Since I’ve been offering programs, I’ve been hearing a lot about the concept of “permission”.
Some artists who said yes to a retreat day shared that this was a much-needed structure to enable and empower them to FINALLY give themselves permission to take time for their creative work. Others just couldn’t say yes, just couldn’t give themselves permission.
What does it mean to have permission to do something? My thesaurus tells me that other words related to permission are: consent, sanctioning and authorization.
Consent signifies agreement, validation that what you’re doing meets with specific expectations, criteria and guidelines. It sounds solemn and like someone has faith in you. Sanction is an even more formal declaration of acceptance and faith.
Authorized to Create
Authorization – well, that implies that you’re something special. That not just anyone is meant to be painting this painting, writing this song or designing that jewelry. You have been specially authorized to do it.
And why? Because you have the unique gifts that are necessary to bring that creative project into being. Who authorized you? The same power that granted you those gifts and skills – whether you choose to think of that as God, the universe, Spirit, or another name. As we read in the Science of Getting Rich [link], we’re not given the desire to do something without also giving you the skill to carry it out.
Why is it so difficult to authorize ourselves, grant ourselves permission and consent, to sanction our own creative work? Sometimes we seek this permission from others, unconsciously (or consciously) hoping they’ll deny it, so we won’t really have to venture into the scary world of living up to our potential.
A lot of these words symbolize that external permission is needed. And sometimes it is.
Permission from Others
Whether you want to attend an artist retreat day, meet a deadline or just develop a new idea that came to you overnight, you’ll sometimes need permission from the people you share your life with to take the time for your creative work.
It might mean delegating household work or child-care or rescheduling a date or planned event. All of you might also need a willingness to be flexible and to accept that sometimes things don’t get done right away. It also means ensuring an environment of support for your work.
Will others give you permission? Of course you can’t control what anyone else thinks, says or does, but consider this: our loved ones will take cues from us about how serious our creative work is to us. If we’re constantly putting it on the back burner, putting our work down, and letting it be the first thing to go when things get stressful or busy, we’re teaching others to treat it the same way.
If we don’t take our creative work seriously, why should they?
Permission from Self – Artist at Work
I think what’s even more important is the permission we give ourselves. There are so many reasons we deny ourselves permission to pursue our creative work. Fear tops the list. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of what people will think of us, fear of being good, fear of being terrible, or fear we’ll let someone else down, to name a few examples.
Sometimes we hold on to earlier instances when we were denied permission, denied access, not sanctioned or authorized, or when our work was criticized or belittled. Some of us have even been told, directly, NOT to pursue our creative work (“don’t give up your day job”, “find another path”, “you have no business doing this work”), which hung a big UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS sign on the door of our creative hearts.
So hang a new sign on your creative heart – one that reads “Artist at work”. And in fine print, “This work has been sanctioned by _______” (the name of your source of Power).
10 Signs That You’ve Given Yourself Permission To Be A Creative Artist
1. The first words out of your mouth when someone asks “and what do you do?” are “I’m a songwriter/artist/sculptor/writer, etc.”.
2. You work steadily at your craft, whether it’s working on or re-working pieces or promoting your work.
3. You teach your loved ones to treat your art seriously.
4. The materials and resources that you need to create with are part of your budget and are planned expenses every month.
5. You’re committed to your learning, growth and development, participating in artists groups and discussion forums and seeking out mentorship and coaching.
6. You don’t let mistakes or criticism stop you from taking your next steps.
7. You’re building the resources you need to support yourself financially, emotionally and spiritually.
8. You’re conscious of your physical lifestyle habits and choose the ones that won’t interfere with your creative work.
9. You find opportunities to pass on your knowledge and support wherever possible, to someone who’s had less experience than you have.
10. You consistently say no to requests for your time, energy and commitment that will take you away from your creative work.