In our coaching conversations, there are often recurrent themes and while they may be experienced differently by different individuals, there are definitely links. The one that has come up recently is about permission.
When you consider permission, it is something that we have been conditioned to seek from a very young age; it starts with our parents, carers or elders and the need to have permission to do certain things, then we look to our teachers and then our bosses and authorities to give us permission. Often as adults we continue to look to others even though we’re able and entitled to make our own decisions about what we do and don’t do and accept the consequences. The difference is we don’t always give ourselves permission to make those decisions independently.
Instead, we may do things because we’ve been told to, feel we should or are obliged to, based on a sense of duty or need (our own or others’) which can result over time in feeling guilty if we don’t do it or resentful if we do. Our reasons for doing this may vary but, as with many habitual and often unconscious behaviours, they are based in a belief we have created about the world and our role in it unaware that we can change that at any time.
Using Christmas as an example, we may feel we should accept every invitation, send everyone we know a card or personal greeting, buy the ideal presents for family and friends, catch up with people we haven’t seen for months, create home-baked delights and put on a festive feast. If doing all that makes you feel happy and you can comfortably afford the time, energy and money that it takes then that’s great however if you end up feeling exhausted, edgy and emotionally and financially drained then maybe giving yourself permission to do things differently would help.
Some of the more common areas where we may need to give ourselves permission is to succeed or fail, to be true to who we are, to be happy, to feel bad or down. Permission to take a break, sleep in, take care of you first, laugh or cry, rest or play. Permission to make mistakes, say no, say yes, stop engaging with toxic people, to be honest and ask for what you want. Permission to be imperfect, to stop caring what others think, to speak your truth, to ask for help, to keep Christmas simple or to ignore it altogether, to move on, to start something, change something or stop something.
Looking at some of the suggestions above (no doubt you can come up with more), what three things do you want to give yourself permission to start doing? What three things do you need to give yourself permission to stop doing? Most importantly, when will you do this?
If you are able to identify what to focus on and recognise the value of making the changes then now might be a good time to take action; New Year, fresh start …?