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Allowing (as opposed to Trying)


Allowing is a key concept in many self-help approaches. Allowing is the act of accepting or permitting something, often with a focus on oneself. For example, in the context of sleep, allowing would be about letting go of expectations and both trusting and accepting that one may fall asleep (as opposed to trying to fall asleep as if one can muscle oneself into relaxing and shutting down for a rest).

Allowing can be a difficult concept to grasp, but once you have the hang of it it's very simple to implement. It's much more tricky to figure out where allowing can apply and remembering to apply it, since it's nearly doing nothing. But it is doing something, and it can be very successful under certain circumstances where trying has become frustrating. In many cases, trying too hard to achieve something can actually make it harder to attain. This is where allowing comes in: sometimes by trusting and accepting that something may happen of its own accord we are more likely to achieve it.

Allowing is also something of a practice. We may allow things into our life by way of positive affirmations, visualization, or simply taking time to appreciate the good things in our life. Additionally, it can be helpful to let go of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations. Remember that progress is perfect!

Where can we allow instead of try?

Where "trying" is something active and often gets in the way, sometimes becoming entirely passive, or "allowing" by which we mean getting out of your own way is of benefit.

Some "allowable" skills or phenomenon are:

  • floating on water
  • falling asleep
  • switching headmates
  • merging or blending headmates
  • communication , especially with non-verbal headmates
    • journaling (as in a stream of consciousness style)
    • autowriting/autotyping
  • Co-consciousness New
  • empowering stuck residents New to free themselves
  • internal landscaping
  • remembering (allowing ourselves to remember, rather than trying not to forget something)
  • mistakes (as in anti-perfectionism; allowing ourselves to make mistakes and recovering mistake-hypervigilance spoons)
  • new system fronters
  • listening fully (as a communication improvement)
  • hope
  • selves-care
  • creating & defending boundaries
  • authenticity (as in anti-masking)
  • discomfort (sometimes it's ok to be uncomfortable without running away or dissociating)
  • feelings (feelings are just feelings, they're neither bad nor good. We don't always have to do anything about them. We can feel our feelings.)
  • crying (it's also ok to cry…we can allow ourselves to cry sometimes)
  • ask for help
  • play (sometimes we can be very uptight about seeming "too child-like" — and it's ok for adults, teens, and kids in our system to play. We don't always have to try to "adult" all the time.)
  • being disabled (internalized ableism can be one way shame New manifests. It's ok to need help, accommodations, assistive technology, extra rest or breaks, to modify our activities, etc.)
  • spontaneity (we can get into some very rigid expectations, and need everything to be very predictable and certain. Allowing some spontaneity may be acceptable.)

There are certain acts we do that are more about a form of self-surrender (in a good way) than they are about effort or trying or attempting to do something through force of will.

The idea is that you get further with these acts or skills by way of letting go or relaxing than exerting yourself. Getting out of your own way. Trusting a natural process to take place without conscious interference.

Example of Allowing: Floating on Water

Our best most accessible example is floating on water. Learning to float is learning how to allow or let go, how to trust that it is natural to float. The more you struggle, the more you "try" and tense muscles in anticipation of doing something, the less you're able to float. Floating on water is about laying back and letting go. And a little faith that it's not only possible, it's the natural way of such things.

Falling Asleep

Other areas of life have a similar "natural ways of such things". When one relaxes and lets go of thinking, in a dark place, where your body is fully supported, and allows the creative mind to gently wander — sleep happens. Trying to fall asleep is effort where allowing oneself to fall asleep is an exercise of effortlessness. (Sleep disorders other than insomnia possibly being an exception, but this is worth experimentation regardless.)

System Inclusion

This refers to the idea of accepting and welcoming all parts of oneself, even those that may be difficult or challenging. It also includes giving permission to each part of oneself to express itself in its own way. By actively welcoming system members, welcoming them, making space & accommodations for them, they can then feel more like they're allowed to participate.

Switching Fronts

Where there are areas where broken boundaries are an issue and we allow too much — sometimes there is conscious resistance or over-effort where we would be best served melting into what we wish to achieve and practicing completely setting aside all effort. Switching is one of those areas — where we often push and shove and expend mental energy rather than feeling the draw of someone towards front, and concurrently deciding to allow ourselves to melt away into the background or step away from front at the same time.

Allowing switching, this form of blend switching, can help preclude switching headaches and can help with internal relations as well. Less spoons (daily energy) is spent in the process, which improves internal relations as well. Sometimes folk need to work on trust first New, if the resistance is reluctance for that person to front, or fear of what they may do if they're front.

Note, one can allow someone to come partway front and share front with them (co-fronting New), which is one way to form a "buddy system New" (i.e. to chaperone or assist someone who is fronting).

Allowing can also help when folk are stuck front. If the folk who are front can relax more, and slowly let go and allow someone else to sidle up and front, it can make a much easier transition out of being front-stuck.

Merging or Blending (headmates)

This can happen when headmates feel so comfortable with each other, trust each other enough, or have a shared purpose/need aligned to the point that they are willing to allow themselves to meld into each other. It's a form of synergy, being on the same wavelength, and we've found that it's often not something anyone tries on purpose, but is more like "Who is front? Feels like this or maybe that one…oh it's both? neither? both? neither? Ack!" until it's figured out.


Sometimes folk try to hard to communicate with others in their system, and especially with regard to non-verbal headmates, the act of trying can be "too much" -- too forceful or crowd out the voices in the background. As we say on the linked page, communication is more about listening than whether others can hear you: being quiet to allow others to speak, and paying attention when they do, are both very important skills. Also stream of consciousness journaling and autowriting/autotyping are "allowing" communication styles.


Ever forget the name of an actor or movie, and it seems like it's on the tip of your tongue, and you try try try but can't remember. Eventually either you forget that you were trying or give up, and a few minutes later it pops into your head? Once again, trying is mucking up the works of remembering. If we make the request for the information then let it go — it will usually come to us soon. Try too hard, and it will probably be later.

Co-consciousness New

This is a form of allowing folk inside to know you exist and what's going on with you (as a system member).


This happens when barriers to the Here & Now are permeable enough for system members to be aware of what is going on in the Now, both inside & out.

Moving on in the Grief & Recovery process

i.e. empowering stuck residents New to free themselves (a pretty new concept to explore)

We're pretty sure that there's some aspect of coming from trauma-time to the Here & Now that involves allowing oneself to let go of repeating the past traumas. A release of some type of attachment to that past. So if the stuck person is, say, trying to regain their lost innocence, they are stuck in the losing of it — continually trying to hold on to it. The realization that it's really lost, and hanging on to that moment won't get it back — it only becomes a form of self-torment — allowing oneself to move past that episode and acknowledging that it changed you is important. It doesn't mean the trauma work from that incident is done, but you can do that trauma work from the Here & Now.

We need to grieve the very real loss(es) we have experienced. There are many phases of grief — and denial ("This isn't really happening! This can't have happened! I don't believe it.") is one of the first phases most people experience. So when we lose something — our faith in our caregivers, our innocence, our trust in humanity — it's very real and very necessary to move through the grieving process.

Internal Landscaping

More on Allowing

We've been trying to explain this for years. So here's a (presumably) singular person talking about it with regard to meditation, attachments to outcomes, etc.

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