November 29, 2022 by Dymphna

T-Bomb: Why people are scared of permission

Truth Bomb Tuesday: Be direct. Be clear.

“I give you permission to do whatever you want, all the time.”

You should see people’s faces when I say this to them. It’s subtle. But they freeze up a bit and their eyes bug out. There’s a jolt of energy that slips through their system.

“What if it were true? What if I could just do whatever I wanted?”

But what’s that emotion about? I can tell you it’s not excitement. It’s not a dreamy longing for another way of living.

It’s fear. It’s terror.

That’s the jolt that hits them.

But put yourself in that thought experiment. Imagine I’m not a property investor who likes meddling in people’s lives. Imagine I am the Arch-angel Dymphnarel, and I have come to tell you that it’s God decree that you have permission to just do whatever you want.

Not saying that me or any of the other angels are going to get involved in any messes you end up creating, but you have permission.

What do you do with that?

Most people, I reckon, find it a little terrifying, or at least daunting.


The first reason is that we just don’t trust ourselves.

We imagine that if the rod of responsibility was lifted from our backs, we would become self-indulgent hedonists.

We would mindlessly pursue cheap pleasures, and not give a flying fig about anyone else.

We would drive our jetski right through nippers surf lifesaving, with ACDC full volume on the stereo.

But let’s unpack that a bit.

Is that really what you would do?

Or is that just how you were taught to think about your own pleasure? Many of us were taught that we had to rule ourselves with an iron fist or we would do terrible, terrible things.

It’s just not true. Apart from the mentally-disturbed, I would say that all humans are beautiful. They like beautiful things. They enjoy being a beautiful influence in other people’s lives.

And the truth is, that if you lived your life with full permission, you would just do beautiful things and be a beautiful influence in the lives of those around you.

Don’t let them tell you any different.

The second reason why we find this idea scary is all the responsibility it implies.

If we are allowed to do whatever we want, then it’s on us to figure out what it is that we actually want to do (and that’s a pretty daunting prospect itself), and then we have to figure out how to engineer our lives so that we can make it happen.

If you’re not allowed to do what you want to do, and you just have to do what you’re told to do, then you just don’t have any of this responsibility. It’s all out of your hands.


Accepting responsibility for your own happiness is actually hard, and pretty daunting for a lot of people.

But what that gives us then is two reasons why we find the idea of having permission to do what we want very scary.

And two reasons to believe them when they tell us that you’re just not allowed to do whatever you want.

Time to flip the script on that one, I reckon.

I give you permission.