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Give Yourself Permission

I’ve been mulling this topic over for some time now because of how often I see women telling themselves No, telling themselves that it’s not okay to give themselves permission.


This is really about how women are socially primed to prioritize other people’s opinions over their own.   


And whenever I bring this up with clients, the minute we start talking about it, there’s the resistance – the belief that if we put our own ideas and opinions in the forefront over others, then we’ll be perceived as selfish. If we give ourselves permission, then we’ll turn into jerks and have kind of a ‘screw you’ mentality.


No. This is not how it has to go. It is not an either/or discussion about whether you are selfish or whether you are altruistic. It’s about giving yourself permission to be both whenever you decide to – simply because you believe in your ability to be your own authority.


Most of us on default are doing the opposite, giving our personal authority away to other people because we’re trying to manage other people’s opinions about us.


Our bosses, our spouses, our friends, our in-laws,


But I want to teach you the principle of giving yourself permission – so you can shift your energy from valuing other people’s opinion over what you think of yourself. I have six areas I want to focus on with this principle. So let’s dive in.


#1 - Give yourself permission to compliment yourself and celebrate small wins.

Most of us rely on other people to validate us.

It’s nice to receive a compliment from someone else, especially if you are a ‘words of affirmation’ love language type of person, like I am.


Did you know that it’s okay to love on yourself and to give yourself your own compliment? We’re taught that we shouldn’t toot our own horn, that it’s morally virtuous to be humble – and yes, those things have their place.


I’m not talking about being a “me monster” in conversation with other people. Where all you do is talk about yourself and brag. I don’t know very many women who do this, so it isn’t really a concern, but if your brain went there, to that extreme, when I said that it’s okay to love on yourself and give yourself a compliment – just notice that. Notice how the brain likes to come up with extremes versus finding the middle ground.


The middle ground I’m talking about is the inner dialogue you have with yourself and whether or not you feed your mind with compliments, or if there is a tendency to only feed your mind with criticisms.


If you don’t intentionally intervene, then your brain will only offer up criticisms and tell you all the ways you can improve, all the things you are doing wrong, and all the ways other people are doing it better.


This is the brain on default, operating from its negativity bias. Did you know that the brain operates on a negativity bias? Why is that?


I think it has to do with how the human species evolved. It’s always been imperative that we pay attention to how we can improve and do better in order to survive. We needed to pay attention to our mistakes and our pain and we needed to do everything we could to avoid pain and mistakes because in the past, that’s what kept us alive as a species. Mistakes could mean the difference between life or death.


If we were out in the wilderness, and we got sick from eating a certain plant or a certain type of berry, our brain would remember that and offer up how to avoid ever doing that again, to remember the pain of being sick, maybe we almost died, and so your brain is going to almost always overemphasize mistakes that led to pain, and what led up to it and remember mistakes and short-comings in an effort to protect you.


So this is really good to know. If we can take that into account, then we can intentionally cultivate focusing on the good about ourselves to balance out the negativity bias.


It’s about redirecting your thinking to notice the positive in yourself on purpose. Give yourself more compliments. Maybe you’ve heard of the practice of keeping a Gratitude Journal, that’s a beautiful practice.


You could also start a practice of a Compliment Journal, where you notice the things you’ve done well throughout the day, things that you are proud of yourself for. Write down three things. Do it for a week and see if you notice a difference in how you feel about yourself.


One of my Life Coach friends and I started a text thread where we send each other a text and brag about how awesome we are, each day. You heard me right. We brag about ourselves on purpose.


We give ourselves permission to brag about ourselves to each other. And it’s really fun to read her texts. She says it’s fun to read mine. And we congratulate each other as well. We’re doing this on purpose to see if we can access that feeling of liking ourselves more often.


And so I’m inviting you my friends to give yourself permission to give a compliment to You. Celebrate small wins that you are proud of yourself for. Maybe you folded some laundry. Or took a nap. Or cleaned out the fridge. Or went a walk and listened to a podcast. J Congratulate yourself for being awesome, for doing something awesome, and do this one with intention and enthusiasm. Bonus if you find a friend to share this podcast with, and do the brag text exchange with.


It’s super fun and I highly recommend you try it.


#2 - Give yourself permission to stop people-pleasing and to tell the whole truth.


The reason I want to offer to you that you can give yourself permission to drop the people-pleasing, is because I see how it is causing you to feel terrible. It is messing with your happiness. And I coach women on this tendency all the time.


We all have the desire to be liked. Most of us have the desire to be perceived as ‘nice’ and ‘agreeable’ and to be ‘giving’ and not be seen as selfish.


These desires are not all bad. I think successful societies are built on thinking about others and trying to be helpful and loving and giving. But where is the line? How do you draw your own personal line between always deferring to what other people want and expect, and what you realistically have to give?


Give yourself permission to say No sometimes, to speak your truth, to pull back if you need to, and to shift the energy of resentment that might be building up after years of people-pleasing.


Give yourself permission to find and use your voice to communicate what you really want and need and to stop shutting those things down.


Here’s a personal example:


For me, Being able to say to the cub scout master, when my boys were younger, saying, cubmaster: “I love how hard you work, and I appreciate you doing this for the kids, but right now, my boys - we aren’t really into cub scouts for whatever reason - and we’re going to pull out of the scout-a-rama shindig this weekend because we need some down time, and I’m worried you’ll feel like I’m not supportive or appreciative, but the truth is that weekend doesn’t work for us with everything else that’s been going on.”


I used to do this thing a lot with my church community, say Yes to things I hated. I kind of hated the whole scouts pack meetings, and so I bring that up as example – I had a lot of resentment towards scouts, and I was people-pleasing. I had to learn to tap into what felt most loving for everyone in the story on a deeper level.


What felt most loving for my boys, myself, and the cub scout master?


It felt most loving to tell the cub scout master the whole truth.


It felt so good to own my truth here, to finally speak up and stop worrying about what everyone would think if I didn’t support the program, and the relief was such a gift.


Give yourself permission to say No to the things you aren’t in integrity with because you’re worried about what other people will think.


This can be a powerful shift in your personal well-being and in your happiness my friends.


# 3:  Give yourself permission to respect and (gasp) even enjoy your body as it is - and stop always thinking about losing weight all the time.


This one is really amazing if you will do it, if you will try it. Will there ever come a time when you don’t worry about your body and your weight and your body image?


Wouldn’t that be nice? And so why not just decide to now?


Because you’re worried you’ll let yourself go?


I want to offer to you that No, you won’t just let yourself go. You’ll actually start enjoying yourself again.


I think most of us as women think about weightloss a lot, and I know from talking to women all day in my coaching practice about self-improvement and goals and then also working in the health and wellness industry for over twenty years as a yoga and pilates instructor, women are constantly thinking about body image.


Give yourself permission to take a break from it for a season. You decide how long the season is. Maybe it’s for a couple hours. Maybe a couple days. Maybe a couple weeks, or months or years.


Our brains only have so much capacity for focused attention. And how much of that capacity, that band-width is being used up on wishing and wanting and trying to lose weight. And I mean all.the.time.


Do you ever have periods where you aren’t thinking about it? It’s a good question to ask yourself.


And if you don’t, then I would invite you to give yourself permission to focus on something else other than losing weight or changing your body.


You are so much more than your body. You are so much more than your eating protocol. and our bodies are gifts that are meant to be enjoyed as a tool to go through life with – not to be used against ourselves as a tool for how we don’t measure up.


Give yourself permission to be different in this regard, to go against the social norm and the cultural narrative that your body defines your self-worth. All of that is false.


I’m not saying to turn a blind eye to taking care of yourself. But give yourself permission to enjoy taking care of yourself instead of making it hard or painful or punishing.


Be nice to yourself with how you treat your body and your food intake and honoring your hunger and honoring your fullness.


Give yourself permission to enjoy your body, to enjoy food and trust yourself with eating when you are hungry, stopping when you are full, and knowing how to nourish and nurture yourself with food and nutrition.


Restriction and deprivation cause all kinds of problems with losing the ability to be our own authority. Constantly telling ourselves no, no, no you aren’t allowed to eat what you really want – that is the opposite of giving yourself permission. And your spirit might be starting to feel rebellious inside if you are doing that to yourself.


You might think that telling yourself no is the only way to achieving your goals, but I’m here to tell you that the opposite is true. Telling yourself yes is a beautiful way to bypass the rebellioin/self-loathing/never good-enough cycle to accessing a place where you enjoy being yourself / you trust yourself/ and you free up all the mental band-width that is spent on managing weight loss and  body image.


It starts with giving yourself permission to do it your own way. To ask yourself what it is you really want, how you really want to feel, and what you would need to think about yourself in order to feel more loving and gracious toward yourself.


This shift is powerful. If you want help with it, more support on how to do it, reach out for coaching, because this is what I’m really good at. I help women heal their self-talk and become their own authority – which is a beautiful way to go through life my friends.


# 5 – Be your own authority in regards to realistic beauty standards


I recently had an interesting reaction to a social media post that brought up all the feels inside of me of how whacked our culture is about beauty standards.


I follow an amazing woman on Instagram who is a dietician for women who are recovered from eating disorders, which did you know that one in four dieters go on and develop an eating disorder? 25% I am not okay with that number.


One of the coolest things about dietician Anna is that she’s an amazing example of what is possible with respecting where you are given the body you’ve been given. She is disabled, lives in a wheelchair and talks about her struggles and her triumphs in a real way. She helps women recovering from eating disorders, which is not easy.


She shows up more powerfully owning her experience in a disabled body, and being an example with enjoying her body, moreso than most of us who aren’t disabled.


But dietician Anna recently posted about Gwyneth Paltrow, who is my same age by the way, and I love Gwyneth’s acting and her persona in movies. But her real life stuff, her health and wellness stuff does not resonate with me.


And recently Gwyneth promoted a new term in her book, called ‘intuitive fasting’ and Dietician Anna called her out and said, you know what Gwyneth? There’s no such thing as intuitive fasting. You are making that up, calling yourself a health guru, and actually perpetuating some harm in the name of health and wellness, and telling people that they can starve themselves into a recharged metabolism.


Actually the opposite is true. When you force the body to fast, when you starve the body on purpose, you do more harm for your metabolism.


But how many of us who look up to Gwyneth and admire her for her beauty and health and wellness, just take her word for it?


Why are we giving Gwyneth our personal authority over beauty standards? Is it realistic?


She has a whole slew of resources that most of us don’t have access to – her standard for beauty is going to look different than ours.


And that’s ok. It should look different.


Dietician Anna was having none of it. She works with women who this very message has really messed with and done a number on their health and well- being.


It was bold of Anna to call Gwyneth out. And it reinforced to me that idea that we give our authority of what is beautiful away to people who we shouldn’t give that kind of authority or power to.


Does Gwyneth really care about my health or your health? Or does she care about sales for her Goop product lines and network.


We do this as women – we look to doctors and people in the beauty industry who appeal to our insecurities.


Gwyneth is using the word ‘intuitive’ incorrectly.


Fasting is not intuitive.


It feels wrong to hear her promote that because it is wrong.


I get that intermittent fasting can have some benefits to some people’s health. But that’s a fine line to walk.


Adolescents and women in their child-bearing years do not need to be intermittent fasting.


And intuitive fasting is not a real thing.


I’ve decided to give myself permission to define what is beautiful on my own terms. And I’m not going to starve and restrict and deprive myself, or allow Gwyneth to tell me how to be beautiful anymore.


Who do you look up to that is messing with your ability to intuitively define what beauty looks like for yourself?


My definition of beauty, It looks different than the air brushed magazines.


I’m becoming more discerning. I’m becoming more aware.


I hope you’ll give yourself permission to do the same for yourself.


#6 - Give yourself permission to want more.


This one hits close to home for me. I used to shut down my wanting. I used to tell myself that Desire was a little selfish and I should be grateful for what I have. 


What I didn’t realize I was doing was shutting down my gifts and the call inside of me for growth.


What does it mean to ‘want’?


Wanting can mean anything we assign value to- whether it means to achieve something, acquire something, or experience something.


Wanting can feel inspiring and invigorating for some people. And for others, it can have all this negative connotation. I believe it depends on what is fueling it.


If I want to be successful for example, is that fueled from a place of service ? If so, that is very different than wanting to be successful fueled from a place of greed and ego.


And so  what I’m talking about here is that a lot of us are confused about wanting because we don’t know how to distinguish the difference between the energy behind what is fueling it.


If we can  get clear on the reasons  we want more, and like our reasons, I see no reason to hold yourself back from  wanting.


But what often happens, is we don’t make it that far, we don’t discern or create the awareness around the fuel that is driving our wants.


Give yourself permission to want and then create the awareness of what it is that is fueling the want.


I want to help as many women in my coaching business as possible because I know my program changes lives, which therefor changes their children’s lives and so on, and creates this amazing ripple effect. That is deeply gratifying to me.


If I were only in this for the money, then I’d be in trouble. Why? Because the fuel driving my coaching business would be all about me instead of the people I want to serve.


Wanting, the desire for more, whatever it is you want, the first step is to give yourself permission to want.


What is it you really want?


And what is the fuel that is driving that want?


Sometimes, the religious traditions and faith traditions of  different cultures will teach that wanting is wrong – but I think we misunderstand these teachings and take them out of context.


What would the world be like if all of us shut down our wants and our desires? It would be boring. There would be no growth. No forward movement, just stagnation.


It is okay to want. It is more than okay to want. I’m so grateful to women who want more. Women who wanted the right to vote. Women who wanted to build businesses and raise children; who wanted to write books and paint artwork and build rockets (looking at you Hidden Figures ladies) and design and redecorate their spaces and so on. There’s so much to be grateful for here.


It’s easy to lose sight of what you want if you are in the thick of taking care of other people. I get it.


It might be a little intimidating to give yourself permission to want, and you might have a tendency to try and justify your wants – but don’t do this. Don’t try to over rationalize what it is you want.


Our wants are what give our life meaning.


You’re just allowed to want simply because wanting will give your life meaning.


Give yourself permission to get clear on what it is you want and then get after it my friend.


You can do this un-apologetically.


The more you honor what it is you really want, the more the Universe will conspire to give you what you want.


I know that sounds a little like woo, but it’s not. I don’t know how the principle works scientifically, I just know that the Universe is listening. And when you step into the belief that your wants matter, doors open.


Not giving yourself permission is not a fun way to live. It might feel like you are being virtuous in some ways, but it’s actually the quicksand trap of death. When you don’t give yourself permission to


  • give yourself a compliment and celebrate small wins:
  • tell the whole truth and stop people-pleasing
  • to respect and (gasp) even enjoy your body as it is - and stop always thinking about losing weight all the time.
  • be your own authority in regards to realistic beauty standards
  • and to want more,


then it makes sense why you feel dragged down and defeated as if you’re drowning in quicksand and unfulfilled.


You get to decide whether you are going to give yourself permission or not. No one else is going to do it for you.


You get to step into the energy of deciding for yourself what it means to be your own authority with


  • liking yourself
  • telling the whole truth
  • respecting and enjoying your body regardless of its size
  • defining realistic beauty standards for yourself
  • and honoring your wants and desires.


Other people can try to do this for you, but they will be terrible at it, and you will not know what it means to like yourself if you give them this kind of power.


It is normal to give other people this kind of power over us.


But let’s be honest, does it make you happy? Are you happy caring more about what other people think than what you think?


And, to take it a step further, do you realize that you are just making up what you think other people are thinking of you, and that if you really knew, you’d be surprised at how wrong you are about what you think they are thinking?


Give yourself permission to be You.


You are you for a reason.


The only kind of me I want to be is the kind of me that says Yes to who I really am, not a pretend version of me.


Go ahead and give yourself permission.


It feels amazing.


Have a beautiful day.


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