If choice is the expression of true power, then permission, or entitlements, becomes a conduit to make it so. Permission is defined as authorizing change, giving freedom to what is restrained, and letting go.
This concept of needing permission is more common to women than men; men, for the most part, have an innate sense of entitlement resulting from the way their mothers nurtured them and from societal mores that continually reinforce that men have power. They are encouraged to be aggressive, forward-moving and on top.
Women grow up with a set of expectations that are different from those of men. As history has shown, men have most often led the charge and women have been the followers.
Since “Rosie the Riveter” emerged in WWII, women have taken on increasingly larger roles in the workforce and in politics. There has been a shifting of power from the one who has it to the one who needs it. Sometimes it takes a role model to set change in motion.
Several years ago, Oprah Winfrey went public about how she spends her Sundays, in her pajamas, relaxing and being a “couch potato.” That story reverberated through the sleepwear industry; sales skyrocketed. Women were taking time for themselves to be self-nurturing without apology and taking care of themselves in ways they had only fantasized. Oprah, reaching millions of women within a one-hour program, was the catalyst.
Years ago I read a book that has become a classic in women’s studies, Women Who Run With the Wolves. It describes us in our authentic state: “Healthy wolves and healthy women share certain psychic characteristics: keen sensing, playful spirit, and a heightened capacity for devotion. Wolves and women are relational by nature, inquiring and possessed of great endurance and strength. They are deeply intuitive and intensely concerned with their young, their mate and their pack. They are experienced in adapting to constantly changing circumstances, they are fiercely stalwart and very brave.”
Women are shaped and influenced by advertising, as well as the environment in which they grew up, and their genetic disposition.
The world of advertising and early childhood environment often control, through guilt and shame, women’s choices and how we feel about those choices.
Anything that diverts our intrinsic drive away from what is natural to us diminishes our authenticity and self-worth.
The seeds of disconnection from one’s true self are planted when a child is an infant; how her needs are treated sets into motion what will then be considered her self-esteem. This positive, strong sense of self or damaged sense of self will domino into adulthood and be reflected in the choices a woman makes. An authentic sense of self will be demonstrated in a confident woman.
Conversely, a damaged sense of self will be reflected in the kinds of choices a woman makes, often at the expense of her authentic self.
Adults who need permission to get their own needs acknowledged come from a childhood of discarded instincts and suppression. A childhood environment of narcissism from parents and siblings constantly puts an adult into a quandary of whose needs come first. My spouse’s needs or mine? My children’s needs or mine? My dog’s needs or mine? Where are the boundaries that offer sanity and release from guilt and shame? When will it be my turn to be seen and cherished for who and what I am?
Janet struggled with a mother who never allowed her to be herself. When she started her sessions, Janet had the disapproving voice of her mother in her head. She inherited from her mother a talent for storytelling and reminded me of Meryl Streep in the film Out Of Africa.
Janet also wrote well. She inherited from her mother the message: “Never brag about yourself.” So Janet could not distinguish between sharing her accomplishments and bragging; they sounded the same to her. She had written a screenplay, showed it to her mom, and her mother’s response was: “Yes dear, that is a lovely hobby.” Janet didn’t give herself permission to assert that her talent was not merely a hobby.
One of the many things Janet learned in our sessions was that the voice of her mother in her head was fear-based. It was not her voice. She had inherited her mother’s fears about being seen as she truly was.
You can let go. Give yourself permission to experiment; share your accomplishments with total strangers, and see how no one laughs at you and that the world does not stop spinning. Don’t rob your creative side of the energy it has to identify who you really are.
Permission and money? They go back to the fundamentals: Who has the power to not buy that latte? Who has the power to ask for a raise? Who has the power to determine your self-worth?
Answer: You do.