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Stop Using this Word & Your Permission Slip

There is one word too many of us use, which only serves to make us feel unworthy. We use it all the time in both love and in business. In this week’s vlog we discuss becoming aware of how that insidious word that makes us FEEL GUILTY, plus one exercise to help heal the damage it causes.


Hello and welcome to the weekly vlog!

This week I want to talk about something I hear from every single woman I know – whether she’s an entrepreneur or not.

It’s just ONE word but it’s one that makes us feel guilty, pressured and unhappy most of the time.

It’s the word SHOULD.

In our For Love And Business workshops, that word comes up all the time. Usually when we talk about the Superwoman or Mother Teresa syndromes.

The word SHOULD implies the pressure we put on ourselves to do things because we think we HAVE to in order to meet OTHER people’s expectations. Or sometimes we use “should” because we aren’t very good at figuring out what we really want for ourselves.

Now I’m not talking about the “should” we use for the things we really ought to be doing, even though we don’t like them. As in, “I should be going for my mammogram” or “I should be filing my tax return.” This isn’t about lack of motivation.

This is about things I hear some of our community members say like:

“I SHOULD be writing a blog because that’s what my marketing coach says I should do to promote my business.”

Or “I SHOULD really be tidying up the house.” (Then when questioned we realize it’s not because it really needs it. It’s because we’re afraid of being judged!)

Sometimes the “shoulds” go really deep. Like the young woman I know who is struggling to maintain boundaries with an elderly parent she cares for. He’s being unreasonably demanding with her. But she is afraid to tell him “no” because that’s not what a “good daughter” should do.

The thing is, for any of these situations, the shoulds are caused by our fear of being rejected. We fill our heads with obligations because we are afraid of what other people THINK. We become afraid we won’t be worthy of their acceptance, respect and even love.

Brené Brown is an author I adore. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she says,

“When we can let go of what other people think, and OWN our own story, we gain access to our worthiness – the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging.”

That’s regardless of whether we hate the very thought of writing a blog. Or we have a messy house. Or we walk away from a situation when there are unreasonable demands and verbal abuse.

The truth is, we are worthy right here, right now.

But saying this to ourselves and living it is not always easy.

That’s why I loved an exercise I came across recently in an audio Masterclass by another favourite author, Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic).

Liz says that we need to give ourselves permission.

Permission to stop “shoulding ourselves”. To stop doing things because of other people’s expectations.

And to start doing things because we want to.

The exercise she suggests is a lot of fun. She calls it the Permission Slip. You know, like the permission slip maybe your old school principal would have given you.

It works like this:

Find a quiet moment and take a piece of paper or your journal.
Write at the top, “Dear (your name)”.
And the prompt:

“I am the Principal, and this is your permission slip. You have my permission to…”

Then listen to what you hear.

If at first you hear negativity, like “this is a stupid idea, you have other things to do,” maybe your permission is to take more time for yourself!

You know I would never suggest you do anything unless I’ve done it myself, so here’s one thing that landed on my permission slip:

“I give you permission to MAKE MISTAKES, and to drop things when they don’t feel good anymore.”

Now this doesn’t mean I’m not trying to do my best.

It just means I don’t beat myself up so much when I make a mistake like there’s a typo in the subject line of my weekly email, for example.

Giving myself permission has given me the strength to walk away from some big projects I’d been involved with for years that I wasn’t enjoying anymore.

Without the “should” I can focus on what I really want to do!

And maybe, so can you!

What could your Principal be telling you in your permission slip?

Maybe permission to ask for what you need from a loved one – like help around the house, or the right kind of emotional support for your business.

Maybe permission to give up a volunteer commitment in an organization that’s no longer aligned with what you want.

Or maybe permission to be a loving daughter, but not one who drops everything at a parent’s beck and call.

Think of this exercise as a way to work yourself OUT of some of the pressures you might be feeling in love or business, to do things because of what you think others expect from you.

If you feel up to it, tell us what is on your permission slip!

If you think of anyone who could use a permission slip, send them the link to this vlog or share on social media.

And of course, thanks for watching. Until next week, make it a great one!

Yours for love and business,

Doreen's signature in blue


Featured Image Photo Credit: Isaiah Rustad, Unsplash.com

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