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Give Yourself Permission

What is holding you back? Chances are, it’s you: you are holding yourself back.

This isn’t a judgement but the sort of observation that is collective: we all prevent ourselves from doing shit because we “need permission.” This is called the “Permission Gap,” which writer Carl Richards wrote about two months ago in The New York Times.

The irony in this article is that I waited two months to read it, leaving it open in tabs to refresh and refresh and refresh, until I gave myself permission to read an article about giving myself permission to do shit in life. The article isn’t even that revolutionary as Richards tells you what you already know: if you want to do something, do it. If you have an intellectual barrier in your way, flip a coin or do some sort of probability game to give you the definitive yes no one else is going to tell you. Just do it.

This all gets at a need for approval, which Richards pins to the human experience. Change is good but big change is considered a modest taboo hence why big changes are hard to come by.

Seeking approval and external validation is part of the human experience, but when it comes to making a big life change, they can be hard to find. People expect you to stay how you are, to maintain the status quo, to stay the course. And if you get bogged down looking for that affirmation to make a change, you may never make it.

And why will you never find that permission? Because only you can give it to yourself.

Same with my reading this article, same with applying for writing programs, same with planning to move to another city: I’m giving myself permission to do these things. Yet, unlike Richards, it takes time for laypeople like me to figure out the logistical shit like money and jobs before the permission is granted. Perhaps that’s where the gap truly is placed: on you plan before enacting big change. The gap isn’t in “needing permission”: it’s in ensuring that what you permitting is actually a feasible pursuit.

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