My almost five-year-old asks for permission to do pretty much everything. (Case in point: she just asked me if she could use paper from her own art cupboard for a project.)
I’m grateful that she’s a rule follower, really I am. But her habit of asking for permission for everything also drives me crazy because I want her to be able to give herself permission. I want her to do things without waiting for the green light from me. And I want her to grow up to be a strong woman who goes after what she wants instead of waiting for someone else to tell her it’s ok.
But mostly, this habit bothers me because I have a hunch that my daughter learned this behavior by observing me during my first few years as a mom.
Back then, I felt like I needed to ask everyone else for permission to do things for myself. Because suddenly I had this very big responsibility and this little girl to take care of and I felt like someone needed to say it was ok to take time for myself, to spend money on me or to stop waiting to find my path outside of being a mom. But I quickly found out that even when other people gave me the go-ahead, I still couldn’t take action.
That’s because the person I needed permission from the very most was me.
If I was going to create the life I wanted for myself and my family, I knew things had to change. I knew that I needed to give myself permission to prioritize me. I needed to give myself permission to ask for help to make more time for myself as an individual. I needed to decide for myself that it was ok to explore my own interests without giving in to mom guilt.
And I needed to give myself permission to admit that I wanted to be more than a mom.
It wasn’t easy but after I drew that line in the sand, things started to change. That’s when I stopped looking outside myself for permission. That’s when I stopped asking other people if it was ok to take care of me. And that’s when I started taking action to find my purpose so I could define myself outside my life as a mom.
If you’re having a hard time taking action, I want you to know that you too can give yourself permission to do the thing (or things) you want to do. It’s an incredibly empowering and important step to take if you want to create change in your life. And it’s especially important if you’re feeling stuck and are waiting for someone else to give you permission to go searching for your purpose beyond motherhood.
The question you’re probably asking now is, how?
You’re going to do it by using a simple exercise from author and researcher Brené Brown. (And if you don't know who that is, please check out her work. It's life-changing, and I don't say that lightly.)
First, you need to ask yourself this question: If I really want to find fulfillment outside of motherhood, what do I need to give myself permission to do or stop doing? Then write down your answer and post your "permission slip" where you’ll see it often.
Then you have to do the thing you gave yourself permission to do. That might seem like the most challenging part but, in truth, you’ve already taken the first – and often the hardest – step.
To believing your time is now,
P.S. If you’ve taken my free online class More Than a Mom: 3 Steps to Find Your Purpose Beyond Motherhood, you’ve likely already started writing your permission slip. Make sure to shoot me an email or post a comment here and tell me how it’s going for you. Really, I want to know. (And if you haven’t taken the class yet, you can CLICK HERE to get instant access to it. And please feel free to share it with a friend.)