3 min read

Give Your People Permission to Disapprove

Sometimes the best vibe is the one that holds space for the ugly things.
Give Your People Permission to Disapprove
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz / Unsplash

One day I found myself getting too involved in a relationship that wasn't my own to be involved in.

They were in a season of struggle and I was in a headspace of saving and fixing.

I think we all go into these situations with the intention of helping our loved ones without realizing that sometimes we're causing more damage.

Not just to ourselves, but to our connections with them, and to their ability to figure out how to stand on their own two feet and figure their shit out.

I set the boundary.

"I'm getting too involved. I need to step back."

I felt it as soon as I said it, so it didn't surprise me when one of them reached out and told me it triggered a felt sense of abandonment for her.

That is valid.

When you are struggling and someone you thought you could lean on a certain way sets a boundary - that is valid for them to feel abandoned.

That validity didn't change the fact that my boundary and my position were also valid.

Sometimes holding space for ourselves and our loved ones at the same time means we have to give them permission to be disappointed in us.

I remember when I told my dad I was dropping out of college.

He was disappointed. Angry, even.

I think he was really just afraid.

And afraid again when I told him I was starting my own business.

My parents haven't hidden the fact that the greatest measure of their success (in their eyes) is how well their children fare after they are gone.

And everything they were raised to believe says that college degree + secure career is the safest, surest way to reach that measure of success.

That is valid.

It isn't my answer. But it is valid that it was their answer.

My answer was still valid. I gave myself permission to trust my own answer.

I dropped out.

I started my own business.

I consider myself "unemployable".

And ultimately, I gave my parents permission to feel whatever they needed to.

Sometimes, we have to give our loved ones permission to be disappointed.

We have to give them permission to disapprove.

Sometimes we have to do this without trying to fix it.

Sometimes we just have to let it be valid.

My friend from the first scenario came back and said she realizes now that I was setting a boundary to keep her close.

I'm grateful she was able to see that.

My Dad tells me he's proud of me now.

I'm grateful he was able to get there.

Sometimes we're so terrified that people will stop loving us we don't give them a proper opportunity to.

Sometimes we're so terrified that people will stop trusting us we try to control them out of it.

Give them permission to decide their own path with you.

The disappointment and disapproval are temporary.

But the disconnect that can happen when we don't give our loved ones the space to feel and express their experience to us can be deafening to any relationship.

The "Good Vibes" mantra can be such a fucking disaster when we don't implement it with wellness.

When we use it to get defensive and stifle the voices and experiences around us.

Sometimes the best vibe is the one that holds space for the ugly things without burning it all down.

Sometimes loving someone means giving the relationship permission to experience some tension and let it work itself out.

Give your people permission to disapprove without getting defensive.

They usually aren't attacking you.

They're usually afraid.

And that's valid.

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