Giving You Permission To
June 13, 2018
Let me tell you three lies I’ve been told most of my life:
“You can’t _______ (fill in the blank).”
“You don’t deserve to be a ______ (fill in the blank).
“You’ll never be more than a ______ (fill in the blank).
I absolutely HATE each and every one of these sentences! Nothing pisses me off more than to be marginalized based on another person’s limitations. …but, to my shame, I’ve not only listened to these lies on more than one occasion, I actually adopted them over the years as facts and shared them with others as if they were gospel. Needless to say, I didn’t have a pleasant opinion of myself or life in general. That’s until I made a paradigm shift. About 20 years ago, I decided I wanted to be my friend. But in order to make this change, I needed to give myself permission to learn a different way of thinking.
I started this journey with a self-help group, the introduction to Logotherapy, and a movie called, “The Secret.”
The group was called Discovery. It was a two-day exploration into self. I was skeptical that I could make instant, positive, and lasting changes over a weekend. Gratefully, I was wrong. There were 20 of us and the exercises we participated in made you stop and take inventory. One in particular, made me decide just how important I was to myself. The instructor laid out the scenario: We were on a spaceship that was damaged in a meteor shower. The damage was extensive. There is only one space lifeboat.
It accommodated two people. You are the captain. You have to decide who lives by escaping and who dies. Well, being a person with a martyr complex, I decided on saving a married couple in the group. Feeling quite proud of my decision, I waited on my turn to share just how much of a martyr I was. “Hey,” my inner Tara said. “Yeah,” I asked. “Why don’t you get to go,” she asked. “What do you mean? How selfish does that sound,” I argued. “Are you trying to tell me,” she quipped, “that you have NOTHING to live for?” I thought for a moment. …well yeah, I have two reasons to live. My daughter and my son. She asked, “…and don’t you have unfulfilled dreams?” Of course I did! “…so why don’t you get to go?” she asked again. I shook my head. She was right. I had every right to want to live. It was in that moment, I gave myself permission to go. Go live happily. Go live healthily. Go live abundantly.
When my turn came around, I loudly proclaimed that I got to go. I gave the other seat to a guy in the group for less altruistic reasons (he was cute…yeah, I said it). Little did I know, this would transform him as well. He was so used to people deciding he wasn’t worthy, he became numb to the negative treatment. When I told him he got to go, he broke down in tears. It was as if I gave him permission to live for real. This happened over 18 years ago and I still remember the feeling of empowerment.
My introduction to Logotherapy came from pursuing my master’s degree as a Mental Health Practitioner. My goal was to follow in the footsteps of Viktor Frankel, Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor. His book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” lays out the techniques he used to survive one of the worst atrocities against humanity. He was able to find personal significance in the experience, which gave him the will to live through it. This is a man who lived through three concentration camps. The Nazis used his skills to help new prisoners adapt to their environment (can you imagine that?). Using that knowledge he created “Logotherapy,” defined by the idea that humans are motivated by a “will to meaning” as opposed to the “will to pleasure” and “will to power…” (Ameli & Dattilio, 2013).
The two major lessons I learned from Viktor Frankel are:
To turn life’s challenges to life’s lessons
To be willing and open to get involve and connect with others
These lessons taught me to give myself permission to be open to making mistakes meant to broaden my emotional and academic intellect. To understand everything that happens is meant to strengthen me, not tear me down. To go through so I can grow through.
The first time I watched “The Secret,” I was blown away by the simplicity of the message. That message is what you think, you attract. …so my thoughts create my reality? Could it be that simple? Think you are horrible, you’re right. Think you are fabulous, you’re right. A simple message with powerful results. “The law of attraction is the attractive, magnetic power of the Universe that draws similar energies together. It manifests through the power of creation, everywhere and in multiple ways. Even the law of gravity is part of the law of attraction. This law attracts thoughts, ideas, people, situations and circumstances. –www.successconsciousness.com” This lesson gives me permission to explore the world of positivity. To leave the negative. To embrace me right where I’m at. It is a journey worth taking.
Are you ready?