The Art of Giving ourselves permission to move ahead with a dream

Sometimes we just get stuck, bogged down by doubts and perceived taboos.

When I was teaching art privately in my studio many years ago, I regularly heard prospective students say “I don’t know if I have any talent, there aren’t any artists in my family, but I really want to learn.”

I would tell them that I could teach them the skills they would need to be able to paint or draw, but I couldn’t give them the desire to do it, that was what they brought to class.

It seemed amazing to them that I didn’t administer some kind of test to determine if they had the “stuff” to do it, but accepted anyone who had the desire to learn.

This seemed to be a huge mental and emotional shift for them. It felt as though I had given them permission to pursue something they really wanted to do, but their inner voice was casting doubts and making them feel they somehow had to deserve or earn it.

After we spoke they were then able to let their family and friends know very firmly that their art teacher said it was okay if they were the first in their family to learn to draw and paint, that maybe there WERE artists in the family, but they had to stuff their talents down due to disapproval they had received.

On a personal note, I’m taking a beginner Ukrainian class, and this is the 3rd semester that all the class is taking the beginner class. We keep learning and building our skills! This is persistence! We aren’t expecting ourselves to be great right off the bat, we’re giving ourselves the space to learn at our own pace! It isn’t just the learning of new skills happening in the class, but the building of friendships too!

What can happen when we don’t get or give ourselves permission

My first husband was very talented in drawing and when we first met he showed me his artwork. His father, however, was extremely critical of his son drawing, saying “Only gay men can be artists”, and “his son certainly wasn’t gay, so he needed to just STOP this drawing nonsense”. On top of that, his son wanted to become a radio broadcaster. Well, apparently that was only for gay men too, and as previously stated, HIS son wasn’t gay.

My former father-in-law had been extremely critical of his son ever since he had been an infant, and my ex had internalized all the negativity and craved his father’s approval, so guess what he did?

Right! He gave up his dreams of becoming a broadcaster and he stopped creating art.

He was miserable.

He drowned his disappointments and disillusionment in alcohol and drugs, so severely, that a few short years after we had met he had to go into rehab multiple times in order to learn to live a life in a healthier way that didn’t include numbing himself out and slowly killing himself.

I have seen this happen with other people too. Their families mocked them so badly or outright forbade them to pursue their dreams because they went against their inner belief system, that they ended up shoving their anger, pain, grief, and disappointment deep down, then numbed out with drugs or alcohol or both.

This is one of the negative effects of having to stuff dreams down and be denied the opportunity to do what we dream of doing.

Effects on relationships

The other negative effect can be seen in how that person treats their family members who dare to dream. If they themselves couldn’t do it, why should others be given the chance they had to walk away from?

The resentment against other family members or even friends who choose to pursue the same things that were denied to them is powerful and often spills out into the relationship through angry outbursts or behavior.

Since the person stuffed their disappointment and disillusionment down so deeply, it is difficult for them to identify the source of their anger. If they do realize what is making them angry, they won’t admit it because they realize their jealousy sounds petty.

This unhealed pain has often been passed from one generation to another, resulting in wounds that go way back.

Addictions often run in families where dreams have been killed. Unfortunately, there have also been negative bonding through their unspoken pains as well as the culture of heavy drinking or other substance abuse.

(Of course, there are other reasons why families abuse alcohol or drugs, such as sexual or physical abuse, but that is the subject of another post!)

I was an artist well before I met my second husband. I had been raised in my mother’s studio and was trained to be a teacher’s assistant at the age of 15 and by the next year, I was handling entire classes and then 1 of her 3 studios.

Even though I had all that experience, my first husband had difficulty accepting that I was “allowed” to be creative and make art, while he couldn’t. The mental block was too enormous for him to navigate around, so he poured his energies into appreciating music, which was acceptable to his father.

Giving ourselves permission can be radical, even rebellious!

Giving ourselves permission to go against the grain or the expectations is one of the things people can find to be very difficult to do, for it seems to test family loyalties on a deep level.

The guilt people feel over going against the expressed or implied wishes of the family can and has been a deterrent for many people, creating huge doubts inside of themselves.

This brings up deep soul questions:

  • What if they aren’t even “good” at what they want to do?
  • Would the ridicule they would have to endure be worth it?
  • Do they have the inner strength to stand up to their family and deal with the negative backlash for just trying?
  • If they aren’t “good” at what they really want to do, can they continue in order to improve, or would this shut them down?
  • Can they just do it for the pure enjoyment of it, and not worry about making their living from it?

These are all valid questions.

The only way to explore one’s dreams is to push through these questions, and give it a try anyway, otherwise, the alternative is to stuff the dreams way down in a deep hidden place and continue the generational angry disillusionments.

If you are at this point, what will you choose to do?

If you choose to give yourself permission to explore your dream, you will need to look at all the doubts and inner questions, and know that they mostly get resolved by DOING.

You probably will experience a period of time where people are questioning any talents they feel you may or may not have, but remember what I told my prospective students: you can learn all the skills you need through classes and teaching materials, but the desire and the motivation need to come from you!

If you have this desire and the motivation, why not give it a try?

You don’t even have to tell anyone in the beginning! You don’t have to make a life-changing move into full-time studies to lead to a job!

You can take a class or a workshop to see how it feels! You can do this part-time, as a hobby!

You don’t need to make a life-changing decision at this time! It’s okay to start small and to start slowly!

What would happen if you gave yourself permission?

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Tamara
https://tamarakulish.com/ Archived Posts: https://tamarakulish.com/archived-posts/

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25 thoughts on “The Art of Giving ourselves permission to move ahead with a dream

  1. This is good Tamara. There are so many ways that our families shape who we are, shape our future selves. Also, I like this particular notion, “Addictions often run in families where dreams have been killed.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, ma’am. Yes, I have observed this too often, unfortunately. If we want to break old familial cycles, we start with following our dreams and what brings us joy! We also encourage our friends and families to do so too! So much progress has been made with mental health awareness in the past few years, and we can keep it moving forward!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is an excellent and encouraging post, Tamara. I spent much of my school life being told I wasn’t clever enough to sit A levels or go to university, which was needed for the career of my choice, being a Nursery Nurse. Instead, I got shunted off to secretarial college for a year. I found I was quite good at learning these new skills and got a good job as a secretary in the City of London. However, I just didn’t feel it was what I really wanted. My Mum had been a secretary in her career, so it seemed only appropriate for me to follow in her footsteps.

    As it turned out, I married at 19 and gave up work to have my two children. After that, I worked as a cleaner and home help for ten years, which, although I was fond of the people I worked for, it, too, wasn’t what I wanted to do. Now, many years later, I would love to learn art. It was another of those subjects that the school and my parents told me I was no good at. Although I can’t afford to take art lessons, I’m going to have a day with a friend, creating some mixed media art at home. I’m so looking forward to this. Writing was also one of those things I struggled with at school, with frequent tears because I couldn’t write a story. Now, having taken some writing courses, I really enjoy writing my blog, sometimes in different genres. I still want to get better at it, and I am now working on this as I have found my passion at last. Thanks again, Tamara, for another wonderful and helpful post. Xx 🌼

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand what you’re saying! I too was told I wasn’t clever enough to do the things I wanted to do. My mother mocked me and told me my ideas were “pie-in-the-sky” I quietly went about doing some of them anyway, writing books was on my list of accomplishments. when I wrote a letter to my mother, I explained that her words had hurt me, but I went ahead and did those things anyway, and now I have well surpassed what she thought was impossible for me to do. Just because other people see things in smaller terms for us, doesn’t mean they were right!

      We have the right to go ahead and create the life we want, to do the activities we want, and even to make our own mistakes! This is your life, so bravo to you for forging ahead with it! Good on you for pursuing your interests!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, what an intense post. It is sad that so many people are put down and not allowed to follow or even try for the desires that they have. So much unnecessary cruelty is out there through generations of stupidity and lack of knowledge. I feel for anyone who has suffered and gone through the pain and misfortune of others. People should be allowed to explore the desires that God has put in them even if they don’t make a living with it. Life is full of learning and trial and error. Everyone should be given that opportunity. Good post Tamara.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Pennize! I agree with you regarding the suffering people have had to and continue to experience because of other people. Ignorance and opinionatedness are still very much alive, and people believe they are correct in their hearts for doing what they do, for various reasons. Sometimes they feel they are saving their friends or family members some future struggles, while others have been denied access to their dreams and they then block others from theirs. The reasons are varied, and this isn’t likely to change, so it becomes up to us to give ourselves the permission we need.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Giving ourselves permission can be radical, even rebellious!” I love that – and if you flip it around, we can’t do anything unless we give ourselves permission as you’ve shown so well in your examples. Lovely and inspiring, Tamara!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Wynne! As you know, every lesson we learn is hard won, so sharing with others is an act of love and altruism!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. All those years ‘trying’ to be acceptable to others. But in hindsight it is a part of us trying to understand us among our fears. And then one day we do understand us…and ‘let go’ of what was, to become what will be. That acceptance of who we really are, whatever that may be. Great post dear lady, may that journey shine that light into our darkness and set us free 😀❤️🙏🏽

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Mark! Love this! Yes, we’re all essentially discovering ourselves! Giving ourselves permission to just be ourselves is really big, and can feel very scary because we need to buck what others say to us. No longer needing their approval is part of the process, as well as blocking out their active naysaying.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Empowering message! Your intro made me emotional. Bravo teacher, Tamara! A brief personal share: my father discouraged me from pursuing anything in the creative field – too risky! He meant well; he just wanted me to have security. The problem is, when you don’t pursue your passions, security is more like a prison. I made sure to encourage my own daughter, to pursue her artistic gifts, when she was wrestling with a change in majors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, security can become a prison! As parents we’re well meaning, but we can still be Dream squashers. I did my daughter a huge disservice when she wanted to go into Egyptology and go to digs in Egypt. I had scores of people in my life who were terrified for her future choices, afraid that as a female in a country where women were treated poorly and raped if they were in situations deemed unsuitable for a woman, I was pressured to discourage her. I caved to the pressures, seemingly for her benefit, yet she never lost the interest. She could well have become an expert, even a professor. There were actually more options available to her than what we were aware of at that time. I regret that now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You made the best decision with what you felt and knew at that time. 🌻 Above all else, I believe our first instinct as a parent or grandparent is to want to protect our children. 💞 She sounds amazing! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for your support and reassurance! She is amazing and her teenage twins are seeing that now too! 😀🤩🤩

          Liked by 1 person

  7. This posts seem really timely as I was just talking on a different post about whether you keep your blog secret from friends and family.

    My answer to that is I do, and that is partly down to the reason that creative things in my family are seen as a ‘phase’ you go through before you get a ‘proper’ job.

    I don’t hold anything against my family as they were never aggressive against my creative side, just more implied that doing anything creative is silly or immature.

    As I went down that safe job route and lost time to do anything creative blogging became my outlet and permission to myself to express myself.

    Funny though as I’ve pursued a corporate career I’ve struggled in roles defined by process and we do things this way ‘because’

    Yet roles allowing creativity and new ideas I’ve thrived in. Before taking up writing I figured I just wasn’t very good, but it’s help me learn and get back more of that person I wanted to be in the first place!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love how you have found workarounds to express your creativity, and you have recognized that it is vital to your happiness! Kudos to you! No, we don’t have to share what we do with the negative people. We already know how they will react, so setting those inner boundaries in place is healthy for our own mental health. I like how you feel comfortable with your choices and yourself that you aren’t seeking approval from people who won’t give it! You are rocking this!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely yes! Taking risks in life is important when it is something that speaks to our souls and is necessary for our spirits to thrive!

      Like

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is exactly the encouragement I needed to hear! I just recently signed up for a class at a local college to pursue one of those career paths, where the desire is there but I’m nervous “can I do it”. I was raised being told who I was, and somewhere along the way I forgot who I actually am. This class feels like a big step for me. I’ll keep your words in mind! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! Good for you! Yes, keep going! You will definitely learn the skills!

      I’m taking a beginner Ukrainian class, and this is the 3rd semester that all the class is taking the beginner class. We keep learning and building our skills! This is persistence!

      **I think I need to add this little anecdote to the post!

      Liked by 1 person

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