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The Okayness of Being: On Having Permission to Re-imagine, Re-define, and Change Your Mind

Permission is a concept I've long thought about. It's a stodgy word that calls forth schooldays and needing to use the restroom. Perhaps it brings forth resentments around checking with your parents on whether you can go to that movie or not or the permission you need from your boss to have that PTO day. If you think about it, we associate "permission" with rules and things having to do with lawful living. Some might even hate the word permission.

Okay…so in the spirit of redefining, I propose we consider the word permission as a word which calls forth freedom and liberation, casting off old labels that didn't serve us and stepping into a space where we embody the person we wish to be: whole, mindful, and present in whatever marvelous mess that may resemble.

I want to give myself permission to de-stigmatize and un-name many words in our therapeutic lexicon. Words are so important and conversations around mental health are dependent on a shared understanding of the words being used.

The problem is that there has rarely been a shared definition of the therapeutic vernacular: how could we all use the same words when the very feelings involved are so subjective?

Could we give ourselves permission to imagine a variety of definitions and be open to all of them? Words would become as unique as the experiences from which they come.

Let’s look at words that are commonly used by those who are medical and therapeutic professionals:


Emotionally Dysregulated






Diagnoses such as Bipolar/Borderline/PTSD/etc.

I can also think of non-clinical words that, throughout my life, have been tainted by the way others have treated me regarding their meaning of the word, such as:


Craving attention




What words would you add to this web? Share in the comments or email me your response.

Let us untangle this together.

Let’s reimagine the landscape of therapeutic language so the feelings we talk about reflect an emotional experience rather than a pathological one.

What if we gave ourselves permission to not be the labels? What if we were to unlearn all of it?

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