When it comes to living a life true to yourself, there is nothing more liberating than discovering that you don’t have to ask anybody for permission. This has been a huge thing for me, and I’m sure that there are many people who are unhappy for this very reason.
As we grow up, we are constantly told, or given the message that we must ask for permission before we do anything. At school we have to put our hand up if we want to go to the toilet, at home we must ask if we want something to eat. Even when we get to work, there are lots of rules and regulations we must adhere to that require us to ask before we can make decisions.
Throughout the last couple of years, I have discovered that I am a people pleaser and need to ask for permission or reassurance for absolutely everything. I’m always checking to make sure what I’m doing is the right thing. In other words, I seek validation and permission from others to prove I’m doing a good job. This belief can be so limiting and has, in the past, prevented me from pursuing my goals.
What’s even more scary, is that we sometimes don’t even ask the question, but instead, just assume that permission wouldn’t be given. This pattern of self-sabotage is crazy and can stop you from doing so many things. When I met my partner, I automatically let him become the decision maker because he made more money than me, and had more self- confidence. I decided that I didn’t have the right to an opinion or make decisions on important family issues. When we planned holidays or house improvements and he asked for my input, I was reluctant to give it. I felt cheeky when I didn’t feel I contributed enough in the first place. This can be very disempowering, but it can also be very frustrating for the other person who feels the pressure of having to make all the decisions.
You are in the best position to make decisions about your own life, and if you pass this responsibility on to other people, resentment will build up and relationships will be damaged. You don’t want to look back on your life and realise that you lived by someone else’s rules!
One way I found to help overcome this is to ask yourself the question, “What if there was nobody to ask permission from? What would I do if I had to make this decision all by myself?”. For example, I decided that I wanted to create a website to help me share some guided visualisations I had recorded. I was really excited about this as I believed I had developed something completely unique and incredibly useful. The problem was that I had spent many hours trying to get my head around WordPress and how to set up a website. I had lots of ideas for the design but absolutely no idea about the technical side of things. I was really struggling to make sense of it all and the whole process was draining all my enthusiasm.
I had a little money in my savings account, but it didn’t occur to me for a long time that I could use this money to put towards my idea. It seemed selfish to spend money on something that was my own personal project and had no guarantee of working.
Finally, I decided that I had enough confidence in what I was doing to justify spending some of my savings on a web designer. My next thought however was how I would justify this to other people. I immediately started rehearsing how I was going to ask for permission. I know that if my partner had been disapproving, or didn’t share my confidence, I would have shelved the whole project and my great idea would not have progressed any further, even though I’d already spent so much time developing the products.
Since then, I have decided to ask myself for permission first, rather than pass the responsibility onto someone else. At the end of the day, I believe that this need for reassurance often comes down to lack of self-belief. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect other people to? When I have an idea, I try to think about the steps I need to take in order to take it forward. Will it require time, money, resources etc. and am I willing to invest those things. If the answer is yes, then I give myself permission to go for it!
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that I don’t get other people involved, or discuss the impact it might have on my family or friends, but I phrase things in a slightly different way now. Instead of, ‘Do you think it would be OK if…?’ I say, ‘I really need to take this step to get closer to my goal, how can we best make this work?’. Not only does this feel incredibly empowering, it also fills the other person with confidence that you know exactly what you need to do, and you are willing to put the effort in to get it done.
No-one should have to ask permission to create an amazing life, and no-one wants to come to the end of their life with regret and resentment because they let other people make all their decisions.
Think of something that you want to do or achieve in your life be it big or small. Do your research and think through all the implications for you and others. If you decide that you want to go ahead, and it will not harm anyone, trust your own judgement and don’t ask permission. Feel free to discuss it with others and seek their opinions, but ultimately go with what is right for you.