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Give Yourself Permission

How many times a day do you think or say “I should…” or “I shouldn’t…”? How many times a day do you deny yourself things you’d like, or force yourself to do things you’d rather not? When did you last really listen to yourself and put your needs first?

I was co-hosting a retreat recently that focussed on women, water and wellness. It is called SUP&Souland is a day of Stand Up Paddleboarding for beginners or experienced SUPers, life coaching and wild swimming. We invited the participants to bring a sense of play, a sense of reflection and curiosity, and they did. Some of them talked about how they had struggled to give themselves permission to come: permission to have time off from their parenting responsibilities, to spend the money on themselves, or to let themselves take a risk, try something new and meet new people. They worried about whether they would fit in, whether they’d be able to paddle board, whether they would fall off and look a fool. But those who came, gave themselves permission and got so much more from it. They said the day exceeded their expectations, in so many ways. Some said they felt healed, some said they had stopped and listened to themselves for the first time in a long time. Some said they had felt joy and felt held in a way they hadn’t before.

But there are ways out. Being aware of the traps is the first step. Catching yourself thinking about “should and shouldn’t“s is vital. If you tune in to what your body wants and needs, you will feel better for it. Eating intuitively takes practice, but can help your body stabilize. Once it knows that no food is restricted, it doesn’t demand it so often, and then want to binge on it as it doesn’t know when it will be allowed it again. When you listen to how your body feels it wants to move, rather than forcing it through a hardcore workout, it will thank you. We might enjoy the endorphin hit at the end but sometimes it doesn’t serve us in the long run. Today your body might need a gentle walk round the block but next time it might need to sweat and pant. When it becomes a “should”, it’s less enjoyable, we are less likely to stick to it in the long run, and it doesn’t bring us joy. “Oh but it is good for our health” they say. Which health is that? How good is it for our mental health when we force ourselves to do things, and use exercise as a pay-off for what we have eaten or intend to eat? It is a slippery slope to disordered thinking, but when we know, and we notice, we can change it.

I am not advocating spending the rest of our lives on the sofa watching Netflix and eating ice cream straight out of the tub. But I am saying it’s ok to do that sometimes too. I’m saying that with “should”and “shouldn’t” comes guilt and shame. When we feel we should do something, then don’t (such as a workout), or feel we shouldn’t do something then do (such as eating something we deem as “naughty”), it often sends us into a spiral of shame which often causes us to emotionally eat, leaves us even less motivated to move, then we beat ourselves up further for that and down the rabbit hole we go.

Brené Brown speaks about shame being such a destructive emotion because, in contrast to guilt which is about feeling bad for something we have done, shame tells us we are a bad person. We think we are helpless, weak and have no willpower for not forcing ourselves to the gym or for eating some chips, we think we don’t deserve the life that we think being thinner will bring us, so we may as well just give up and give in. We have cheated on our diet anyway so we may as well do everything we weren’t allowed to do, eat all the food we’ve been restricting, drink all the wine, and maybe start again tomorrow. Or not.

But imagine if we stopped giving ourselves such a hard time. Imagine if we gave ourselves permission to skip a workout. Imagine giving ourselves permission to eat whatever we wanted. And to feel our emotions and do what we needed to soothe ourselves. We might put one foot down that rabbit hole and stop before we get sucked in.

What if we took all the guilt and shame away and were just kinder to ourselves? What if we gave ourselves permission to do something a little out of our comfort zone, try something we’d not tried before even thought we might be no good at it, and gave ourselves permission not to get it right first time? Imagine what could happen. The possibilities are endless.

Working with me can help you find that self-compassion and be kinder to yourself and your body. Women I have worked with have transformed how they feel about their body which has unlocked their potential in all areas of their lives. And, as a Blue Health Coach, I bring natural water into my work wherever possible, whether that means coaching by the sea or using watery meditation and metaphor intoour work to enhance the impact of the coaching.

Claudine Nightingill-Rane

Seascape Blue

Life Coaching Without Limits

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