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How Radical Permission Unlocks Our Ability to Authentically Express Ourselves & Be Heard

Updated: May 19, 2021

As I contemplate radical permission I can’t help but reflect on the last few weeks. I’ve been deep in preparations for the Embodied Voice program which includes a wave of marketing materials. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever had to write your own marketing, but for me it’s always an interesting & vulnerable dance.

This time around I’ve been fortunate to have the support of a woman named Joanne. She has listened to my stories, learned about my audience, & written some of my copy. I really value her work and…

To have my work & my experiences laid out in front of me brought up some uncomfortable shit. As I read her words a part of me felt she captured it so well, while another part, a very scared part, began to go off into old uncomfortable voices. “Why would you put this out there?” “You are being selfish & arrogant!” “You’re a spoiled little brat!” “How dare you share this?”

Basically, Who the hell am I to be sharing this work & these experiences?

Ever felt this? It sucks. It really really sucks.

My instinctive impulse was self protection. Push it down, get away from it, or try to mediate it with some cognitive reason why there’s nothing wrong with what I’m doing.

But… this never works for me. Fighting it just makes those voices either get louder, meaner, or come out in some unconscious passive aggressive way. Fortunately, there is something that usually works, something that has become a daily practice.

Radical Permission.

So, instead of fighting it, I gave myself permission.

~ Permission to hear the scary voices.

~ Permission to feel afraid.

~ Permission to have terror.

~ Even permission for that part of me that was resisting permission.

All of it.

This permission allowed me to slow down & acknowledge that there was a very real uncertainty & even terror that was coming up. In recognizing this terror I decided I wanted some support to process it & reached out to a somatic therapist I work with.

With this support I was able to better understand the reaction I was having. I touched on this little girls inside of me who was simply afraid.

~ Terrified of getting in trouble.

~ Afraid of doing it wrong.

~ Afraid of being rejected or outcast.

~ Desperately wanting to belong.

By giving myself permission to hear her I was able to meet myself with more honesty & less judgement.

~ I slightly changed the marketing so they felt more authentic & consistent with my comfort.

~ I sat with & honoured the fear of this little one, allowing me to find a tenderness there.

~ I asked for help, to process, to share.

This permission exists even now as I write. Permission to feel both my excitement in the excitement program & the nervousness. Radical permission to feel it all.

Why Radical Permission?

Radical permission is about allowing ourselves to start where we are. It’s like zooming in on google maps to get a get clear picture on our initial location. With this personal understanding we can meet ourselves & choose in accordance to our current (not made up) reality.

I find that the greatest challenges most of us have in expression is trying to be somewhere we aren't. For example you might think you should be able to stand up to your boss & then feel extra angry yourself when you freeze up & your mind goes blank. Or maybe you want to sing but you get so embarrassed at the sound of your voice that you just give it all up.

The reality is that our challenges with self expression is usually two-fold.

  1. First, there is the initial problem ~ perhaps our throat becomes tight, our mind goes blank, or we find that we are becoming overly emotional or triggered. This is a human response & likely just an activation of our nervous system.

  2. The second challenge is that we then judge or berate ourselves for having this experience. Often this secondary reaction is bigger more problematic then the initial challenge ~ causing us to amplify our unease by trying to dismiss or desperately fix what's happening.

Radical permission is like a gateway back to ourself. It allows us to witness our responses & to give our nervous system the space & support it needs. By giving ourselves permission to freeze, get nervous, sound terrible, feel insecure, or feel resistant we can alleviate the extra charge our expectations put on the situation. This might even include being aware of & giving permission to ourselves for having a strong sense of desperation or agenda. The point is really about admitting & allowing where you are. What is more authentic in expression than that?

Authentic Expression & Being Heard.

Somewhere in the marketing of authenticity the idea of authentic expression has become synonymous with fluid, easy, & open. The reality is quite different. Everyone goes through periods of nervousness or uncertainty. It's how we choose to meet these moments that can move us towards either growth & understanding or keep us spinning in a cycle of fighting ourselves.

We all have patterns of expression ~ people pleasing, being 'good', not rocking the boat, or even over-dramatizing for attention. These patterns are not bad ~ simply strategies we developed to adapt in our world. When we fight them (Oh my God why do I do that?!") we miss an opportunity to learn from them ~ to notice the sensation or the situation that triggered the behaviour, how it happened, where we felt it & so on. If however we give ourselves permission to be in those well worn grooves & get curious we create space for self understanding ~ for noticing the nuances, for learning our system, for eventually recognizing & even negotiating our needs. Here we discover what our truth is, what our patterns are, & as such become more equipped to communicate more honestly & authentically.

In the story I shared above permission meant allowing myself to recognize & seek out support but it doesn't necessarily look like that. Permission may mean forgiving yourself for letting the kids double their screen time over covid - because you really did need a a break in the day for your sanity, or it might mean permission to keep pushing through a deadline because the work you are doing is important to you. The point in permission is that it allows for honest self recognition & choice. It's not just an apathetic response but an engaged response with ourself. And the cool thing is that sometimes when we finally give ourselves permission to do the thing we 'shouldn't do' our desire to do it fades on it's own.

What Does Radical Permission Look Like For You

To close I wonder what it might be like if you gave yourself this presence & permission. You can do it right here & right now.

Notice what's alive for you?

What feels good?

What are you perhaps avoiding or wishing was different?

Now what if you gave yourself permission for all of it.

~ Permission to feel tired/ anxious/happy/sad.

~ Permission to be scattered/ foggy/ clear.

~ Permission to feel upset about that thing you're spinning on.

~ Permission to overthink or judge.

~ Permission to be human.

Give it time. Give it space.

And as that permission settles you might see a way of meeting yourself & supporting yourself that wasn't there before.

About the Author

Amy Thiessen is an international teacher, coach, & musician who focuses on helping individuals connect to their confidence, purpose, & self esteem through voice & communication. Offering a holistic approach Amy helps individuals uncover & overcome their unique blocks around voice & communication, connect to their self esteem & purpose, & ultimately express themselves in a way that is empowered & impactful.

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1 Comment

John Abraham
John Abraham
Dec 18, 2023

The idea of granting permission to ourselves to experience the full spectrum of emotions is liberating. It is a beautiful way to honor our journey and meet ourselves with compassion.

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