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Give yourself permission to make a difference

Mar 23, 2022 | Insights

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Giving yourself permission helps you overcome internal resistance, get the most out of something and live life with integrity and purpose.
I have a personal “rule”: I will be at my desk in the morning when I work and think well.

So, what happens when, like last week, the rain stops, the sun comes out, and a friend suggests a long walk in the morning?

The answer is that life is short; it’s a great idea, so let’s do it.

However, something more subtle is taking place in my brain. I am giving myself permission to break my own rules.

Break your own rules

“Giving yourself permission” to do something does not just apply to your day-to-day rules. You live in a world bound by rules, so it is imperative to permit yourself to make a difference – and probably be different.

Many rules serve a valuable purpose. For instance, “giving yourself permission” to drive on the right-hand side of the road instead of the left decreed by the UK’s Highway Code, will be a disaster.

Other rules have less to do with safety and more with ‘normality’. And normal behaviour may not necessarily serve your purpose.

Write yourself a permission slip

The pressure to conform to conventions and customs is powerful. One way to break this hold is to permit yourself to do something out of the ordinary. In other words, you write yourself a permission slip.

This morning, I give myself permission to leave my desk and go for a walk.

Permission slips also help you get the most out of a project or a task. So, even though you know you have a deadline to meet, it might be constructive to “give yourself permission” to spend a couple of hours reading around an idea or researching a subject.

As coaches, we often have to give ourselves permission to stay curious and open and not press for an answer. We permit ourselves to “stay with the not knowing”.

Give yourself permission to be you

Giving yourself permission is a powerful tool in your armoury when changing or letting go of bad habits, especially if it makes your behaviour seem more positive.

For instance, you decide to go to the gym regularly to get fit. However, you will encounter internal resistance to doing this. It could come in many forms: “I haven’t got time”, “I haven’t got the right kit”, “I’ll be embarrassed”. Giving yourself written permission to go to the gym can overcome these resistances.

You can also use permission slips to “re-phrase” a situation. For example, you decide to give up eating biscuits to improve your health. The alternative, permission-based and more positive approach is to give yourself permission to eat biscuits at the weekend.Giving yourself permission to do something is a powerful way of overcoming resistance, getting the most out of something and living life with integrity and purpose.

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