When we give ourselves permission to be exactly as we are, then it is inevitable that anxiety will come to an end. Out of this unconditional wholehearted permission-giving, only peace can come. Unconditional acceptance always results in peace.
The question is, how do we give ourselves unconditional permission to be exactly as we are? How do we obtain the tremendous sense of peace that comes with this unconditional self-acceptance?
The basic experiential fact is that I find myself flatly incapable of giving myself this permission. I find that I am unable to give myself this freedom – no matter how much I want to, no matter how much I believe that it is the right thing to do. It is as if this freedom is not mine to give…
The clear understanding that I cannot give myself this permission, that I cannot allow myself this freedom – the freedom to be exactly as I am – is however an excellent starting-off point. It is in fact a very sound and workable starting point.
Why this should be so is of course not at all apparent to us. This ‘impossibility’ (the impossibility of being able to give ourselves permission to be the way we actually are) does not seem to be any sort of a starting-off point at all – it seems in fact to be the exact opposite of a starting-off point! It seems like a dead-end. It seems like very bad news.
The reason that the clear perception that we are incapable of giving ourselves permission to be the way that we are is a perfectly sound ‘starting off’ point is very simple. If we can see that we just can’t do this – if we can see that it is in fact quite IMPOSSIBLE for us to give ourselves permission to be the way we are just because we want to, just because we think that it is the right or helpful thing to do – then in seeing this truth we have actually given ourselves permission to not be able to give ourselves permission.
When we clearly see that it is impossible for us to give ourselves the freedom to be exactly the way that we are (which is something we have learned as a result of persistently trying) then it follows that we have at the same time given ourselves the freedom not to be able to allow ourselves to have the freedom to be exactly as we are.
No matter how you look at this, it always comes out the same way – seeing that something is so is the same thing as unconditionally allowing it to be so. Seeing clearly that something is so is the end of our stubborn resistance to it being so. We have dropped our resistance, we have dropped our denial.
As soon as resistance is ended (as soon as the denial has been dropped) then there is peace. This is the only way to find peace, and it is also an infallible way to find peace. There is no way that it can’t work! If I am no longer fighting myself, if I stop refusing myself permission to be the way that I actually am, then how can there not be peace?
The way that I am is that I am stuck – I am unable to give myself permission to be the way that I am. So I see this, I see that I am unable to accept the way that I am, and in seeing this truth I have accepted it. So I have accepted myself as being the way that I am after all…
There seems to be a paradox here. First we say that it is impossible for us to give ourselves permission to be the way that we are just because we want to, just because we think that it is the right or helpful thing to do, and then the next minute we turn around and say that it is possible after all, that we can give ourselves ‘permission to be’. The thing is however that in the first case we couldn’t give ourselves permission because we wanted to, whilst in the second case it wasn’t our choice at all!
This is the crucial point – I can give myself permission to be the way that I am, but not because I choose to do so. I can give myself freedom to be the way that I am only when I am given the freedom to do so. The freedom ultimately comes not from myself, therefore, but from somewhere outside myself.
This makes a lot of sense really because freedom isn’t mine to give! If I am not free in the way that I am, in the way that I find myself, then how can I give myself freedom? How can freedom come out of the lack of freedom? How can I give myself what I haven’t got?
We all tend to think that we need this or that we need that – we think that we need all sorts of things in order to be happy, or in order not to be feeling bad. What we really need however is simply peace of mind and it is only when we have lost all peace of mind that we can appreciate how valuable it is.
I myself cannot give myself peace however because I do not have it to give. If I had it to give then I wouldn’t need it! If I set myself the task of somehow finding peace for myself I will be at this task for a very long time – and even then I will be no closer to finding it than when I first started looking for it.
It is not possible for me to find peace through trying any more than it is possible for me to give myself ‘permission to be’ – the two are the same thing. What I can do however is to notice this fact, to notice that it is not possible for me to find peace by striving, by struggling, by fighting (any more than it is possible for me to deliberately give permission for myself to be the way that I am). But just as soon as I truly notice this fact – as soon as I clearly see it for myself – then I have found peace, without any effort on my part, without any fighting, without any trying…