The Power of Permission
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
The other day, one of my daughters (aka Little A) had a dilemma. I've given her a chocolate pastry which she thoroughly enjoyed - but now she wanted a drink of water.
Little A: "I don't want to make the chocolatey taste go away!"
Me: "Hmm. What do you think you should do?" (Annoying mom, I know.)
Little A (thinks for a moment): "You know what? I CAN take a drink! Because I know I can have that treat again another time!"
I share this moment with you because it so perfectly captures the power of permission.
This is the freedom that comes from not blacklisting any foods. When you eat guiltily, knowing that the restriction starts tomorrow, that you can't "have that treat again another time", you don't want to make the taste go away. You might eat far more than you actually need - or even enjoy. When the food is just food, maybe especially enjoyable but still just food, with no guilt-laden strings attached, you can stop when you feel satisfied, or drink when you feel thirsty, because you know you will give yourself permission to have it again another time.
Giving yourself permission around food can be very, very hard. It is also very, very worthwhile. By giving up your food rules, you allow yourself the opportunity to listen out for what you truly want and you are far less likely to overdo it than if you continue to try and restrict. It sounds counter-intuitive, but those are the facts. My clients describe moments they would have never believed possible, such as walking into a bakery without feeling like every donut was calling their name, leaving over food on their plates at restaurants when they felt comfortably satisfied, and enjoying a bedtime snack without feeling compelled to scavenge all evening.
There is comfort in the familiar, and it can be hard to give that up. Sometimes it's easier to stick with the devil you know - especially when that devil seems to hold the key to your dreams.
"THIS time it'll work! This time I'll follow the rules and be successful."
But are you starting to feel like that line is getting stale? Are you ready to have a fresh conversation?
Try saying this:
"You know, I CAN have that treat. I can have it today. And I can even have that treat again another time."
How did that feel?
Liberating? Scary? Totally foreign?
This can be really tricky stuff. But I encourage you to give yourself the opportunity to experience food like a 4-year-old. Do you remember what eating was like when you were a child? Before diet culture poisoned it for you?
I encourage you to experience the power of permission. You might be scared, and you might have some bumps along the way. But I don't think you'll ever look back.