One of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received from a lover was this: You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone.  As a woman I had never considered this as an option let alone a fact.  That was something that was a part of men and men’s lives.  They did what they did the way they did it and it was a gift when they included women and part of what they brought to the relationship table was that they would be willing to explain themselves at times and would allow negotiation.  I’m over simplifying but that’s the gist.  To think that I had the same rights and abilities was stunning.  That I was an equal with the same rights, the same power and abilities was mind-blowing and explained a lot about why he and I seemed to be talking at cross purposes.  He assumed that I already knew all this and I had no idea and so wasn’t acting from that perspective.

I see this with my students and clients as well.  They talk about needing to have one more conversation with their significant other to try and get their honey to give them equal rights to time and resources and respect.  Which immediately sets off the red flags for me because their honey doesn’t have all that power.  The client/student is handing them that power and then working desperately to get a fraction of it back.

Which is why it tickled me so much when a male colleague of mine pointed out this rather tried but true axiom: It’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.  Asking for permission to be who you are and to do what you need to do hands your partner or friend or etc power.  It could be appropriate in the situation but most people do it unconsciously because they feel a power inequality.  They feel less than and hand power over then ask for permission to have a bit of it back.  One of the consequences of this is that we are therefore not the equal partner that they need.  In giving them the keys to the kingdom we take away the one thing they want in the relationship – us.  Asking for forgiveness doesn’t mean that you actually need to, it’s the idea that you have the right to do what you need to do without having to ask anyone’s permission to do it.  It means you have power over you.  What a blessing it is to our partners to relieve them of the need to manage both themselves and us!

So pay attention to the choices you are making and how you are making them.  Getting them to “let” you do this or that is a key indicator that you’ve handed your power over to someone else.  Taking care of yourself and being yourself isn’t a prize for being a good person, it’s a basic requirement of life. If you’ve stepped on toes in order to get there ask for forgiveness and then have a discussion with them about why their toes were in the way.  🙂