. Then, we fail and find ourselves reinventing all over again. It’s a vicious cycle.
Nobody’s perfect and, frankly, there’s perfection in that.
If you want to lose weight, figure out your finances and be more grateful for authentic reasons…knock yourself out. But, if you’re doing it because you feel like you’re “supposed to,” or you’re getting pressure to do it from outside influences even though you don’t really want to, your resolutions will fail anyway. If these so-call resolutions aren’t about what YOU want, and what YOU need, you won’t be able to hide behind them for long. In fact, chances are good that the reasons that you’re overweight (in your eyes), in debt or ungrateful are much deeper than you care to admit. And they certainly can’t be overcome simply by the turn of the calendar. (For example, I know EXACTLY why my own weight fluctuates – sometimes dramatically. It’s got everything to do with “permission.”)
The New Year offers a wonderful opportunity to evaluate, think and reacquaint ourselves with our visions and dreams. It’s a natural time to reflect on the past and look toward the future. But, let’s take care not to use this time to beat ourselves up. Oftentimes, it seems like that’s what resolutions are all about – pointing out that we’re too fat, too broke or too ungrateful. There’s little value in that. The holidays are already filled with emotion. Don’t pile on!
Instead, give yourself a break. Use this time wisely. Don’t spend it trying to invent something. Use this fresh start of the calendar to give yourself permission to be…yourself. Nobody can “invent” that, but you.
4 thoughts on “Permission. Not Reinvention.”
Thank you for your insightful article. It speaks of such a simple yet profound truth, one I have struggled with all of my life. In many ways I am someone who has given myself permission to be who I am, although it has been a struggle since childhood. Being a dedicated artist, and having chosen an alternate lifestyle, I definitely suffered from feeling I was not pleasing my family and what they wanted for me. However, this conflicting feeling never stopped me. It just gave me unnecessary anxiety which weighted me down and took some of the pleasure out of my own self actualization. So now I will focus on giving myself the permission to enjoy and honor who I am without all the extra baggage my mind has carried around for all these years.
Thanks for your comments, Nancy. I think artists who have the permission to create and be authentic are among the most personally inspiring people. To be able to create free of judgment, fear and doubt…and showcase that work free of the same…is a gift. Good luck!