A few years ago, I got some specific feedback that it would serve me, my work, and my growth to start practicing the art of allowing in a more conscious and deliberate way.
While I was familiar with the concept of allowing, I realized I had little awareness or experience of it in actual practice.
As I looked more deeply at it, I realized that I had a judgment about the whole concept of “allowing.” It had always seemed weak, passive, lazy, or based on “luck” to me. I’ve always prided myself on being a hard worker and someone who makes things happen.
However, as I’ve come to realize, much of my intense work ethic has to do with a deep-seated fear that if I ever slow down, stop pushing so hard, or simply expect things to just show up with ease, the whole house of cards of my life and my work might simply come crashing down around me.
Can you relate?
The Power of Acceptance
The art of allowing is an essential aspect of life and growth. It’s also a critical aspect of our success and fulfillment. The first aspect of allowing has to do with us accepting things as they are. One of my favorite quotes on this is from author and teacher Byron Katie who says, “When you argue with reality, you lose – but only 100% of the time.”
When we’re able to allow people, things, and situations to be as they are without judging them, trying to fix them, or wanting them to be some other way than how they actually are, we begin to tap into the immense power of allowing. Ironically and somewhat paradoxically, when we truly allow things and people to be exactly as they are, we open up a space for real change and transformation to occur (if that is what we want).
Trust, Patience, and Faith
The deeper aspect of allowing has to do with trusting, being patient, and having faith that what we want to manifest, create, and experience can and will show up as it is meant to.
In other words, it’s an ability to allow things to happen and materialize without us having to manipulate, dominate, or control to make things happen. For those of us, myself included, who tend to be a bit controlling at times, this can be incredibly challenging.
The paradox that exists with allowing runs deep within us. So many of us were taught and believe the saying that “if it is to be, it’s up to me.” And while there is truth and wisdom in this philosophy, as many of us know, feeling as though we have to work hard, run fast, keep up, and make everything happen is exhausting and insatiable.
No matter how hard we work, what we try to fix, or all of the changes we intend to make, if we don’t learn, practice, and ultimately master the art of allowing – true success and fulfillment will always elude us. Never underestimate the power of patience. Action is important, but we have to also learn to balance it out with our ability to allow.
Allowing takes faith, patience, and trust – three things essential for our peace of mind and well-being in life. However, these are not things we focus on, learn about, or are encouraged to practice in our intense, fast-paced, results-oriented culture.
The art of allowing is truly an art and often runs contrary to societal norms and pressures. It has to do with remembering, as the well-known saying goes, “We’re human beings, not human doings.”
How to Enhance Your Ability to Allow in Your Life
Here are a few things to think about and practice as you enhance your capacity and ability to allow with more ease in your life.
1. Ask yourself how you relate to the concept of “allowing.”
Take some inventory of your relationship with this idea. How do you feel about it? How comfortable are you allowing things and people to be as they are and allowing things to manifest with ease in your life? For many of us, this is something we may understand but not practice. Tell the truth to yourself about how you relate to allowing and notice how this impacts your life – one way or another.
2. Pay attention to what you focus on in regards to your biggest goals and aspirations.
Think about your biggest goals, dreams, and aspirations in your life right now. How much of your attention and energy is focused on doing, and how much is focused on allowing? While both doing and allowing are important, most of us put a disproportionate amount of attention on action.
Increasing our focus on allowing and ultimately receiving can be a magical, relaxing, and incredibly effective way to relate to our goals and dreams. This is often one of the big missing pieces in our desire for success and, more importantly, fulfillment.
3. Create an allowing practice
This is a simple practice you can do daily (like prayer, meditation, quiet reflection, affirmation, etc.) where you put your attention and awareness on allowing – accepting things as they are, trusting that things are working out as they are meant to, believing that the feelings, experiences, accomplishments, and outcomes which you most desire are on their way, and allowing yourself to receive these gifts and blessings with ease and gratitude.
You may need to reach out to others for support, guidance, and feedback about creating or deepening an allowing practice that will work for you – but doing this is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself (as well as to those around you).
Remember – We’re All in This Together
Have fun with this, and have compassion for yourself as well. For most of us, the art of allowing is a lot easier to think about or talk about than it actually is to practice and embody. The more attention we put on it, however, the easier it gets. And, as we deepen our ability and capacity to allow – our whole life can transform with ease, grace, and gratitude.
How are you at allowing? What can you do to allow things to be as they are and also allow things to show up with ease in your life? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more on my blog below.
Mike Robbins is the author of five books, including his latest, We’re All in This Together: Creating a Team Culture of High Performance, Trust, and Belonging. He’s a thought leader and sought-after speaker whose clients include Google, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Schwab, eBay, Genentech, the Oakland A’s, and many others.
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This article was originally published in March 2010 and updated for 2023.