Ripping Off the Band-Aid – My Journey to Giving Myself Permission

A while back I said out loud in our office in a teenage, whiny, and defensive voice, “You know, I really like getting my nails done and I’m sick of feeling guilty about it so I’m just going to do it and not feel bad about it…so there”. My colleagues looked up at me, puzzled, with one eyebrow in the air thinking, “What in the hell are you talking about?!”

After some conversation about it, Rachel realized my strange behavior was a plea for permission to do a thing I had somehow convinced myself was “bad” and said, “I give you permission to get your nails done regularly AND enjoy it”. Phew, problem solved. That actually made me feel better. Crazy.

We all have realities we create for ourselves where we can’t get our nails done, can’t go golfing on a Wednesday, have to work 50 hours a week, can’t say no to anything, don’t deserve time off, shouldn’t eat ice cream, spend crazy money or enjoy the simple things. We’ve built our lives around cant’s and shouldn’t. We know the rules and the rules are the best, well, rules to live by.

But what happens when we decide to break our “rules”? When we decide to change our rules or adopt new rules? We get a chance to see the world from a different angle. To some that sounds scary and to some it sounds awesome. For those of you excited to hear about the upside-down view – read on.

When Rachel gave me “permission” to get my nails done regularly and enjoy it, she ripped off my permission band-aid for me. You know the feeling – when you were a kid you tried gingerly pulling your band-aid, millimeter-by-millimeter off your knee, minding every hair and bit of boo-boo. After several minutes of pain (worse than the boo-boo pain, no doubt) you find your mom to help you and, as she gently sits you on her lap and tells you to count to three she rips the band-aid off somewhere between one and two! You grab your knee and yelp, only to realize that it didn’t hurt, not at all, and now it’s done. This is what it’s like as an adult-only the boo-boo isn’t on your knee, it’s on your mind. And sometimes, to get that band-aid off, you need someone’s help to just get it over with.

Permission band-aids are stories we’ve told ourselves forever-and-a-day that have morphed into our habits and lives. I was always told having your nails done was a waste of money and time. Why would you get your nails done only to have them be ruined? And don’t get me started on how much dirt lives under those things! So, I have been doomed for years to believe my guilty pleasure was just that, a guilty pleasure that was wrong to indulge.

After some thoughtful consideration, I realized the circumstances in my life now are much different than they used to be, and certainly different than my mother’s, who was a major influencer in this situation. I no longer work on the ranch daily, and I’m not in healthcare like my mother. I can afford to have my nails done, stay intact, and look good. But even realizing that wasn’t enough. I had to say the words out loud and get permission from another adult I trusted before I was convinced this was a good idea.

We can talk ourselves into a lot, and we can talk ourselves out of a lot, but there are dirty old band-aids still hanging around on our mind that we can’t see. Sometimes we need others to help us find them and pull them off. Don’t be afraid to hunt down your permission band-aids and ask someone to help you rip them off. Trust me, it won’t hurt as bad as you think it will.