The human experience is ever-changing, but the one thing that remains the same is the need to feel like you have a purpose. This need is not gender-based or race-based; it is human-based. Each person has a lived experience that charts the path to their purpose. That lived experience can lead women to ask for permission in all things, even their purpose.

People pleasing is not gender-based, but most people pleasers are women. Society, our families, our friends, our colleagues, our children, and even ourselves have taught us that we do not get to chart our paths without the approval of others. As a result, we often consider others before ourselves. It becomes a part of our habits; as we all know, we are only as strong as our weakest habit. 


Let’s take people-pleasing, for instance, as our weakest habit. Without realizing it, we may negatively impact our effectiveness by seeking others’ approval. Therefore, we avoid anything that may cause discourse or anxiety with others. When we avoid or stop doing things that we enjoy or are important to us, we start to feel anxious and build distrust in ourselves. That distrust erodes our self-esteem and well-being. That erosion makes fear and anxiety our resting place instead of hope and curiosity.

Rita Mae Brown says, “I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.”


How do we overcome a habit designed to ensure others approve and love us? We don’t overcome it. Instead, we create a habit that contradicts that self-harming habit and teaches us that we must first approve and love ourselves before anyone else can do that. This self-approval and love are the only way to find our purpose. 

You may say, “great, now what?”. Well, the next step is getting to know yourself. The Latin phrase “Temet Nosce” means to “Know Yourself.” It sounds simple and is simple, but it is not easy. Habit change expert, Meg Selig, discusses the six “VITAL Signs” that are key to self-understanding, career success, and happiness. Those six key elements are in the VITALS: Values, Interests, Temperament, Activities, Life Mission, and Strengths. On your journey to yourself, review Selig’s Psychology Today article: Know Yourself? 6 Specific Ways to Know Who You Are.

The Path

What is the path to trusting ourselves when we have been seeking approval from everyone? Brene Brown says, “We need to trust to be vulnerable, and we need to be vulnerable in order to build trust.” That includes self-trust. Be vulnerable by being gentle and kind to yourself every day, especially in those moments of getting to know yourself. The journey of gaining self-knowledge and awareness is beautiful and scary, but one thing it isn’t is unnecessary. On the contrary, it is essential and at the essence of being a human being. 

Say No

Knowing yourself allows you to stop seeking validation from others and creates an ability to say no. The ability to say ‘no’ is the power to create, pursue, and protect priorities. Someone once told me that ‘no’ is a complete sentence. That was one of the most accurate things I had heard in a long time.

Not everyone will approve or like you, but the opinions of others have less power once you have built your self-trust, self-love, and self-esteem. It may be seen as selfishness at first, but that autonomy will allow you to help others in ways you cannot imagine when you are in a season of people-pleasing. Once you start helping others from a place of self-love and honoring what is important to you, you begin to change the world positively. 

Because I Can

My hope for everyone is that we first know ourselves and, second, find our path to our purpose. Living a life of purpose does not mean you are always happy, but it does mean you live with joy in your heart. You can go through devastating times, not be happy, and still live with joy. You do not need the permission of anyone to live the life you want to live. You do need to be true to yourself and honor what matters to you.

The only approval you need is to become focused and intentional about things that you believe in and find important. Find people who allow you to show up for them and that show up for you. In moments that can create self-doubt or when you are asked why you are doing something, say, “Because I Can.” You will be surprised at how freeing that is when you say it out loud. 

My purpose is helping those who help others. When I align with that purpose, I find true enjoyment and fulfillment. My core values are connection, commitment, positivity, respect, and service. That does not mean I must help everyone who asks or needs me. If I maintain my values and live my purpose, I get to align myself with projects that honor the legacy I am creating for myself.  

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