Permission to Fail


If you are Houstonian then you may know Brené Brown and her work on shame. This Sunday she will be featured on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday program to share with the world about her journey through perfectionism. Brene is a witty, brilliant, and warm social worker that invites us to look at ourselves in new and inspiring ways. I was intrigued this morning as I read about her practice of writing herself “permission notes.” She writes herself notes in new, stressful, or challenging situations that allow her to be present to whatever emotion or feeling is going on inside of her at the current time. From what I can tell, this practice allows her to move through her emotions, allowing “grace” to flow and carry her into a space of openness and authenticity.

My permission note this week goes something like this: “I give myself permission to fail.” I need a really, really big sticky note people. In fact, I probably need a hundred of those stupid sticky notes put up all over my house. Here is the cold, naked truth. I want to be some majestic creature from a storybook that simply does not exist. I want to have three more degrees than I do, I want to be fluent in multiple languages (including original Biblical ones), I want to understand the intricate politics of the Middle East better than those who grew up in its war-torn lands, I want to be able to make perfectly rising pie meringue, I want to be spiritually wise, and I want to do all of this while being in the perfect relationship, maintaining the perfect body weight and having a spotless house. What? Do I expect too much from myself?

I think the answer might just be yes. In fact, I know it is yes, and I know this because more often that I would like to admit I end up curled up in my bed pulling the covers over my head wishing I could stay there instead of getting up to face the world. Those are the good days of denial. Failure, well failure has a whole other face. Failure looks like me crumpled in my closet in the fetal position, tear stained face waiting for the world the stop spinning because I am just not sure how my blog will get written, when the stack of mail will get sorted, how to actually accomplish world peace, or when, dear God, I might have energy to consider raising a child. Weeping in my closet, that’s what failure looks like for me.

So it has been two weeks since my last blog post and I’ve been beating myself up about it. The voices in my head have been shouting, “You have to be consistent. You have to be reliable.” Stupid voices. No, sometimes I have to give myself permission to fail. I have to realize I cannot be the mythical creature that can do everything I want in the exact time that I want to do it. Today my grace came in the form of Brene Brown and her permission slips; that is where my resurrection moment came. Very often, resurrection for me comes in the form of my amazing boyfriend who pulls me out of my closet. He actually does have mythical powers. So, what do you need to give yourself permission for today? Maybe you are struggling with a friendship right now. Maybe like me, you have four different sizes of clothes in your closet and today you have to give yourself permission to love yourself while wearing the biggest one right now. Maybe you have hurt someone deeply and need to give yourself permission to forgive yourself today. I encourage you to give yourself permission today for what you need, and if you need to fail…well, you are in good company!


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