For many years I was a private art teacher; I started at the age of 15 as a teacher’s assistant in my mother’s studios (she had 3 going at one point in different towns), but it was only later when I became a single mom that the interesting added component of incorporating life coaching or art therapy came into play in my interactions with my students.
The art class became the vehicle for discussions to open up, and the conversations took some interesting turns. Many of the people who attended my classes coincidentally were in difficult relationships, and had decided to take art classes as a way of bringing some joy into their lives.
Even though they had made the decision to do something they had wanted to do for years, and took the necessary action of signing up for a class, I noticed that I needed to give most of my adult students permission, either overtly or subtly, to become what they wanted to be, and to learn what they wished to learn.
I’d never thought of it before so deeply, how we all seek approval from others before we will start an activity or something new in our lives, yet how many of us feel we CAN’T do something, and so WON’T?
When we say we can’t do something, we do know on a conscious level that unless we take classes or find some way to learn, then we won’t have the necessary skills to do it. We can’t possibly know in advance if we truly have talent or not, without ever having tried it. It’s much like deciding we don’t like the taste of a new food before having eaten it.
I’ve come to see that even if other people don’t see the merit in something, whatever their reasons, that if we with to do something new, all it takes is giving ourselves the PERMISSION to do so.
This was a key issue in my own life and was instrumental in my being able to do many things in my life which I’m now proud of, but for which I had received a lot of negative feedback from individuals.
An excerpted portion of “On Becoming a Lemonade Maker“:
Giving Ourselves Permission to Follow our Joy
So it comes down to giving us permission to follow our joy. If we are the “first in the family” to become an artist, a magician, a writer, a dancer or even to go back to school, maybe the truth is we are the FIRST to GIVE OURSELVES PERMISSION to do so.
Maybe we did inherit our talents from family members, yet if not one of them had ever had permission, or had given themselves permission, then the seed that lay within was never developed to maturity.
Many seeds get crushed under cold, callous heels, and many a spirit has been broken because of this.
If people criticize what we do because it may not be good enough, do we stop doing it because we may be the only ones to appreciate it? Do we need their permission to do it, and if they disapprove, do we stop doing it? These are all good questions to ask ourselves.
Additionally, it may not be the finished product that brings us pleasure, but it may be the PROCESS we enjoy!
I’ve met many people doing what brings them joy, even if no one else appreciates the end result. They are some of the happiest souls, because they are expressing themselves through their chosen outlet, regardless of what other people may say.
Do people give them a hard time for continuing to do something that doesn’t seem to produce results other people appreciate? Yes some do, but I see a grudging respect as well. Are they affected by what others say? Sometimes, but they seem to have developed an inner ability to brush it off, because they have come to realize that the pleasure they get from their activity is far greater, and well worth putting up with some teasing.
We can give ourselves permission to be ourselves and follow our joy. Only then do we become better at being ourselves.
When I talk about following your joy, of living your soul’s path, I am not referring to or advocating things like stalking someone, child porn, committing adultery, or anything hurtful or destructive to another person.
Those would be things I would put under the negative or toxic heading, for even though you may get a good or even a great feeling from it, the activities themselves create victims and cause lifelong damage on many levels. There are just some things that are negative, and if we give ourselves permission to pursue them, this leads others and us to the darker side of life.
However, if your outlet is to sing, but everyone begs you not to, maybe a simple solution is to find a place where you can find vocal release without making enemies!
The following of joy, I believe should be in the positive things. For when we are on a positive, healthy path we find peace.
By doing the things that lead us to our soul’s path, even in small increments daily or weekly, we are actively working to boost our sanity levels.
This is an ongoing, lifelong process!
The Dangers of NOT Giving Ourselves Permission
If we aren’t giving ourselves permission to follow our soul’s path, we will be very unhappy. We try to bury our unhappiness, telling ourselves, “I am grateful. I have a job. I have a family. I have a roof over my head and food on the table.” This is called survival, which is very important to do at various times in our lives, but our spirit cries out for more, which is where our dissatisfaction with our present lives can creep in.
If we aren’t following our soul’s path and expressing on the outside who we are inside our spirit, then we slowly waste away inside. Our soul knows it, so depression comes, maybe along with the drinking, the drugging, fits of anger, etc.
It is a very fine thing in life to be a wife, or a husband or a mother or a father, or a son or a daughter, well I think you get the idea! The hustle and bustle of every day life, of getting food on the table, doing laundry, going to work or school, etc. is very important, even noble, but it still doesn’t replace an outlet to express the inner workings of the soul!
The inner poet, artist, musician, dancer, builder, sculptor, pastry cook, welder etc needs to be expressed in a real and tangible way; it needs to be respected as an integral part of who we are, not so much as a choice, but rather as a NECESSITY. The inner soul craves to find an outlet to become a real part of our lives, and the torment and anguish it gives us if we deny its existence or shove it down inside, can lead to first dissatisfaction, then disillusionment with life, and further to anger, resentment and bitterness.
It takes courage to stand up to any criticism we get whether external from other people, or internal from self doubt or self criticism. Getting beyond these external or internal influences is an important step to self discovery and self actualization! It is a crucial step to move beyond, to defuse and to limit its negative power over us.
Only WE have the inner power to do this, for unless we do it, we can wait a few lifetimes for someone to take us by the hand and gently lead us into this new and uncharted territory! Though we may at present feel powerless or incapable of doing so, it is still our power to take, and vitally important for us to do so!
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So, if you’ve been needing someone to give you permission to start an activity or a hobby you’ve long dreamed of doing, consider this your permission slip to do so!
Enjoy your journey!
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