Who’s Permission do you Need?

I’ve been reading the the book “The Little Book of Stress Relief” written by David Posen, M.D and find it a really insightful book. One chapter had a really interesting idea which I want to share with others. It’s about… (wait for it) … PERMISSION.


There was a woman who was very stressed out because she had to look after her family, had a full-time job, as well as part-time work. She asked an expert about her dilemma and the answer was, “You must be more efficient.” The woman was really depressed to hear that.

In fact, inside her she knew what she wanted to do – she wanted to stop her part-time work, cut down her hours at work and spend more time with her family. She then talked to Dr. Posen, the author of the book who first asked her what she wanted to do about her dilemma. He first identified with her situation and empathized with her that she indeed had been doing too much and stopping the part-time work and working less hours was actually a very reasonable plan of action. The woman was really relieved and happy then for the author’s validating her feelings.

Now, so what was the idea of this story? Why did the woman need to talk to someone else even though she already knew what she wanted to do?

The answer, by Dr. Posen, is that she was looking for PERMISSION, she wanted someone to support or validate her actions. With that she had the courage to act.

Imagine you have a tough decision to make and  you make a list of the pros and cons of the decision, and you realize that you know clearly what you should do. So it’s not about indecision, but inaction that is the issue. You know what you should do, but you’ve yet to take action on it. Then we talk to others for them to give us their permission/endorsement/blessing to act.

Quoting from Dr. Posen, he says that “we need someone to give a blessing to a course of action that, in our heart of hearts, we want to follow, but somehow cannot allow ourselves to pursue.”

Eventually, we have to give ourselves permission to act! It isn’t selfish to think what we want and then doing what it takes to get it – it’s about living for yourself and not giving up control of your life to someone else.

So when faced with a decision that you’ve been unable to carry out, give yourself permission to act.

God bless you all.


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