Ever since we are children, we are socialized and programmed to ask for permission. We must raise our hands to go to the bathroom at school. We need permission slips before we go on class trips.
As we get older we still find ourselves asking for permission. We want confirmation that we are making the right decision. Think about it, maybe you’ve asked you parents for their opinion on:
– What major you should choose in college?
– What you should be when you grow up?
– Which job offer you should accept?
– Whether you should move to another state or country?
– Whether you should buy a home?
– Whether you should marry him or her?
– Whether they think its a good idea for you to have a kid now?
But in reality, we want their approval. We are seeking their permission to do these things.
Why are we constantly seeking permission and approval? Part of it is that as I’ve mentioned we’ve been conditioned to. Part of it is that we secretly want direction and to be led. We want someone to assure us that we are making the right decision and that we are heading down the right path.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with seeking someones advice or tapping into their expertise.
But asking for permission and always seeking validation can be crippling. It can make us less decisive. Worst, it can lead us to make decisions based on what others want and to lose site of what we really want. When we ask for permission we are unconsciously trying to avoid taking full responsibility for the consequences that result from our decisions. In other words, if we make a decision and we experience a negative outcome, we have someone else to blame if they played a role in our decision making process. People who seek permission struggle with psychological autonomy and personal authority. They rely so heavily on others to endorse their ideas that they can barely locate their inner voice.
At the end of the day, the only opinion that should matter is our own. There is a great quote from “Think and Grow Rich” that helps put this into perspective: “Close friends and relatives, while not meaning to do so, often handicap one through “opinions” and sometimes through ridicule, which is meant to be humorous. Thousands of men and women cary inferriority complexes with them all through life because some well-meaning but ignorant person destroyed their confidence through “opinions” or ridicule. You have a brain and mind of your own. Use it, and reach your own decisions.”
If you are someone who is constantly relying on the opinions of others to make a decision, try to catch yourself in the act. Start using your mastermind to acquire facts or information. Even though you are gathering information to make an informed decision you don’t necessarily need to disclose the purpose behind why your are compiling these facts. In other words, try to acquire objective information and then make your own decision.
Challenge yourself to make a decision completely on your own. When do you typically involve others in your decision making? Is it when you are buying that outfit or sending that text? Start by choosing something “small” if you’d like and then work your way up to a decision you feel is more significant. How did it feel to make your own decision? How did it turn out?
When you make your own decision it is empowering and liberating. We often have a gut feeling or inner voice that is leaning towards making one decision over another. The more you begin to make your own decisions the more your inner voice will start to amplify. As with all things, you get better with practice.
If you are still struggling to determine why you should make your own decisions, I will leave you with this question. What would you do if you didn’t care about what others thought of you or your decisions?