With all the life spring cleaning I've been doing lately, I've been paying close attention to things that cause me a lot of anxiety...and also noticing some patterns emerge. In particular, surrounding permission.
I've only had three sessions with my nutritionist so far, and one of the things I'm working on is giving myself permission before every meal to a) eat, and b) eat as much as I want. There are a variety of reasons for this, but they all come back to learning to become a competent eater.
But this permission concept has been popping up a lot lately for me--enough so that I've taken notice and really thought about it. A few months ago I was upset about some plans going awry, and in complaining to a friend about why it had me freaking out so badly, I explained certain issues and then said, "And now I'm going to have to explain to all these people why I won't fly." And she said simply, "No, you don't. That's no one's business but yours. You say you don't want to fly; that's all they need to know."
Similarly, a few months ago I made the choice to no longer participate in something, and I was stressing about having to explain the plethora of reasons for my decision (some of which weren't going to win me popularity points). Same friend reminded me that no, I didn't have to. Saying "no" is enough.
Intellectually, I know these things. I know I have choice. I know I have options. I know obligations are a pressure I put on myself and I *can* say no.
So why is it so difficult sometimes?
You know, I'm not sure. But I do know that right now, I need to give myself permission for things. To eat the foods I want to eat and--equally important--not eat the foods I don't want to eat. (I'm a notoriously picky eater and it causes me a lot of anxiety to feel pressured to eat things outside of my comfort zones.) Permission not justify or explain myself to people when it isn't actually important for them to know something that's only relevant to me.
And I'm carrying it into writing as well. I've written next to nothing since February and I was beating myself up about it. I wanted X done in a month, Y well underway, Z chapters written and posted for readers. But being under that pressure wasn't helping me--it was sucking the joy out of everything I was doing.
So I have permission to never publish another word if I don't want to. I have permission to take as much time as I need to recharge my batteries. I'm not obligated to share my work with friends who don't enjoy or appreciate it. And while I don't like that CotA readers have no new chapter on the horizons for yet another month, feeling bad about it wasn't getting those chapters written either, so I have permission to relax and take a break.
In short, I have permission to be happy, and if I'm not, I can actively make choices that *will* make me happy. Sometimes taking the pressure off myself opens things up (in fact, once I tell myself I don't have to eat something I don't want to eat, I'm more willing to try it). Sometimes not. But here's me having the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
And serenity is nice for a change.