Do I need permission for this?

cat reading a book

Do you have permission?

Where’s your permission slip?

Who told you you could do that? 

What qualifies you to do that?

For many of us, “permission” is a loaded word. As kids, we had to ask permission for everything. As adults, we often still seek others’ opinions on whether we “should” do something, looking for their insight and permission in a way. This can make setting boundaries complicated.

Being unable to say “no” stems from believing you need external permission. You have trouble trusting your own judgment. At work, you take on extra tasks without considering bandwidth. In relationships, you submit to a partner’s wants, burying your own needs. With friends, you accept plans when you need a quiet night.

You want to say no but fear backlash. What if they get angry? Think you’re difficult? Stop liking you? This “people pleasing” may have roots in childhood when you were taught to obey authority and avoid conflict by being “easygoing,” even if it meant losing touch with your own voice.

Unlearning this takes courage but is worthwhile. Start small, saying no to minor asks when your gut tightens. Notice nothing catastrophic happens. Over time, build to bigger boundaries. It may feel awkward but gets easier. 

The more you voice your needs, the more you realize relationships can withstand it. Saying no is self-care, ensuring you don’t run yourself ragged meeting others’ needs. You have permission to set limits and take up space. The right people will understand. Give yourself permission first.

Here are some permissions to give yourself that can make your experience of life more fulfilling:

  • Rest without guilt.
  • Say “no” without explaining. Prioritize you.
  • Spend money on things important to you, within budget. Enjoy life.
  • Take risks and make mistakes. Failure brings growth.
  • Walk away from toxicity. You deserve peace.
  • Ask for help. You don’t have to do everything solo.
  • Feel your feelings, even “hurtful” ones.
  • Set boundaries. Listen to your limits.
  • Celebrate wins big and small. Recognize your achievements.
  • Take up space. You deserve to be seen and heard.

You have permission to put yourself first!

. . .

Brian has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and is the father of three boys with Autism and ADHD. After receiving the same diagnoses himself, he went on to write 5 books and become a recognized specialist in the field. With a unique approach to helping parents and educators connect with their children who live with these unique challenges, Brian’s captivating, interactive presentations and programs continue to change lives around the world. His message of self-compassion, resilience and the importance of working together is one we all need to hear. You can see all the exciting things Brian is up to at

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