Permission to be Human and Self-Compassion


Even bad days have moments of brightness.

There are those days when I seem to wake up on the ‘wrong side of the bed.’ (My mother seemed to love that phrase, did your mother?) On these days, I find myself feeling uninspired, worried, not my most positive self, and simply down in the dumps. On these days, a concept that helps me through and back on track to my optimistic and positive nature, is giving myself permission to be human.

Permission to Be Human is a concept that I learned from Tal Ben Shahar in the Certificate in Positive Psychology training I took several years ago. It has been a guiding concept when I am not at my best for whatever reason. Yes, I am as human as everyone and remembering that with a Permission slip is something I use often (and also teach in all of my workshops).

This is one of the most useful ways I know to find my way to accepting being down or off my center. Without my permission slip, I can easily spiral downward visiting judgement, negativity, lack of inspiration, and, most importantly, self-judgement for wanting life to be different. Let’s face it life happens, events present themselves, and conversations unfold that can be challenging to rise above.

These last two weeks for me have been filled with frustration over a gnawing pain that has taken much effort to heal. Because the pain has been quite consuming, I have been off of my center. I find that I am more easily pulled into weariness, concerns over world current events (the negative kind), and return home from work ready to call it a day when there is still much to do.

Once I have taken the time to give myself Permission to be Human and begin to embrace whatever is pulling me into grumpiness, I can then begin the journey back to an upward spiral of healing and positivity. My personal journey has been focusing on self-care to relieve this nagging pain (oh, how I love massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic). As I continue feeling frustrated that it is taking longer than usual and rest seems to be most needed, I move onto letting go of my resistance to my feelings around my pain. Resistance is indeed futile!

Once I’ve given myself permission to be with what has my attention and letting go of my resistance, I can then move on to learning, being mindful, and listening to my body, my emotions, or my mental state. One of the ways I approach my frustrations is to consider asking different questions — questions that I would ask any of my coaching clients, acupuncture clients, or students — positive questions that lead me forward and upward.

Here are some of the questions I’ve asked: I pause and ask myself what do I need right now? How can I find a way to enjoy this time of pain? Is there anything I can I learn from this? What benefits can I notice right now?

The answers are readily there — I need my Permission to Be Human with my pain, frustration, lack of creative inspiration, and taking a ride on the downward spiral. This pain has forced me to take a rest from my beloved long hikes in the woods and trading them for shorter walks from home and gentle stretching on my mat. By taking the time to rest, I have the time to happily indulge myself in watching the Olympics (I can even imagine my own body moving with the athletes so I, too, benefit from their goals of personal best. I am certain that I benefit from the visualization and watching!).

I can also use this time to practice self-compassion — extending kindness toward myself. What a freeing and wonderful concept — extending compassion toward myself through kindness! I get to practice on myself what I do every day in my work with others. An added benefit is that I can then extend even more compassion toward those who come to me for their own healing from pain, imbalance, or disharmony with a greater understanding of their frustration, fears, and anxieties.

For now, I feel more in balance by taking the time to write out my process. I hope you will find this helpful the next time you are off your center or have gotten up ‘on the wrong side of the bed!’

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