It’s a small word with big potential for impact. As I was looking up the definitions of “allow”, I came across, “Allow implies complete absence of an attempt, or even an intent, to hinder.”
That was a WOW moment for me as I reflected on some of the more unwelcome transitions I’ve had in my life. I can vividly recall several that I experienced kicking and screaming the entire way. I’m the Queen of Pushback when it comes to something happening that isn’t what I want or wasn’t in my plan. Even though time and time again, I’ve seen really beautiful outcomes from hard experiences, my default mode of resistance kicks in when things get sideways.
A few years ago I selected “Open and Allow” as my mantra for the year. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, but I do intentionally select a phrase to serve as a guidepost and, yes, also as a challenge. This was a big one for me because I set myself up for a full year of working on this tendency to resist instead of allow what’s coming. Let me tell ya, it was a doozy!
Shifting my mindset to allowing and dropping any attempt - or even intent - to hinder what’s happening always blows things wide open for me. For starters, while the transition itself may still be uncomfortable, I’m not adding extra layers of suffering on top of it by fighting back against it so hard. It also gives me room to get curious about what’s happening. Since my focus and energy aren’t going towards pushing back, I have some more headspace to step back from the experience a bit further and gain some perspective. Every time I ask the questions, “What is this situation trying to teach me? What can I learn from this?”, I’m absolutely amazed at how rich the experience can be. It doesn’t mean it feels good, necessarily, but I can appreciate some of the dimensions at play instead of getting bogged down only in the ickiness of what’s occurring.
If you’re experiencing friction or frustration anywhere, instead of asking “How can I fix this? How can I stop this?”, instead try asking what parts of it you can simply be open to and allow instead. It may not make it enjoyable, but there’s a high likelihood it will become less painful and more instructive.
Nicole Lance is a women’s leadership development expert, facilitator, executive coach, speaker, strategic planner, and promoter of self-care. She is passionately committed to helping organizations and individuals succeed in reaching - and reaching beyond - their goals.