Are You Waiting for Permission?

Then Ask Yourself this Question!

Patricia Brooks
4 min readOct 29, 2020

Every society (and family) has a set of rules that help guide it, which helps keep order and the status quo. We are born into our culture without choice, and our brains are imprinted with the cultural norms (rules and regulations) without our choice either, when we are young.

I was born into a family with the guiding principle of “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Meaning you do everything to keep what you have and maintain the status quo. This was meant to protect us by playing it safe. You don’t quit a job unless you already have one in hand. Working for someone else at a job with benefits is better than trying to build something on your own. The mentality was that you go to college, get a good job, and retire from it at 65 or when you’ve put enough years in.

But somehow, after years of following that playbook, a guide that so many others in America follow, I broke free from that standard of operating and of being. Now I’m living in France, building an entrepreneurial business, and living on my own terms.

I’m now creative with so many ideas. I could write another two or three books right now (if only I had the time). I’m dating again and can show up authentically now, unafraid to lose out should my personality be counter to my potential suitor’s. I feel happy, free, and more alive than I’ve ever felt. Best of all, I help people not only to dream again, but to follow their dreams. This feels so good.

But how was I able to break free from norms and standards that ruled my life for decades?

“What am I failing to notice?” This simple question opened doors for me.

Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash

I began asking myself this after reading a quote by R.D. Laing. “The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and dreams.”

I think the question this quote elicits is so empowering because it opens your conscious mind to the possibility that you are overlooking something. And while you might not be consciously aware of what you are missing, as soon as you ask this question of yourself, the answer springs forth. A solution with the ability to move you in a new direction.

In addition to that, when you hear the response and take it to heart (not dismissing it), something magical happens. The seed of permission is planted — permission to do something that might be outside the bounds of cultural, societal, or family norms. Getting permission from our intuition and listening to it is the key to living in integrity with yourself, being true to you. It breaks down the sheep-like idea of following rules for rule’s sake and allows you to act in ways that are purposeful and move your life and experiences in the best course for you.

In the beginning, I did not leverage this Laing quote, and I wasn’t asking myself this magic question. But my Uncle Bob helped to change that. He is of my parent’s generation and does not buy into the “bird in the hand” mentality. When I shared with him my desire to move to France and my doubts about the soundness of that idea financially, Uncle Bob countered by saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

The belief that holding on to what I know was better than letting go and seeing what I could gain, learn, or become had held me in its grip. This belief was the thing I was failing to notice about life. This perspective held me back from truly experiencing it.

What are you failing to notice?

Ask yourself this often and watch your spirit sprout wings, and your satisfaction with life soar.

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Patricia Brooks

Bold, fledgling entrepreneur, author, podcast host Discovering Courage, Finding Freedom, Living in France! Adventures.Insights. Stories. thecouragecatalyst.com