Here’s something that gets me riled up and it should you as well.
Articles, books, “gurus” and coaches, too, are saying that they “give you permission” or that you “have their permission” to feel a certain way or to take some kind of action. It’s meant to be encouraging. However, think about who holds the power in such a statement.
Do you really need to have permission to be your authentic self or to take certain steps?
Yes, well-meaning people have your best interests at heart. They want you to succeed, to be bold, have courage, to take responsibility and pursue your dreams.
At the same time though, the implication is that you are somehow flawed and having permission will somehow free you to move forward in order to do great things on your own.
Of course these same well-meaning people are subtly selling approval and setting themselves up as PWPs (persons with power).
You do not need permission from anyone, including yourself.
Back when I was in junior high school and high school, parents often appealed to the principal or PWP to grant their child permission to leave school early for an appointment or other situation or to arrive late for class or to take a day off.
We had to get a permission slip.
At home, we had to obtain permission from an adult (primarily a parent) for such things as staying up or out late or to take the car, for example.
The truth is that you are a PWP.
You don’t need permission to take that course, buy that product, to eat an entire bag of chips or to indulge in a shopping spree. You don’t need permission to write that book, take art classes or journey to Brazil on a hiking odyssey.
Personally, I grew up in a household where my two primary PWPs were my parents. When I didn’t follow their suggestions, well-meaning advice or their plans for my future, they withheld their approval.
As I grew older, I discovered that this impacted my ability to trust my own decisions. For even the slightest thing that required some decision on my part, I sought their advice (read approval).
The way the real world works is that when we make a bad choice, break from tradition or don’t follow someone’s advice, we must live with the consequences.
In my reality back then, living with the consequences wasn’t really an option because my life and choices were scripted for me. The consequences consisted of some derogatory comments and/or disapproval of my decisions.
Because I wanted to please my parents, this meant that after only a slight deviation on my part from “the plan,” I found myself scrambling to get back on track, back into my parents’ good graces and toe the line.
For many, breaking away from our parents’ beliefs and desires and learning to think for ourselves is a rite of passage.
So eventually, I came across a Chinese fortune that said, “The price of accomplishment is the risk of failure, and failure is not a sin.”
This was my epiphany. In my youth, I truly felt failure was not an option. I placed the fortune inside a china egg-shaped container, where it remains today.
When someone offers you their permission, think about what that means. For women, there’s the implication that in some way you are weak or inadequate.
Perhaps you actually feel that way. But the answer is not to use someone else’s permission as a means of building and establishing your own boldness, self-esteem, courage and confidence.
Perhaps the word to substitute for permission is inspiration. Or what about encouragement? We can all use some of that.
Inspiration may work as a catalyst for accomplishing our goals, learning not to judge ourselves harshly and to be true to our authentic selves.
The outside of the china egg, where I store my fortune, reads, “Treat your world with tenderness.” And to that I would add, “And treat yourself with tenderness, too.” What is it that you like about yourself? What experiences have you had that made you feel confident? What makes you a PWP (person with power)?
You don’t need outside validation/approval from others. You don’t need permission to follow a particular course of action or to grow in some way, as long as you’re not being hurtful to others.
Seeking permission leads to a feeling of smallness within, and it’s my belief that it also contributes to the feeling of invisibility that many mid-life women feel.
So don’t ask for my permission (or anyone’s). Live your authentic life, trusting your instincts and believing you’re on the right path. You have everything you need inside you.
So let’s hear from you. Do you seek permission from others? Why, or why not? Please comment below, and let us know how you feel about the subject.