The importance of permission.
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Without trepidation and with an abundance of confidence, our cute puppy dog eyes, pointing fleshy fingers and symphony of melodic cries, communicated our every desire…long before we learn the meaning of the word no. In these early stages, our list of requirements were limited to our basic physiological needs but as our needs and wishes grew, so did our communication and our ability to find adorably (and annoyingly), manipulative ways to survive and have our needs met.
We employed ingenuity, resilience, audacity, and the enviable, unwavering determination, that only toddlers have, to push boundaries and to satisfy their cravings. As we begin to push, so to do our parents. We begin to hear the word “no” increasingly often, conditioning us to follow rules, laws and social norms, that take us away from our innate ways, to becoming socially accepted beings. Permission during this time becomes a way of life. Compulsorily obtainable from parents, extended family, care givers, authority, teachers, siblings…the list goes on. Permission became the norm, to keep us safe, to avoid fearful confrontation and to integrate us as civilised human beings, into the wider community. Ultimately this permission is also the way in which we avoid rejection and gain approval from others.
This is great in creating social harmony and acceptance, however there is a downside. Sometimes as we become adults, we are willing to forego our needs and deny ourselves permission to obtain what we truly desire, due to our childhood need to be accepted and seen as likeable.
Here’s the good news! You’re an adult! It is entirely up to you to rewrite the rule book. Don’t get me wrong, I am not encouraging you to rob a bank; far from it; but I am encouraging you to dig deep and ask yourself what is it that you need, desire, long for? Then ask yourself if you waiting for someone else to give you the permission you are refusing to give yourself?
Quite often in reality, we are the saboteurs of our own happiness and sometimes this sabotage comes from fear (fear of disapproval or rejection; as discussed; or even sometimes a fear of success), a feeling of not being good enough or undervaluing ourselves. This has the potential to cause inner conflict which can manifest in anxiety, depression or burnout or behaviours which incite arguments and external conflict.
So, if you find that you are restricting yourself from living the live you truly want, by withholding permission, here are some things you can consider giving yourself permission to do:
Care for yourself!
Sounds simple doesn’t it!? Well, how many times do we skip meals to tick something off the to-do list? Fail to slow down when every fibre in our bodies is telling us to rest? Buy the kids a treat, instead of getting ourselves that much needed new underwear (hands up…come on!) We see self-care as an indulgence not a necessity, a selfish act that takes us away from our calling to help others. The truth as we really know it is that we cannot pour from an empty cup. It is vital to replenish our batteries and feel our worth in order to meet the demands of daily life. Self care is putting your needs above the wants of others and there aint nuttin’ wrong with that! As I say to many of my clients, better to make time for your wellness, than make time for your illness.
This links in with self care but as adults we have a tendency to see child like fun as something strictly for the kids. Laugh, play, jump in puddles, do some colouring! When we get in touch with our “free child” we can induce restorative healing. It also has the mindful ability to keep us in the moment, which reduces our capacity to think of anything else other than the fun we are having. (by the way if you happen to see me on the zipwire at the Geopark just know I am indulging my inner child…true story).
To remove toxic people from your life.
Contentious I know and often easier said than done, however, if you feel that there are people around you that cause you pain, you have the right to grant yourself permission to distance yourself from them. And yes, this includes family! Embrace the people who raise you up and release the negative who aim to pull you down.
It is widely known that some have a fear of failure. Conversely, there are some who also have a fear of success or that believe they do not deserve to succeed. This deep-seated belief that hides in the depths of our subconscious, creates doubt, that mutes our permission to take a leap of faith.
If in reading this, something has resonated for you, ask yourself “what would it feel like to succeed in all aspects of my life?” if the answer is coupled with resistance or discomfort, there is a chance that this may pertain to you and that there may be ways in which you are sabotaging your success. For some, it is more comfortable not succeeding, than the unpredictability that success may offer.
Remember, you are unique and you offer the world something that no one else can, trust in your abilities and uniqueness and do not let imposter syndrome take you from your goal (I will speak more on that next week). It is OK to consider yourself successful and give yourself permission to be it!
Ask for what you want and set boundaries
Grant yourself permission to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is a huge strength that many struggle with because they have a tendency to associate it to needy and victim like behaviours, which is a misconception of what true vulnerability is. It is powerful in that it allows you to employ the skills of others and is a conducive way of maintaining self care whilst reserving your energy for other tasks. Healthy vulnerability could be as straightforward as talking to someone if you have a problem, to delegating tasks, asking for someone to watch the kids for an hour, or borrowing the lawnmower from a neighbour.
Asking for what you want also encompasses knowing your worth…requesting the pay rise, asking someone to stop something that upsets you or merely being heard. Own your voice and speak your mind…in an assertive but mindful way of course.
Equally as important is giving yourself the permission to say yes and no, with the understanding that both are appropriate depending on the situation.
Be unapologetically you!
We are all born with unique predispositions that can be filtered to conform to societal acceptance. Unfortunately no amount of social conditioning will make a fish a monkey or vice versa. Learn to love your innateness, whether you are introvert, extrovert, quirky, funny, geeky, intelligent… that is what you have been gifted with…roll with it and allow yourself the freedom to be you.
To be loved
Every day we extend invitations to others, on how we expect to be treated and what we will accept. If we have low self-worth and we don’t feel good enough, our invitation may be one that invites others to treat us in accordance to how we feel about ourselves.
If we feel unlovable we can subconsciously extend this message to others.
Acknowledge that your worth is equal to that of anyone else and that if someone is unable to love you (past or present) it merely speaks volumes about their ability to love you and not you ability to be loved. Make the conscious choice to accept yourself and accept nothing less than care respect and love for yourself.
To not be perfect
Dita Von Tees once said “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches” (give me a plum any day!) Know that even the most "perfect" of us (not that perfection exists), will have their critics. With this in mind, know its OK to give yourself permission to be less than perfect. This does not just pertain to aesthetic qualities but to life in general. It's OK to make mistakes, to fail, and to "wing things" sometimes. It is impossible to have life figured out all the time, especially through periods of unpredictability and trauma. Remember, much learning and growth can be accomplished through failure, often more so than through a technical successes.
To let go of messages that no longer serve you
As children we are offered conditions of worth ("you are good IF"… messages). We are also told "shoulds" and "musts" that may conflict with our innate abilities and capacities. These messages may no longer serve us in adulthood. To live your best, fullest and happiest life, it is worth reflecting on these messages and considering if they are helping or hindering you on your adult journey. Give yourself permission to hardwire new, more favourable messages, that will keep you mentally and physically healthy. Hardwire acceptance that your worth is not conditional and an understanding that "shoulds" and "musts" may hold archaic value that are no longer conducive to the life you want to live.
(For more ways of how to grant yourself permission go to: