What permission do you need to give yourself?

I remember the first time one of my therapists on my treatment team asked me this question:

“What permission do you need to give yourself?”

Say what? Permission. I give myself permission every day, I thought. I don’t know what this lady is talking about.

As she probed a little more, I realized I did need to give myself permission. A lot of permission in fact. I needed to give myself permission to disappoint others. I’d worked so hard to keep a “clean cut” image to everyone that I was killing myself and I hadn’t realized it before this question was asked. I was so busy pleasing others and keeping the image that I excelled at everything asked of me that I didn’t realize I needed permission to disappoint others. I mean really disappoint them. The kind where you get a little uncomfortable at first because you are not used to it kind.

Since then, I’ve disappointed a lot of people. I disappointed my mother earlier this year when I chose to keep the overdue self-care appointment I’d made with myself on her birthday. I did plan to visit her another day. She expected it to be on her birthday though. Sure, there was a bit of guilt on my part and yet not any resentment like I would have had if I cancelled my plans with myself and went to her house instead. Because resentment happens when you live a life of pleasing everyone else but yourself.

I disappointed my boss when she asked me to take on more than I had time to complete in my work week. Sure, I felt a little uncomfortable having the conversation, yet there was no resentment from working longer hours each week because I couldn’t set healthy boundaries with her.

I disappointed my husband when I said no to going out to eat at a restaurant when Covid restrictions were lifted in early June and we could eat inside a restaurant for the first time in three months. It hurt saying no to his excitement, yet there was no resentment for me saying yes to something I didn’t feel comfortable doing. I proposed a homemade picnic outdoors as an alternate, which he declined. It’s okay. No one had any resentments because we didn’t do something we didn’t want to do at that moment.

Most likely, I have disappointed many others since first giving myself permission to do so. And, it’s also likely that I’ve still said yes when I meant to say no because I’m still human and am a recovering people pleaser. It’s going to be a lifelong journey I figure. Because you don’t just wake up one day and are people pleaser free!

What do you need to give yourself permission to do? I’d love to hear in the comments below. And if you’re ready to start on your own journey of saying no to people pleasing and yes to healthy boundaries and self-care, let’s partner together on your journey.

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