This is 31 conversations from the front porch day 12 – you can find the whole series by clicking this link.
Day 12: Taking Back Permission
I can recall offering a, “No” into a situation and having my response of “No” – being met with a look, a set of the jaw, a flash of the eyes, and the barely audible, “Well, we’ll just see.” I did not at the time allow my anger or defensiveness to roar ugly. I simply let my, “No” speak for itself. I did not offer an excuse, or an explanation. I had my reasons.
On a side note: this was really hard for me… I was terrified of letting my NO rest between us. BUT
I have grown up enough in the last few years to understand that I do not need to defend or define my choice. I can let my, “NO” be no.
Fast forward to when my, “No” finally took into effect between us and it was not received well. The other person’s “Well, we’ll just see” rammed full speed ahead into my “NO this is not happening right now.”
You can tell a lot about your relationships when you stop cooperating.Or when you choose to use your NO.
Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend in their book, “Boundaries” say that our “NO” is a litmus test for our relationships. If someone can hear our no and respect it – that is a healthy relationship with boundaries that are respected. If our “No” is met with anger, manipulating, tears, nagging until we relent, and/or negotiating – well that does not say much for the health of the relationship or the person responding.
The most difficult NOs come in the places where we have once given consent – but now we are taking back permission.
We have in the past allowed a relationship to be defined a certain way, the ways that we interact with one another or ways we interact together in the world, but now I am taking that back and am not going to allow you to treat me the way that you always have or I am not going to participate in the toxicity we bring when we are together.
I am taking back permission.
What once existed between us – what I allowed – what I silently tolerated – what I wasn’t brave enough to call out – or the truth you were not willing to hear – these ways of being together I am no longer going to allow. I will no longer be participating.
- You don’t get to behave badly towards me and still remain in a relationship with me.
- We don’t get to behave badly together towards others and still remain in a relationship with one another.
- You do not get to whisper one thing to my face and speak falsehood behind my back and think I will allow it.
Whether because of immaturity, my previous “firstborn daughter people-pleasing” ways, or because I unintentionally allowed our relationship to be defined a certain way – You speaking into it as a critic, gossip, name-calling, manipulating, bullying behaviors – all of these things cease at this moment.
If we move forward together at all – these toxic behaviors will no longer be tolerated.
You do not have my permission.
Sometimes this is the kind of hardball we need to find when relationships turn sour. When we get down the road and realize how toxic we are together, how we are being treated, or how we behave that does not honor the values we want to live and allow into our lives we have to make some hard choices. And sometimes those hard choices include removing permissions that we have given.
We take back consent so that the problematic, harmful behaviors no longer occur moving forward.
It means choosing to live as authentically and wholeheartedly as possible.
Sometimes that means not only do we remove permission, but we also remove ourselves completely from the relationship or the situations that perpetuate the harmful toxicity.
We let it go.
I’ve had to do this. Releasing relationships is not easy or ideal, but sometimes that is the only way you can live authentically with people who refuse to honor your boundaries/permissions.
At the heart of the permissions you have given in your life is a difficult choice – boundaries.
You have a right to choose the consent you give… even if those who no longer have permission in your life become angry and react strongly against your new boundaries.
You do have a choice.
You can choose self-care and what permissions you are willing to give.
When a relationship is meant to be – redefining your permissions, using your authentic “NO” will only make the trust, honor, candor, and respect between you stronger.
Exercises For Your Own Front Porch Conversations
Thoughts: Your permissions can not harm someone else. Redefining what you want and what you do not want in your life is NOT going to fly across the room and beat someone down. It may anger them. They may react strongly in response to your newly defined boundaries and consents, but that new definition is not going to HARM them. They may hurt. You choosing authenticity may be hurtful – in that they will not always understand. They may be offended. They may refuse to hear you.
You can offer an explanation if you choose to or you can allow your NO to be NO without excuses.
The truth is that we grow up (hopefully) and as we mature we change (hopefully) and oftentimes those relationships that may have been important or essential during one season no longer fit later in life. And if they do continue to fit – it is because the people while shifting and growing have also worked to help the relationship to mature. You see this most often in the parent-child relationship. As a child matures into an adult the relationship has to change. They have to move more towards friendship – or the relationship will not survive. A parent can not continue to treat their adult child – like a child – and have a healthy, whole, authentic relationship develop from that same confined relating. And in the same way a grown child can no longer act like a child in what they expect to give and get from their parents – and still expect friendship and demand boundaries. They can not expect to be treated like an adult when they are still acting like a child.
Parents and their grown kids have to forgive one another much and work to keep toxicity from developing in the relationship. This work begins way before the child ever leaves the house.
If you want to make a relationship stronger – use your NO. If you want to weed out the toxicity in your life – redefine your permissions.