Apr 13 2021
Recently a friend shared with me a question she is contemplating.
“What does it actually mean to ‘step into my power’?
This is a phrase that many of us have heard almost ad nauseum. It’s a catch-all phrase for so much self-improvement-based spiritual work.
Frankly, it’s a phrase that I find irritating because
- It’s so broad and imprecise. Which domain of power are we talking about here… spiritual, financial, athletic, social, erotic, political, emotional?
- It’s spoken of as a de facto virtue, and could easily read as a spiritual bypass for more difficult, messy work. What if this banner of “stepping into my own power” is simply a righteous sounding justification for unkind behavior?
- This phrase leaves out the establishment of consent within oneself. What if I don’t want to actually have power in this situation? What if the “leader” in me wants a day off? What if all the parts of me don’t even agree that this is a good idea?
So let’s get precise about some useful concepts and practices for addressing this question.
Our sense of self-empowerment is unconsciously limited by the scope of the permission field* that we give ourselves.
Have you ever had a friend who lives their life in such a way that you hear about something that they are doing and you think to yourself “Wait, so you can just DO that?” Or you admire the person’s ability to handle their own impulse and desires in a way that you wish you felt free to do? And it feels sooo good to be around that person, right? You are sensing that they have a deeper and wider permission field in that particular domain of life, and you want that for yourself as well.
This is a huge part of what is offered in group work (and also in coaching sessions). As facilitators, we create a deep and rich permission field in which we welcome the full range of emotions, as well as behaviors and aspects of ourselves that we would not feel comfortable embodying elsewhere. Group work is an invaluable tool for accessing new realms within the psyche. Gardeners start some seeds in the greenhouse because they won’t survive in the outside conditions right away, and it’s the same principle with new behaviors and tender aspects of ourselves. Facilitated group work is like a greenhouse for nourishing these areas of inner growth. And giving ourselves permission is the way the seed gets planted and the process gets started.
You can expand your own permission field each and every day. What is an area of your life where you would like to experience more permission? With this paragraph, I hereby remind you that you have the power to give that permission TO YOURSELF. Breathe into that. Consider finding a small step that you can take today to acknowledge the acceptance of this permission in your own system. Maybe it’s saying, “no” to responding to an email or phone call. Maybe it’s saying, “yes” to an invitation that delights you.
No matter who we are or how much personal growth work we have done, there are always moments when a deeper sense of self-administered permission can transform our perceptions and bring more ease to our lives.
* “Permission field” is a phrase that I first heard from one of my mentors, Om Rupani, at the Tantra meets BDSM workshop that he teaches with Laurie Handlers.