from Flickr marinacaprara

Caress from Flickr marinacaprara

Today, I would like to contemplate the following question which affects how confident our children become:

Do our actions align with our values for ourselves and our family?

If we want to inspire confidence in our children, they need to see us confident and happy. In order to be happy, to be confident, we have to give ourselves permission to dream and then work hard to attain the dream.

I had the experience a few days ago in which I had to remind myself and give myself permission to dream. My own experience of this was so visceral that I thought it would be useful to share what I learned (it seems like I keep learning this lesson).

I realized that there are four questions we must continually ask ourselves:

  • How do we know when we are not giving ourselves permission to dream?
  • What does it feel like?
  • What happens when we do give ourselves permission?
  • What does that feel like?

I’m currently trying to form a habit of writing Morning Pages, as set forth in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks.


As I sat down to write, I wanted to set the intention of writing for clarity. I asked myself, “What do I really want?” I started to think, and as the image of my dream came to my mind, my internal dialogue began. “No,” it said, “you can’t want that.” This happened in less than a second, before I had time for my pen to start moving.

As soon as I told myself “No”, as soon as I negated my own dream, almost at the same instant, I felt my chest tighten.

I’ve been working on my body awareness for some time. You can read more about it in the post titled Having the Courage to Radiate Emotion. I know that the tightness, or any negative feeling, is a signal that I was moving in the wrong direction.

I stopped and consciously gave myself permission to go back to that dream, to articulate what I had begun thinking.

As soon as I gave myself permission, the image of what I wanted gushed out. It flowed with such clarity and intensity that it was hard to deny. I wrote the image down and the tightness lifted. I felt lightness, openness, hope, and peace.

I’m not sure what will become of that vision. If it will come into reality as I have envisioned or if it will morph in ways that I don’t yet see possible. At this point, that uncertainty does not matter.

What matters is that I know. I am clear about what I am to do next.

The Process of Negating and Allowing

I share this experience because I wonder how often we do this to our children. How often we stop them before they finish articulating their dream? And, I wonder, what happens to their hearts when we do?

Further, how is our relationship with them affected because we stop ourselves from dreaming? from trying to achieve what we truly want? by putting our dreams in a holding pattern until later?

If we want them to feel confident and happy, we should start with what helps us create the feeling of lightness, openness, hope and peace.

When was the last time you gave yourself permission to dream without stopping yourself mid-stream because the dream is not realistic? because there are too many other complications? because it is not the sensible thing to think?

Ask your daughters that question. What do you really want?

Watch their eyes sparkle, but be ready for the instant of hesitation. Be ready to give them permission to dream. Be ready to talk about what they felt when they hesitated. Teach them to release that feeling. Take them back to the dream, however incomplete, and watch for the moment when they give themselves permission to dream.

You will know. You will see it in their eyes and bodies; you will see when they have allowed themselves to hope and dream big.

Join us in the discussion below. What does it feel like for you when you stop yourself from dreaming? What do you feel? where do you feel it? How does it feel when you allow yourself to dream? How is that different?

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