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Its Not Safe

Getting real…

This is what it looks like to not give yourself permission. I share this experience because each of us experiences the part of us whose job it is to keep us “safe.” Over the last couple weeks I’ve found myself stuck in fear. I’ve started to get a fair amount of visibility from my Permission to Thrive Tour and have been working on the next class I’m going to teach. But I found myself wasting time, procrastinating and pushing out the start date. I mean, really, how many seasons of “Weeds” do I need to watch on Netflix to realize I’m distracting myself? I’m finally at the point in my life where I see that as a sign and know that I need to do something about it.

I decided to do an expressive arts session for myself. Thanks to my wife, who is trained as an expressive arts practitioner, I’ve learned this through osmosis. I put on some music and did a series of drawings over an hour or so. The series below is what came out:


The one on the left is what it feels like as my creativity and authenticity (new and exciting thoughts, actions and activities) are wanting to be expressed. That black line/half circle is what keeps that energy in. It is a very old and familiar experience. I called it “The soldier falling on the grenade.”

The middle picture is of that soldier in conversation with me. I call him the “Grizzled Vet.” He’s tired and ragged. He’s smoking a cigarette as we talk. He says that for as long as he can remember he’s been on the front lines keeping me safe. He’s been stopping that energy from escaping. When I ask him why. He just says, “It’s not safe.” I asked him what he wants for himself? “I want to retire to a Hawaiian Island. I’ve been fighting long enough.” So I dismiss him. But he won’t leave. He says “I can’t desert my post.” He is worried for me. So we ask for a replacement.

The picture on the right is the Sentinel. He says he will take the post. He can see beyond the horizon both within and without. He will protect me but also support me in a new way to allow my vital energy to flow more freely. I see the sentinel as a more mature permission granter than the Grizzled Vet. The Grizzled Vet could only say, “No.” He didn’t have much leeway in his role. The Sentinel is much more mature, has greater perspective and sees the need for the energy (my voice, my thoughts, my actions, my desires, my power) to flow. The Sentinel knows I’m always safe. I’m back on track, developing my course and launching it very soon.

We all have some version of the Grizzled Vet, a part of us that keeps us safe, that is based on old programming and old fears. A part of us that has outlived its usefulness that, in fact, now harms us and keeps us from being who we want to be.

Here’s a process to experiment with to work with the part that doesn’t give you permission to thrive:

Step 1: Notice you are stuck.
Step 2: Look closely and identify the part of you that keeps you safe and give it a name. Allow yourself to realize how it is not keeping you safe but actually causing you harm.
Step 3: Look for a new resource to take its place and give it a name.
Step 4: Experiment and take action with this new resource in place and see what happens.

I’d love to hear your what your experience!