Permission-Based Healing

Permission-Based Healing is about learning the Gentle Art of Self-Kindness: it’s the process of giving up the fight without giving up your hope, your love, your life.

You could call this acceptance. You could call this surrender.
But you don’t have to*. The words, the name, are not the point. As long as you let yourself feel what is true for you, you are on your way up and out.

It means meeting yourself where you are.
It means allowing yourself to hate where you are.
It means allowing yourself to hate yourself while hoping to love yourself someday, as scary and impossible as this may sound.
It means being imperfect. Being content with being Very Good Enough, and sometimes no good at all.
Permission-Based Healing is about bringing ease to what is when what is hurts.
It’s about learning from pain. And more than anything else: it’s about learning how to be kind to yourself when you are in pain.

Permission-Based Healing means becoming a peaceful warrior, who is less like a solider and more like a scientist, a student, a detective.
It’s about laying down weapons and picking up the shield and turning on the force-field. It’s about moving away from the battlefield and into the LOVEratory.

It means no bombs, no guns, and keeping sharp edges to a minimum.
Swings are important, and playgrounds, and sand. And being a body of water — tears, sweat, milk, and all — and trusting that you will float back to shore when you stop swimming upstream.
It means soft blankets, and tea, and foot massage. Even if you need to be the one massaging your own feet.
And chocolate, of course. And ice cream. And snow cones. And napkins. And tissues. Endless boxes of tissues. And coping skills that are served out of a kooky jar, with permission to drop crumbs, of course.

Permission-Based Healing is scary. It is counter-intuitive. It goes against everything in our culture.
We fear that if we stop fighting, our demons will win. We fear that if we stop running we are doomed. It is my experience that as long as I believe this, only the monsters are winning. In this path to recovery, the road to being your best self is through allowing your weak self to exist, allowing her to shake in her boots, and instead of judging her and hiding her in the closet, lending her a hand.  Permission-Based Healing is terrifying, and absolutely worth it. You can see more how and why on my This I believe page.

Permission-Based Healing is my life’s work.
It’s how I make sense of my mother’s suicide, the miracle of my second mom, the love I get from my dad and my husband.
It’s how I bring myself to talk about my own suicide attempt, despite the fact that every time I mention it I kinda wanna barf. It’s how I’ve managed to avoid barfing so far. It’s how I forgive myself for the fact that I only mention it briefly, but I still can’t bring myself to sit down and tell this story like it deserves to be told. I will. Someday. (Relatively) soon. I promise. (on the eve of my 40th birthday, I finally wrote some of it here.)

Permission-Based Healing is what we talk about here.
And in the mothers’ support groups here in Ithaca, at the Mama’s Comfort Camp private facebook group (and yes, you are absolutely invited to join us )  and the SpeakEasy support phone chats. It’s what I teach in the UnGuilt Trip curriculum, in which the first class (Not) Secret (Not) Weapon is now being served. It’s what we talk about in one-on-one coaching sessions. Anything that I will ever teach will have this very principle at its core.

Permission-Based Healing is the most subversive, most effective, most basic skill for happiness.
It is why I am here. On this blog. In this world. Without it, I’d be dead. I’m dead serious.

Permission-Based Healing means trust, and hope, and fear. And back.
It’s how I try my best to raise my kids. When I practice Permission-Based Healing, everybody around me, especially my family, thrives.

- – -
*Some words rub me the wrong way. Acceptance and surrender are probably at the top of this list, so I came up with something else so I can wrap my head (and my heart) around the concept of letting go. While I coined the term, I wouldn’t have been able to conceive of Permission-Based Healing without the work of Abraham Low, Marshal Rosenberg and Nonviolent Communications, Havi Brooks (with a big shout-out to the awesome members of her Kitchen Table program), Hiro Boga, Byron Katie, and my beloved friend Jayalalita. Endless gratitude.

And I’d never have known I could emotionally handle this work without Micaela and Christina, who trained me as a volunteer counselor at the Ithaca Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services.  Added special thank you to Micaela and the current Crisisline team for continuing to support me long after the last time I answered those phone lines. Your generosity and guidance sustains my postpartum depression work in our community.

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  11. Jill
    January 17, 2012 | 12:55 am

    When the love of my life committed suicide I gave myself permission to mourn and go deep down into my feelings of loss. Reading your blog made me appreciate that. Initially I thought I would go crazy from the grief but I felt crazier trying to hide from those feelings. This is the first time I’ve seen someone describe this as permission-based healing. Very helpful.

    • Yael
      January 24, 2012 | 12:08 am

      Sending truckloads of love your way, I’m so sorry your loss, and I’m feeling so much gratitude for your kind words.

  12. Anneliese
    January 16, 2012 | 3:29 pm

    A couple of years ago I realized that fighting had got me this far, and some form of that awful word acceptance was going to be necessary to get me the rest of the way. But I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t have the words or the skills. But that doesn’t change that i have to find a different path. So thanks for shining a light on the way! With words I can use! Keep going on your journey–we are following you!

    • Yael
      January 24, 2012 | 12:11 am

      Knowing that you are following me on this journey makes it a better one. Thank you.

  13. Michelle Russell
    January 14, 2012 | 11:28 pm

    It’s funny–I’ve never been a mother or suffered from PPD, but so much of what you’ve said on this page resonates for me anyway. Because who doesn’t have something they’re trying to heal from?

    And I’ve always been very much of the “warrior” mindset, whether through nature, nurture, or maybe a combination of both. Gotta be tough. Gotta take full responsibility for everything–and everyone. Can’t appear–can’t BE–weak.

    Only over the last handful of years have I come to realize I can approach my life differently. Now that I’m a recovering perfectionist (or as I sometimes call myself, an “overachiever and people-pleaser”), I love it when you say, “It means being imperfect. Being content with being Very Good Enough, and sometimes no good at all,”

    Hell, yes! :)

    I think you’re right–what you are calling Permission-Based Healing is terrifying. But oh, so important. Thank you for being so eloquent about it.

    • Yael
      January 15, 2012 | 12:29 am

      Oh, your kind words are making me so happy, Michelle. I always get shivers when I meet a former “warrior” who has found healing through laying the weapons down. Thank you for this.

  14. R.M. Koske
    September 23, 2011 | 10:29 am

    Thank you.

    I’m not exactly one of your people (as Havi Brooks phrases it) – I’ve never experienced PPD and what I’m healing from isn’t really in the zone of what you’re working with. But your words are healing to me, too, and the strength of relief I feel from your not-aimed-at-me stuff makes me absolutely certain that the PPD folks you’re working with are very, very lucky to have your help. Thank you for helping me, and thank you for helping them.

    (I’m here via a link from Havi.)

    • Yael
      September 26, 2011 | 9:48 pm

      I’m so happy you came here, so happy you found this comforting,and so grateful for your kind words. Thank you. and hugs. many.

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