Day in and day out I see women in my coaching and psychology practice who ask me the same question: Do you think I should?
The question may relate to a variety of things, ranging from; should I leave my husband to and I’m not kidding, should I have a bath tonight (very water wise client that one). My professional answer is usually a slightly more stoic response that would make Socrates proud, however on the inside (and at times a much less professional version of myself) wants to scream “FFS DO WHAT MAKES YOU THE HAPPIEST!!!!!” Of course, I would never say that because these women are beautiful trusting ladies who I adore and utterly understand why this is difficult for them.
But my point is Most of the time…. You don’t need anyone else’s permission – You got this, it’s time to Give Yourself Permission.
Not so long ago I was driving with my kids and noticed that a park near our house was being watered with some giant sprinklers and immediately stopped the car. My children (6 & 2 years old) began to question our sudden halt, I told them we were taking a detour to run through the magnificent green grass and have a wonderful time frolicking in the water. My 2-year-old squealed with delight but my 6 year old, immediately became hesitant and stated: “we need to ask someone if it’s ok!!”
This kid needed permission to do exactly what kids are supposed to do: throw caution to the wind and be a kid.
This struck me immediately and it made me wonder how and why the two reacted so differently to the same experience. Well, perhaps it’s their developmental stages (2year olds really don’t give a shite about anyone or anything!) but more than that my 6-year-old has four years on the little one and he has been exposed to much more societal and parental conditioning.
“Don’t do that, be careful, raise your hand if you need to go to the toilet, ask to leave the table…. “
Are the constant messages that we bombard our children with, it’s NO bloody wonder we grow up into adults that are constantly asking for permission!!! Of course, we have good intentions when we mould our children to ask permission, it makes them considerate, rule abiding, good citizens. Children need boundaries and they deserve guidance, it’s essential to their understanding of the world and how they fit into social groups. However what happens when we grow up and we are still asking permission for things that we are completely and utterly entitled to?
I’ll tell you what happens we become adults that are fearful, anxious and unhappy. We rely on others to validate our needs and we lack the clarity and confidence to follow our dreams.
Why do I know this? Well, my name is Melanie and I am a recovering Permission seeker.
All my life I have been risk averse and fearful. I was a good little kid who always followed the rules – No Matter What. Although this has served me in many ways, it has been problematic. 30 odd years of asking for permission has meant that my life took a trajectory that was overly influenced by other’s needs, opinions and objections. Thankfully those who I asked permission from, where level headed role models who steered me in a solid direction BUT what ended up happening was that I got to my mid-thirties with a husband and two kids and I had HAD A GUTFUL of being told what to do rather than doing what I wanted to do.
You see that’s what happens when you seek others permission… they just start telling you what to do even before you ask. Or you tell yourself NO before anyone even has a chance to give you permission, which I think is even more debilitating because on a deeper level we don’t think we are worthy of what we truly wish we had.
So guess what happened? I was completely and utterly unhappy and didn’t even know how to fix it. It was shameful as a Psychologist to admit this to myself, I was the one people were coming to see to help them and at this point, I felt like a total failure. From the outside people commented how I had everything, a successful career, a great husband and two fabulous little boys. And although all of that was lovely, I wanted more… I needed more. I had to make a choice: continue to seek others permission to fulfil my dreams or learn to give myself permission to follow my deepest hopes and desires.
My choice was to give myself permission to follow my dreams and flourish in the areas of my life that were vital to my happiness.
That sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well…. It is that simple and it isn’t that simple.
The simple part is noticing that you are a permission seeker and making the decision give yourself permission rather than rely on anyone else.
Here are some tips:
Permission seekers may:
For me, the decision to ask for my own permission came when I just couldn’t tolerate the Is This It Pit in my stomach any longer…. Hopefully, you think I’m crazy and could never understand what I’m talking about. But if you know exactly what I mean, you’ll know it’s that nagging, empty feeling in your belly that constantly churns whispering/screaming/growling “IS THIS IT? Is this as good as our life is going to get….I WANT MORE!”
Here’s how you can make the decision to Give Yourself Permission:
If any of these resonated with you then…. Well, it’s time.
It’s time you made the simple decision to Give Yourself Permission to play a bigger game.
Now here’s the not so simple part.
You are going to need to work at this, it may feel weird, it may feel yucky and there may be people around you who resist your decision. This is why you must be completely steadfast in your belief that this is what you want. You have to know it’s what you want and be fully committed to practising this skill – yep, it’s a skill just like any other skill, you may stumble but you must have the willingness to pick yourself up and keep trying.
Here are some of the ways I successfully became a recovering permission seeker:
Whether you are looking to change your life dramatically or simply make some little tweaks, the skill of Giving Yourself Permission will undoubtedly be an empowering and rewarding asset.
“The more we’re forging our own path, the more we feel the need to be granted permission to do so. And often, there’s nobody there to give us that assurance”