Give Yourself Permission

I remember in my early schooling days I would bring a letter (permission slip) in advance to excuse me for missing school due to travel or whatever. It gave me permission to skip school for X days. It felt no less than a superpower to a 10-year-old.

As we grow older, we wait for others to give us a metaphorical permission slip that tells us it’s OK to be ourselves. In other words, we look to get approval from others to accept ourselves. We stop giving ourselves the permission to be who we really are, simply by way of conforming to the world without thinking twice.

The world conditions us to seek permission before we can do something. We seek permission in our lives all the time. For instance, we might seek credentials before we can do a “job”. We might seek permission from those we work for rather than doing the right thing and seeing what happens. Either way, we’ll find out if we should stay in the job or not. We seek the approval of our loved ones to a point where we lose our own identity. We seek external reassurance all the time, because we don’t trust ourselves enough. But reassurance is overrated.

We love to please others at the expense of our own well-being. Much too often, we give in to others’ requests/demands without considering our own desires/needs – this is usually at the cost of our own identity. We even call it “sacrifice”, which if we keep doing, we will regret sooner or later as we are bound to resent it in our closest relationships.

Most of the time, we are afraid of what everyone around us is thinking about us. How many of us live our lives out of the fear of what other people think of us? We care so much what they think that we might as well be mind-robots to them. We live by the narrative of other people in our heads. We let them “run the show” without them even knowing it. We live our lives out of fear based on others’ expectations. We are waiting for others to tell us it’s okay to be ourselves.

Truth be told, we are in the way of our own selves. There is no one stopping us but ourselves. Shocking, I know!

I wrote earlier:

We must give ourselves permission to fail by trying out new things. Unless we do that, we will never come up with anything original. For this reason, organizations have R&D departments where they give themselves the space to try out new things and fail in private. They know it’s the only way they can come up with something truly innovative. We, as individuals, have no such thing in our lives. Why? How else do we grow?

But, here’s the thing. If we want to do something great in life, we need to stop seeking permission. We need to stop caring about what others think. It could be they are holding us back from the person we aspire to be without knowing about it. We need to let go of who we think we are supposed to be in order to become who we really are.

The truth is no one will come and give us the permission we seek. Making any change in life requires us to give ourselves permission and stop seeking validation from others. We need to stop holding onto primitive beliefs that keep us from moving forward. Sometimes, that means casting away old friends and family if/when they inadvertently hold us back. They may project their limiting beliefs onto us about why they can’t do something and tell us the same. We are all impacted by fear, which is okay as long as we don’t let it make our decisions for us.

We don’t have to live our lives based on other peoples’ expectations. We don’t have to justify how we spend our time to anyone. Our time on this earth is ours and ours alone. Let no one tell you otherwise.

We must ask ourselves who we want to be and then do what we need to do to become that person. Stop trying to justify to yourself why you can’t do something and instead look for ways how you can do it.

Richard Feynman said:

You are under no obligation to remain the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or even a day ago. You are here to create yourself, continuously.

While you might feel apologetic, you don’t have anything to apologize for. Stop apologizing and thank others instead. While the former is about us, the latter is about others. For instance, if we are late to a meeting, rather than saying we are sorry for being late and making it about us, we can thank others for being patient.

We need to accept ourselves with all of our flaws/imperfections whilst doing the best we can to improve ourselves by the day.

We could all do well with being less emotional in our lives, but we can learn to show emotions at the right time, which is powerful.

Stop caring about what others think. When we stop caring about how other people view us, we become dangerous. Another thing we can do is keep our Why front and center and let that inform what we do. We must find those who believe in us. This can be a small group of people that we have handpicked ourselves, who act as our support staff, if you will. More often than not, they are our spouses and kids. They believe in what we do and will support us all the way.

Lastly, we need to start giving ourselves permission to do whatever it is we are looking to do before we feel ready. We must not let fear get the better of us because our fears will do everything in their power to keep us “safe”. Fears have the power to paralyze us and prevent us moving forward — we are crippled before we even get started. Remember, progress trumps perfection. This is also consistent with the principle of divergence and convergence.

Give yourself permission to be who you really are. No one is going to give it to you. If that means, abandon friends and family, then so be it. Nothing can/should stop you from being (and doing) your best — period. The only person getting in your way is yourself.

We need to give ourselves permission to be who we really are. Let’s stop seeking reassurance from others and instead learn to trust ourselves. Sometimes that means leaving existing friendships and relationships that get in the way of our growth. We need to stop caring about what others think about us. In any case, we can’t control that, so why bother?! Live life on your own terms. Establish your own boundaries. Stop making other people’s problems your own (because they aren’t). Seek out those who elevate you, and run away from those who bring you down. Life is too short to seek permission from others.

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