Can You Give Yourself Radical Permission?

image of Journal of Radical Permission book cover, featuring a flowering tree

Reviewing the Journal of Radical Permission by adrienne maree brown and Sonya Renee Taylor

When adrienne maree brown and Sonia Renee Taylor get together to create a guided journal as part of the Emergent Strategy Series, you better believe I’m gonna be first in line! The Journal of Radical Permission does not disappoint. It may be most generative to engage with it tandem with other resources (including the authors’ other books), but the journal is designed to empower the reader/writer for their own exploration and does so in a loving, exploratory fashion.

This journal is designed as a 12-week practice where you work with one prompt per day, contextualized by introductory and closing notes from each author and a brief paragraph at the start of each prompt section. In her introductory note, Taylor describes this journal as a “space to explore the alchemical nature of your own permission” and “what in you wants to be liberated to its own truth.” In hers, brown notes that “we will not be able to claim something as a collective that we have not been in the practice of claiming for ourselves, in our bodies, with our time and our decisions, in our communication.”

With the authors’ words, I immediately felt myself located in the traditions of healing justice and emergent strategy, where small personal healing practices aren’t separate from or precursors to a just world, but are themselves practices of justice. That said, this is a journal not a book, so you’ll be your own guide in embodying the alchemy and claiming that the authors describe. I found that when I just treated it as a place to check in with a prompt each morning, I was sometimes tempted to skip or to say “oh, I’ve already done that work,” and I needed to really carve space out to engage with the fullness of the work, including my own resistance.

If you intend to take this on as a true practice, I’d recommend finding a way to ground into the theme outside of the journal—perhaps through related reading, a podcast, an altar practice, pulling cards, or displaying some words related to the current practice in your space.

The journal is divided into six two-week practices covering themes of body wisdom, self-worship, shadow, mutual worship, life alignment, and emergence, with a few concluding “harvest” prompts at the end. Within each section, there’s an arc where you first assess where you are, then go through three days of prompts each for surrender, curiosity, grace, and satisfaction around each theme, with a final reflection at the end.

In going through this journal over the last twelve weeks, I found the central theme of radical permission particularly represented in the way the prompts encourage you to soften, to allow, and to be aware. While your responses may lead you to consider changing your behaviors, it’s not remotely a strive-y, goal-oriented approach. Questions like “what is care to me?” really got me thinking, and I appreciated the number of “what would it look like if…?” style prompts that guided me to feel into possibility, even if some of them I honestly had to answer with “I have no idea!”

One of the challenges I found was simply staying present with a “what if” prompt, especially when I wanted to say “well I don’t know, you tell me!” or “uh, I think I need a therapist for this.” This is where the framework of radical permission comes alive: what CAN you explore on your own? What might that look like? What could you allow yourself to imagine?

The two-week practices themselves are pretty self-contained, but within a practice there’s a building energy. I found it to be an excellent companion for my overall work around enoughness and self-trust, and would recommend for those who want to engage a little more interactively with some of the concepts you might have read in the authors’ previous work or similar titles. While you may ultimately want further support, there’s something healing in first engaging with your own sense of resourcing and possibility.

ARC provided through Edelweiss.

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