Please don’t ask me where to eat, where to shop or what to buy. Unless I’m faced with a simple yes or no, decisions are tough. I struggle with what to make for breakfast and can’t choose a favourite photo easily. I seek the opinions of others. Their thoughts can overshadow mine. Which is why I and we (you who is reading and noticing similarities) need to stop asking for permission.
Advice we don’t want
When working part-time during college, I collected a small pot of income to spend on clothes. Me and a friend scheduled a shopping spree browsing stores and sampling garments, trying to ensure our miniscule money went towards the best items possible. There was a dress that caught our eye, a midnight blue. Gold beads eclipsed the fabric, which feathered out like a daytime Cinderella.
I knew the dress didn’t have the wow factor after trying. And yet I asked my friend, who boldly declared her adoration. She said I should definitely buy it. Yes, it was £50 – equivalent to a couple of Topshop shirts for college, though it was worth it. I parted with my cash and went home with a dress I never ended up wearing out. A scenario somewhat familiar to my teenage self.
Often when we ask for advice, we are not wanting an opinion. We’re feeling insecure and requesting reassurance. It’s the adult form of a comfort blanket or a scruffy childhood bear. If someone goes against our words, there’s a sense of confusion. Who do we now follow? Do we tell ourselves our thoughts are not good enough, or do we follow them with the alarming fear our judgement is wrong?
Stop asking for permission
A piece by Chris Dessi on Inc.com, details why you need to stop asking for permission. He says you “must obliterate your self-limiting beliefs”. It’s important to live passionately and freely, to produce the best version of you. When I write ‘stop asking for permission’, I’m suggesting you stop letting insecurity, doubt and fear hold you back.
If you feel confident and strongly about something, why does it matter what someone else thinks? Of course, correctly applied advice is substantially gainful. Querying a recruiter whether a CV is properly formatted; asking a successful author the best ways to start a book – relevant information. I believe reading as many opinions possible is undoubtedly valuable. Questioning yourself and needing another to make you feel okay however, is at times damaging.
I know because I’m a dependant queen. I’ve made it a habit to collect the comments of others, even when I’m most resourceful. I can have the greater knowledge, insight and experience and still rely on a person who has never given a matter much thought. Then my insecurity will tell me I’m in the wrong. What do I know? Advice becomes disadvantageous. If you don’t follow your gut and have courage to stick to your ideas, how do you develop?
Stop asking for permission when you know the answers
Most are guilty of phoning a friend and telling them how badly their partner’s have acted. How they’ve given up with effort and made them feel like a worthless piece of mud clinging to the sole of a shoe. Inside, their hearts are screaming to let go. They share all on the phone and then whisper, “do you think it’s worth staying?” Hoping they’re wrong and someone else will reimburse magic in their fairy-tale minds. I get it, it feels like the final curtain call needed to make an upsetting decision.
What if that phone call didn’t happen? What if every time your instinct told you something and your insecurity turned on its emergency alarm, you switched off the alarm and followed your gut? Would you make numerous disastrous mistakes, or would you learn to trust yourself? No amount of advice stops reality – we’ll always make mistakes regardless.
Why not make our own mistakes and our own successes. A family member tried to take credit for good work I created. They played an active role in my embryonic planning. Which granted, is equivalent to taking responsibility for a tree being planted. A tree that then goes on to grow and flourish from other sources. Your parents can credit your existence, but they can’t take accountability for every moment of accomplishment, particularly if they don’t account for your failures.
Research inspected by digital publication Hey Sigmund, concludes “anxiety selectively shuts down certain connections, making it more difficult for the brain to screen out irrelevant information and make better decisions.” It’s hard to stop asking for permission when anxiety makes you feel as though you’re sinking in quicksand.
Hey Sigmund provides a number of helpful tips to decrease anxiety from intruding, such as shifting focus. As anxiety typically presents a list of worst outcomes, writing or picturing the most positive case scenarios usually helps a person relax. It’s a skill requiring generous amounts of practice.
The decisions made by myself have always paid off. I regret nothing. I’m Frank Sinatra singing My Way. I occasionally ought to remember my capabilities and welcome the failures caused by bad decision-making. It’s called life – asking others to live it for me is almost throwing it away. Do you agree?