Finding fulfillment begins with getting to know yourself a little better and giving yourself permission to seek the things your heart and soul long for.
“Permission. Noun. The right or ability to do something that is given by someone who has the power to decide if it will be allowed or permitted.”
Merriam-Webster has a pretty simple, straight-forward definition of the word permission, right? Throughout our life, we ask for permission from our parents, our boss, our doctor. We even seek permission from society, maybe without even realizing it.
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Permission seemed to be an underlying force in my decision making and how I lived my life and I didn’t even give much thought to it until I read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. I’m also pumped about a new book she has coming out tomorrow, The Four Tendencies.
The tendencies Rubin explained in her book took my understanding of my relationship with permission a little deeper.
I discovered I’m an obliger.
I already recognized the characteristics of an obliger within myself but I never thought about the fact that there was a name for it and I didn’t truly understand the depth and consequences of being an obliger (not that being an obliger is a bad thing). I also learned how my habits and behavior revolved around expectations and permission. I learned about others’ tendencies – questioners, upholders and rebels – and how they view and react to expectations and how that influences relationships among people with different tendencies.
Obligers focus on meeting external expectations but struggle to meet internal expectations. They’re more apt to be motivated by external accountability than by internal accountability. They have trouble telling people “no.” They find it difficult to form habits. They go to great lengths to ensure their responsibilities are fulfilled.
That all rings true for me. At the same time, it seems extremely unfair.
I realized that for the majority of my life, I was expelling my energy to meet external expectations. Acing the college exam because my professor expected me to. Buying certain clothes because society expected me to. The list goes on.
It was stifling, uninspiring and exhausting to live a life according to others’ expectations.
But what about the expectations I had for myself? Why wasn’t I spending my energy on things I wanted to achieve for me? What about living the way I needed and wanted to live in order to truly feel authentic and fulfilled?
Then, one day, I had an epiphany.
I gave myself permission.
I gave myself permission to live my life for me. I gave myself permission to consider and spend time on expectations I have for myself.
How simple is that!
I’m not saying I wouldn’t have studied hard so I could ace the exam or I wouldn’t have bought the clothes, but my focus on why I was making the effort to achieve or acquire those things would have shifted.
I would have still worked hard to ace the exam because that would be affirmation for me that I gained new knowledge. I may have still bought the clothes because they contributed to the presence I wanted to exude.
But my focus would have been on adding value to my life, taking an opportunity to utilize my strengths and gifts, achieving my own outcomes. Not to meet the world’s expectations.
See the difference?
Give yourself permission.
Now, there is something very important to consider when you’re giving yourself permission. Something that is of utmost importance not to do.
Ready for it?
There is no reason to feel guilty for living your life for you.
This is something that took me a while to process and work through, because again, I’m an obliger at my core. Even though I’m an obliger, that doesn’t mean I can’t take the time to fulfill my own expectations for myself and for my life.
Choosing to live your life for you doesn’t mean you’re disregarding your family, it doesn’t mean you’re not fulfilling your responsibilities, it doesn’t mean you’re letting anyone else down. So if guilt makes an appearance, promptly show it to the door.
If I would only focus on living my life for others, I would have never pursued my own side project that allows me to be creative, share my own perspectives, push my growth mindset and be vulnerable; things I need in order to feel like I’m living a fulfilling and authentic life.
So let’s bring this full circle.
If permission is defined by “the right or ability to do something that is given by someone who has the power to decide if it will be allowed or permitted,” who’s to say that someone can’t be you? Give yourself permission to meet your internal expectations. Give yourself permission to embark on your own journey of finding fulfillment.
What do you need to give yourself permission to do to live a fulfilling, authentic life?