You’re Looking in the Wrong Place for Permission to be Happy

Dear Me, Myself and I,

When it comes to happiness, you don’t need permission from others. Okay, at first glance that’s confusing. Even further, it challenges one of the fundamentals of your childhood. permission to jump in an x-wing and blow something upAs kids, you needed permission for everything: Permission to go to a friend’s house, permission to answer a question, permission to play with your sibling’s toys. Even later in life, the instinct to seek permission never really goes away. If anything, you ask for permission more frequently and in a number of different ways. May I borrow your pen? Would you go on a date with me?  Do you mind if I sit here? Boss, can I take a day off? See what I mean? Don’t get me wrong; this is not entirely bad. Asking for permission is polite, kind, and courteous.

However, you are so accustomed to seeking permission from others that you instinctually believe you need permission from someone when it comes to anything affecting yourself. All of the examples above affect other people directly, whether it be your parents, teachers, siblings, fellow students, friends, strangers, or employers. It is in these cases that seeking permission is most appropriate and beneficial. But when it comes to chasing your dreams and your happiness, you don’t need someone else’s permission. You and only you can give yourself that permission.

this is my decision not yours

Does that make sense? Do you see why I wanted to talk to you about this today? You have so many dreams that you could be chasing, but you’re too busy looking for permission from the wrong people. Don’t believe me? When you think about your dreams, you automatically seek permission from others to validate them. When you wanted to be a writer, you would show your work to others. If they didn’t like it, you scrapped the dream. No more being a writer. And don’t forget the struggle you went through in deciding to go to law school and chase a dream that differed from what you believed to be your family’s wishes.

let's just think about the logic, let's just think about it for a second

There is a difference between seeking permission and considering someone's opinion, and it is easy to confuse the two. When you seek permission from someone about your happiness, you are giving that person some if not all of the control in making the decision. Regardless of what you decide, you have effectively given them veto power. Over your happiness. That doesn’t make sense, does it?On the other hand, having discussions and gaining feedback from others is smart. It allows you to make an informed decision while maintaining the control to make that decision. Don’t get it twisted though. You should take into account what your family thinks by talking to them and not just assuming you know what they think. But ultimately, the only one who should be giving the permission and making the decisions is you.

permission grantedRemember how happy you were when you finally gave yourself permission to write? How about when you finally spoke to your family and realized that they just wanted you to be happy and would support you regardless. At the end of the day, it’s called “your dreams” not “their dreams.” It’s important that you make your life decisions with this reality in mind.

Of course, this is much easier said than done. If it were a simple problem to fix, I wouldn’t have to write you this letter. Overcoming this desire to be validated will take time and effort. But if you ever forget why it’s so important, just read this letter again. =)


Your inner voice

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