3 Things To Give Yourself Permission For ASAP

February 1, 2018

Today I want to share three of the most common roadblocks my clients tend to have, and how to give yourself permission to overcome them.  Because even when a therapist says the exact right thing in session, that’s only a 50 minute block of your week.  The rest of the time, it’s just you out there, and […]

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I'm a foster + adoptive + bio mama to 4, and a psychotherapist in private practice.  I'm here to help you deal with all the feels on your foster care journey.  Welcome!


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Today I want to share three of the most common roadblocks my clients tend to have, and how to give yourself permission to overcome them.  Because even when a therapist says the exact right thing in session, that’s only a 50 minute block of your week.  The rest of the time, it’s just you out there, and you’ll need to consistently give yourself permission to overcome those roadblocks the other 10,030 minutes of the week.  

For some reason, there are certain things we have no problem saying to other people, but can’t seem to bring ourselves to believe or apply to our own life.  For example, we may readily give a friend or co-worker a compliment on how nicely she is dressed today or how well her hair looks, and yet…rarely (if ever) do we stand before the mirror and give ourselves a similar compliment.  We seem ever-ready and willing to give our besties compassion and sound advice in their most difficult conundrums, and yet, we often struggle greatly within ourselves when it comes to what to do about things in our own lives. 

Believe me friends, this is a common occurrence.  The problem for most of us is that we, for a multitude of reasons, don’t trust ourselves.  Perhaps you grew up constantly second-guessing yourself because, according to your parents, you could never do anything right.  Or maybe you suffered from low self-esteem due to bullying or feeling left out at school and so you learned to look to the crowd for what was right, neglecting your own instincts.  

Whatever the reason (and believe me, there are many more), most people struggle to give themselves the same compassion and sound advice they so easily give to others.  One of the main questions I ask my clients when they struggle to decide what to do in a certain situation is:  “If your best friend was in the exact same situation, what words would you say to them?  What advice would you give to them?”  It may take a bit of coaxing (some people will protest, stating all the reasons they’re not like they’re best friend or why their best friend wouldn’t need advice…sigh), but eventually each person usually comes up with the exact right thing they need to hear, say, or do.  

It’s a beautiful thing.  And not just because it makes my job a whole lot easier because my client just said the perfect thing so I don’t have to.  😉

Permission to Say No.  We might as well start with the biggie.  You have permission to say no.  To ANY and ALL things you don’t want to do, hear, experience, participate in, belong to.  You don’t have to have a reason beyond “I don’t want to.”  You certainly don’t have to give an explanation beyond “no thanks.”  You have permission to opt-out of anything that you don’t feel is good for you.  You have permission to say SEE YA to unhealthy relationships with toxic people.  You have permission to set boundaries with your words and behavior.  You have permission to NOT DO anything you feel like you should do but don’t really actually want to do.  You have permission to be good to yourself and maintain health in your life by only saying yes to things that align with that.  You also have permission to stop worrying about what people think of you and what they might say about you if you actually start living this way.  Trust me, friends…people-pleasing is for the birds.  

Permission to Forgive Yourself.  Oh, my sweet friends…this is another big one.  We simply aren’t perfect.  Oftentimes, even with the best of intentions, we mess up, we fail, we say or do the wrong thing.  And usually what happens next is:  we spend the next 24 hours to 30 plus years berating ourselves for it.  Life is too short not to forgive in general, but it is way, way, waaaayy too short not to forgive yourself.  Whatever it is you are holding onto, please remember this rock solid truth:  every single day, you are showing up in your life and doing your absolute best.  No one wakes up and thinks:  I think I’ll do everything horribly today…I think I’ll make as many mistakes as possible and make a mess of my life on purpose.  Literally no one does this.  Instead, we wake up full of hope and promise that today we will do our best…we will show up to hard things and people and conversations and try.  

And sometimes, despite our trying, despite our very best efforts, we fail.  Yes, even though we showed up and did our best, our best might have included something we wish we hadn’t said or done.  It might include a regret here or there.  It might include a desperate wish for a do-over.  And, friends…that’s ok.  That’s normal, even.  Why?  Because nobody’s perfect.  So extend some compassion toward yourself and leave your past in your past.  I realize this is easier said than done, which is why I wrote this post.  

Permission to Trust Your Instincts.  Finally, give yourself permission to go with your gut and trust your instincts.  After a loooong struggle with indecision, I have finally come to realize what an incredible waste of life it is.  Being a bit type-A, I admit, I like to have things organized, stick to a schedule.  But then, that really doesn’t leave much time for whimsy.  If we want to live joyfully and fully, we need to hone into our instincts.  They were, after all, given to us for a reason.  

We need to worry less about making a mistake (see above), and worry more about being fully present in our lives and living each day to the fullest.  Think about the decisions you typically agonize over, and find a way to go with your gut.  If you’re still a newbie at this, that’s ok.  Choose randomly by flipping a coin or using a randomizer form until you see that no matter what decision you make, it’s not make or break.  Once you realize this, you will find it easier to trust yourself.  You will find yourself tuning in to what really sounds, looks, or feels good to you.  And then, ideally, you will do more of that.  

I hope this post can encourage you to give yourself permission to live your best life, my friends.  These struggles are common to most people, but just because they are common doesn’t mean we have to accept them.  Please let me know if you have any questions!  

*** If you love this post, there’s a good chance you’ll love my book 31 Days to Managing Your Moods.  You can check it out here! ***

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I'm Cathleen, your new (foster) mom friend.

I'm also a psychotherapist in private practice who wants to teach my fellow foster mamas the skills that ACTUALLY work to overcome stress, anxiety and overwhelm...'cause ain't nobody got time for that!

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