A Beginner's Guide to Giving Yourself Permission
When giving advice to friends, it’s so easy to say things like: “You’ve got this," “Just go for it," “You deserve better," and so forth.
Yet, have you ever noticed that when it's time to give ourselves the same energy, we become less inclined?
You’re not alone. For a lot of us, it’s difficult to give ourselves permission to go for what we want and know we deserve.
This hesitance to give ourselves permission is often deeply rooted in self-belief and can be swayed by our internal self-doubt.
But what if we did give ourselves permission—and opened ourselves up to the potential of our greatness? Hint: We'd create more space for things to happen.
“When you give yourself permission, you are able to enjoy the fruits of your labor," Nedra Tawwab, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., a therapist, tells Shine. "Permission says that you are open to the possibility of positive things happening. Without permission, there is no growth."
We tend to allow outside factors, such as lack of experience or resources, hold us back from making life-changing decisions. But all we’re really waiting for is that greenlight—that permission, to get started or take action. And though we may look for it from others, the best source is ourselves and doing what our gut tells us is necessary.
Imposter syndrome, Tawwab adds, is one of the reasons some of us find it difficult to give ourselves permission. She describes it as “the inability to accept your greatness,” which can, in turn, limit your ability to truly enjoy life.
Sometimes, permission isn’t all about the large-scale changes and can be as simple as allowing yourself to feel. When we give ourselves the space to acknowledge that we aren’t happy or satisfied in a current situation, it opens up the possibility for change. Simply saying to yourself, “I am unhappy right now,” instead of fighting it, can take some of the pressure off and give you room to develop a plan of action to change that.
So, how can you practice giving yourself permission on a regular basis? Tawwab says to focus on these three things:
Grant yourself the compassion and understanding you extend to others so easily.
Similar to the example made earlier, we’re more willing to give our friends and loved ones encouragement and permission to take the next step. It’s important to also give yourself that same consideration, too. You may not always succeed, but by putting yourself out there you’ll get closer to your goals.
Praise your small wins and notice your baby steps toward change.
There’s power in the journey. We tend to get so wrapped up in the destination, that we don’t focus on the strides we’re making along the way.
By giving yourself permission to celebrate your small wins, you’re reinforcing that you are enough.
Remove your ideas about how things are supposed to show up for you.
We often get caught up in what the potential outcome of situations will be, which can lead us to not getting started or being disappointed if it doesn’t go exactly as planned. This kind of fortune-telling, Tawwab says, "will hold you back from getting the very things that are good for you."
It’s important to hold off on any predictions and instead lead with self-belief. When you let go of what you think will happen, you give yourself permission to see what happens—and that openness and self-trust can unlock so many doors. Then: All you have to do is give yourself permission to walk through them.
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