Have you ever heard the saying “It’s better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission”?
Well, if you haven’t, now you have.
I heard this saying back when I was working in the hospital from one of my coworkers. She was very confident in her ways and also a go-getter. I admired her for that and would even sometimes get annoyed by how care-free she was. The thing is it’s not that I was annoyed with her, it’s that I was annoyed with myself. Back then I was REALLY bad at sticking up for myself and was lacking confidence not just in myself but also in my abilities. I’ve come a long way.
I think of that quote often and try to remember that you don’t always need permission to do something in your life. Frankly, you almost never need permission as a grown adult to do anything. You need to give yourself permission and then you can gain acceptance from those that matter. It’s not easy to do, trust me, but it’s far more freeing and fulfilling than asking for permission only to be let down and frustrated by the end result.
Ask for Permission
Fast forward to last week when I was invited onto the Girls Gone WOD Podcast , one of my favorite podcast shows. The co-hosts are both so smart, funny, and incredibly empowering. We were discussing nutrition topics (episode to air soon) and the topic of permission was brought up by Joy (one of the co-hosts). Seriously, if you don’t listen to them yet, you’re missing out, go now, then come back here.
Before the show, Joy said to me “It’s funny because really we are always just looking for permission to do things that are viewed as “unhealthy”.
Damn, she nailed it on the head. It brought me back to working in the hospital and having that revelation for the first time that I had always asked for permission. I almost never did what I thought was necessary and asked for forgiveness for my actions even if I knew it was what I wanted/needed to do/say/think/feel.
At the same time, it made me realize how many people are really asking for permission to eat a certain way (like to down a whole pint of ice cream) instead of giving themselves permission to do what is necessary for their own health. It should be that simple, even though in reality it’s not.
Free for All?
If we don’t need to ask permission then can we just do whatever we want and gain health? Of course not. However, by giving yourself permission to be healthy and to do what YOU need instead of what you think others think you need, you may find you gain a healthier relationship with food and your health.
It’s not a free for all, instead, it’s accepting yourself and your health goals and then giving yourself permission to act appropriately. Hey, it may even mean once in a while you eat said pint of ice cream because it feels right and doesn’t sabotage your health in the long run.
Acceptance Instead of Forgiveness
In the case of health, fitness, and food I would change the statement above to:
“Instead of asking for permission, seek acceptance.”
Instead of forgiveness, we really should be asking or perhaps just looking for acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean that we have to be the same as others, it just means that others can accept you for who you are and whatever food/diet/health you decide to pursue.
I don’t have to love your diet or do it myself to accept you for doing your diet and your own thing. There are some foods/diets that work for some but not for all, so it’s not fair to say I don’t accept your way of eating just because it’s not my way of eating.
Now, the lines definitely can be crossed with me because I am a dietitian and am there to help guide you on the right path for your health. However, if you are not a trained health care practitioner, you should only be accepting others for their health, not reprimanding them and telling them they need your permission to do something other than what you subscribe to. Stop trolling and scroll on.
If you find yourself constantly needing permission for the way that you eat, I see 3 potential problems:
- You are asking because you don’t believe it is something that adds to your health (i.e. can I eat a pint of ice cream daily?)
- You don’t believe it will be accepted or viewed as “correct” or “healthy” (i.e. is it healthy to have one glass of wine per night?”)
- You are hanging around the wrong crew and need to UNSUBSCRIBE and move on to a crew that will accept you for you. (i.e. you want to eat less gluten and more veggies, but your ‘friends” poo-poo healthy eating and gluten-free foods)
So next time you ask for permission, look at the above and ask yourself, WHY am I asking permission. Once you figure that out, evaluate what needs to be done to make sure you are no longer seeking permission but instead health and acceptance.
What to do instead?!
Ok, so I get it, it might not be all that intuitive. Your health and relationship with food were not formed overnight, so let’s find out where to start…
- Find a diet/nutrition plan that works for you (not for someone else)
- Keep your eyes on your own plate. This sounds silly but honestly, what you need is not what the person next to you (this includes best friends & spouses) needs.
- Ask for acceptance instead of permission. End of story.
- Do not seek permission just to justify habits that are not contributing to your health. Instead, figure out why you are looking for that permission and work to build new habits.
So, here’s the thing, I’m a dietitian and I’m here to offer you advice on how to eat to be the healthiest and happiest version of yourself. I am not here to give you permission to eat that bowl of ice cream or to go gluten-free.
You have to give yourself permission and then ask others for acceptance. If someone cannot accept you for the way that you eat, it’s probably a sign you’re just not compatible, and that’s okay. On the flip side, if you find you are seeking permission to justify a not-so-desirable eating behavior, stop placing that habit on someone else, take ownership and accept that you are not seeking health instead you are seeking permission to justify a not so healthy habit.
Stop asking for permission. Start seeking acceptance. Take ownership.
That’s it. (Note: this doesn’t just apply to food/health/diet, it just happens to be my specialty).