I like to ask women of all ages in counseling about their hopes and dreams, and what they would really be doing if they could. Too many women are awaiting permission from someone else to go for really want to be doing, creating or experiencing.

Writer Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love speaks and writes about the importance of women giving themselves the opportunity to define their own life purpose, and consideringother paths than our mothers and grandmothers took.  Other women want to be brave enough to choose the same path their mother followed.

The messages that girls get while they are growing up often encourage women to defer, consider the needs of others, and accommodate. While awareness of the needs of others is valuable, women and girls need encouragement to develop their own dreams and their own voice in relationships and planning their lives.

Here are some of the situations where I want to have us all encourage the women in our lives:

To have life goals beyond being a parent or wife.

To decide to work it out to be a stay-at home-parent and raise our own children if we choose to.

To take time to develop our friendships with other women.

To end relationships that are abusive, demean or belittle us.

To start a business of our own.
To recreate our lives when children are grown if we choose to.

To create art.

To tackle issues, causes and problems we care about.

To do things that make us happy.

To spend time alone, in our own company. 

To advocate and speak up on our own behalf.

To set our own goals.

To challenge ourselves.

To be brave.

To keep learning new things.

To ask for what you really want, at work and in your relationships.

To develop and utilize your talents and gifts.

It's important to encourage the girls and women in our lives to nurture their own dreams, and not just support the dreams of others. Being "nice" is overrated and doesn't really make you fulfilled. There are no prizes for suffering or being a martyr.

As women we deal with the way we were raised, and the feminine archetype of being selfless and all giving, which may set us up to be pleasers. It is essential to listen to that still small intuitive voice inside us which wants to express who we really are, outside of roles and other people's needs and expectations.
Perhaps now is a good time to be asking yourself what you could give yourself permission to do that would make you more fully alive and closer to your own true north. Maybe the permission you need is really your own.