Why Is “Allowing” So Dang Hard but So Dang Important?

I’ve never been one to declare New Year’s resolutions or make lists of quarterly objectives. As an artist, I like to keep things fluid so I can embrace opportunities as they arise. Plus, my definitions of “success” have little to do with quantitative results.

I’ve tried doing vision boards but could never understand why I needed a visual to spur me on when the pictures in my head are plenty vivid. I make lists only when I have to. So, you can imagine I felt a bit of trepidation when one of the women’s groups I belong to decided to have every member choose a “word of the year.” My friend sent me a worksheet to help me land on my word, and I grudgingly filled it out. Now, I’m glad I did.

I thought the word I wanted was “service,” a nice action-oriented word for my activator self. But the word that resonated was “allow.” I tried to hold to the word “service,” feeling more comfortable in a space where I could be the driver, but the word “allow” proved pretty assertive, which is funny. I mean, it practically insisted I choose it.

I started making a list of things I needed to allow in my life and came up with this:

–Allow my intuition to guide me

–Allow space for my emotions

–Allow the people in my life to be where they need to be

–Allow my creativity to express itself without interference from my inner critic

–Allow myself brief sojourns into my past and future, but stay mostly in the present

–Allow myself to trust that everything will work out

Since I made that list several days ago, I’ve thought of more things I need to add. It’s amazing how big that word really is and how many things it can encompass. “Allow” seemed to me a passive verb when it first occurred to me, but now I see it’s a very active verb. In order to allow my intuition to guide me, I need to make time for meditation and actually do it. In order to allow space for my emotions, I need to seek out safe places where I can let those emotions out. In order to allow the people in my life to be where they need to be, I need to instigate conversations free from judgement where I can learn what they need and how best to serve them.

But how do you approach something as layered as trusting everything will work out? In order to achieve that trust, you have to let go of past hurts and current problems and future fears. That’s a pretty tall order. And you can’t force trust, you have to accept it, which means letting your guard down, which is not something our culture teaches us to embrace.

Allowing, though, is not active in the same way, say, running is. Oftentimes it means getting still and quiet, taking deep breaths, and reconnecting to our Higher Selves. While I see the value in these things and try to do them, it’s often tempting to do the outer work to avoid doing the inner work. I can easily convince myself it’s better to “put the work in” by spending time updating the wording on my website regarding some service I offer in the hopes of making it feel more in sync with my energy, when really all I’m doing is avoiding going deep to ask if I still even want to offer that service.

I chose a “word for the year” a few years ago, and by the third week of January I’d already forgotten what it was. Not so this year. The word “allow” seems to be constantly on my mind. As our outer world struggles through a global pandemic, social and political unrest, failing economies, etc., the last thing I want to do is “allow” suffering to continue. I’m taking plenty of active steps to try to do my part to help our hurting world. But I’m understanding that in order to be my usual active self, I need to allow myself time and energy to learn more, connect more, and feel more.

What will you “allow” this year in order to arrive at your own creative solutions?

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