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Learned Permission-seeking

by Mark Lindsay

[This article orginally appeared in the Build Freedom News.]

A powerful new concept which we've developed is something we dubbed "learned permission-seeking." This idea came out of a brainstorm session I had with Jim Robertson the other day. We had decided that it was necessary for individuals to have an actual experience of putting their innate freedom into action in order to fully realize that they are free by nature. The central theme we promote is that humans are naturally free and powerful, but somehow manage to lose these qualities by the time they become adults. The fact that most individuals do not see themselves as free and powerful is evident all around us. Two-thousand-five-hundred years ago the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu recognized that the greatest problem in the world was that individuals lacked personal power. Today the lack of personal power is still the biggest problem in the world.

Negative Programming in Our Brains
One of the main reasons why we as individuals tend to lack personal power and freedom is that we have what could be called "negative programming" in our brains. Much of this negative programming was "installed" in our brains during our childhood and developmental years. Think of all the times your parents and teachers told you things like, "Don't do that!" "Stop, you'll hurt yourself!" "Behave yourself!" "Do as you are told!" "Because I said so, that's why!" "Wait till your father hears about this!" In his book The Path of Least Resistance, Robert Fritz cites an experiment in which three- and four-year old children had tape recorders attached to them, recording everything that was told to them: "After analyzing the tapes, researchers discovered that 85 percent of what children were told was about either what they could not do or how bad they were because of what they were doing."

In other words, as children, as much as 85% of what we learned from adults consisted of negative programming. Eighty-five percent! With all those negative, self-defeating programs running in our brains, its no wonder we feel powerless and unfree! Imagine if 85% of what we learned from adults as children consisted of positive self-empowering programs, reflected in such statements as: "You are free and powerful!" "You will grow up and do great things!" "You are as free as you choose to be!" "I have great confidence in you!"

Of course, our negative programming is not solely a result of the negative and disempowering statements directed toward us by our parents and teachers. But the great majority of it is, and as adults we continue to reinforce this negative programming through our self-talk (what we say to ourself, consciously or unconsciously). A major part of reclaiming and developing your personal power and freedom consists of eliminating negative self-talk and installing new self-empowering software in your brain.

A Program Called "Learned Permission-Seeking"
One of these negative, self-defeating programs is learned permission-seeking. A naturally free and powerful individual is someone who neither needs nor seeks permission from anyone else. The only "permission" required by such an individual comes from him or herself. Such a person is free to give themself "permission" to do whatever they choose to do provided they do not harm or violate the rights or property of others. But if we are born free and powerful, how do we get into the permission-seeking mindset? Permission-seeking is a "learned" behavior. It is something we pick up through experience. For most of us, our parents set the stage for our learned permission-seeking behaviors. Children are routinely taught that they need permission before they can go ahead and do various things. Once a child reaches school age, teachers take over where parents leave off. And for children brought up within a traditional religious framework, the permission-seeking mindset is further slammed into place. Parents, teachers, and religious leaders are all "authorities" whose permission we are taught to seek. (I highly recommend you read Julian Jaynes's Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind which contains some profound insights into the nature of "authority." You may also want to contact I & O Publishing and purchase some of their books on Neo-Tech.)

Unless we make a conscious and deliberate effort to identify and replace our negative self-defeating programs, we will continue to be controlled by these programs. In order to develop our personal power and freedom we need to consciously choose the programs by which we operate. Increasing our freedom and power is mostly a matter of changing what goes on inside our heads. We need to consciously examine, evaluate and improve our thinking skills, attitudes, belief systems, self-images, etc. And yes, all of this requires work. Permanent and effective changes require persistent efforts. Simply reading a personal power report (or this article) and laying it aside won't get you very far. Decide what steps you need to take and then take them.

Unfortunately, most adults continue to operate according to the programs which were installed in their brains early on: learned permission-seeking is no exception.

Permission and Control
Permission is a mechanism whereby one individual or group of individuals controls another. The permission-grantor controls the permission-seeker. In order for the permission-seeker to be able to do something, he or she must obtain the blessings of the permission-grantor. The concept of "permission" is inherently bound with that of "authority." My Webster's pocket thesaurus gives the following synonyms for the word "permission": "authority," "authorization," "leave," "liberty," "license," and "permit."

This leads to the question of ownership. Who owns you? If you are free and sovereign, you own yourself; you control yourself and you do not need permission from others. If you believe that you require permission from various "authorities" such as "government," then you are essentially a slave: you do not own or control your self and your life, "government" does. Consider the following scenarios:

Free Sovereign:
You own yourself
You control yourself
You give yourself permission

Government owns you
Government controls you
Seeks government permission

I once attended a John Birch Society meeting. Towards the end of the meeting we broke off into small informal discussion groups. I joined in on a group that was discussing the government-enforced Federal Reserve banking monopoly. It was clear that everyone was in agreement that the "Federal Reserve problem" needed to be eradicated. When I suggested to the Birch Society representative that perhaps someone could set up a private, alternative banking company or system, the representative looked at me and replied: "If it were allowed." Clearly, although probably unbeknownst to him, this man believed himself to be a government-owned and controlled slave.

Learned Self-Empowerment
The antithesis of learned permission-seeking is learned self-empowerment. Some of the elements of learned self-empowerment are as follows:

I recently received a letter from a 77-year-old man telling me about his experience using the Maximum Personal Power tape. He wanted to purchase two additional tapes so he would have one in his car and each of two rooms in his house. This is an individual who recognizes that he needs to work at increasing his personal power. Every freedom-oriented individual, no matter what age, needs to continuously develop and implement his or her personal power.

Learned self-empowerment = Consciously and deliberately working at increasing your personal power and freedom.

In terms of specifically eliminating from your brain the self-defeating program of learned permission-seeking, you may wish to consider the following:

Implementation Suggestions (by James Robertson)
How can you free yourself from always "having to ask permission for everything"? We think your best bet is to actually experience doing various things in your life - without asking permission!

Learning-by-doing is a very powerful teacher. You can gradually work your way into understanding the theory behind what you're doing; in the meantime, you gain valuable experience in your life. The best way to learn is to "just do it"!

How can you learn-by-doing?

Many little things in your life you probably already do, without asking permission of anyone first - if you in fact ever ask at all! Do you ask first before walking down a typical sidewalk? Do you ask first before opening the door and walking into a store? Do you ask first before you tie your shoelaces?

"But it never even occurred to me that in those situations I'd even have to ask permission!" That's right. You didn't even give it a second thought. You had LEARNED through experience not to even bother with the thought of having to ask permission. "That's right, I didn't even think about having to ask permission. But Jim, those are some pretty simple examples. It's obvious I don't have to ask permission to walk down a sidewalk, enter a store, or tie my shoelaces."

Naturally, that's obvious. But you had to LEARN that it's obvious. You learned from your typical life experience.

Why You Might Have Reacted Differently if You Had Had Different Life Experiences: To illustrate how your life experience might have taught you differently about these simple actions, consider what the "obvious" answer might have been for you had your life experiences been something like this:

(1) You grew up in a war zone. Passing by on the streets or sidewalks could get you killed. In this case, you probably would have "experienced" that you needed to at least get permission from "friendly" troops on "your side" so that: (a) "your own side" wouldn't kill you accidentally as you walked down the sidewalk and (b) "your own side" would be prepared to protect you if necessary.

Why is this your "obvious, natural" thought and action in these scenarios? Because you have learned from experience that "obviously I have to get permission first."

(2) You grew up in a time and place where "commercial activity" is frowned upon, or "buying something" is a "crime" if engaged in without "official permission." Or, you grew up in a time and place where you might face physical violence against you if you "ignored the boycott" and walked into a certain store to purchase something. In either of these scenarios, your "natural" thought would be to always ask for the appropriate permission before entering the store.

Why is this your "obvious, natural" thought and action in these scenarios? Because you have learned from experience that "obviously I have to get permission first."

(3) You grew up handicapped or physically-challenged. You had to have someone help you tie your shoelaces because you couldn't bend over. Depending on the availability and other obligations of the person helping you with things you were unable to do in your life - including tying your shoelaces - you had to ask the favor (permission or "okay") of your helper before you could engage in the action of "tying your shoelaces."

Why is "asking first" your "obvious" thought here? Because you have learned from experience that "I must ask first."

"So what's the point?"

Start with some easy ideas you can easily do, right now.

1. Start or increase your exercise program, right now. Do you need a doctor's permission to do that? You should, of course, be familiar with exercise procedures suitable to your situation right now. That may involve consulting books, friends, or even a doctor. But is this a requirement? No! You can start or increase your exercise program, right now. You don't even need to think twice about asking permission. "Just do it!"

2. When you want to cross the street, do you need to wait for the "permission" of some flashing sign? No, of course not. As a conscious adult, all you have to do is "look carefully both ways before crossing the street" and then "just do it"!

3. You're interested in our products. Do you need permission to buy our products? Of course not! You can start or increase your involvement with our programs, right now. You don't even need to think twice about asking permission. "Just do it!"

4. Realise and apply your true status as a Sovereign Individual. You may also want to declare it by filing an "Affidavit of Truth" at your County Recorder's Office. This low-profile methodology puts others "on public notice" that you are Individually Sovereign. Do you need permission to make your Individual Sovereignty a matter of low-profile public record? Of course not! You can declare your Individual Sovereignty, right now. You don't even need to think twice about asking permission. "Just do it!"

5. You can join (or increase your existing involvement in) the true free-enterprise system. Do you need permission to participate in free enterprise? Of course not! Do you need permission to start your own free-enterprise business, or shift your current business-activities into the free-enterprise sector? Of course not! You don't even need to think twice about asking permission. "Just do it!"

Commenting on the above article, John de Rivaz wrote:

"The article on getting permission needs some comment, I think. On the one hand we have the various "polizei", such as the "planningpolizei" (in the USA "Zoningpolizei"), who won't let people start a business, alter their house etc., without permission. This is clearly anathema to freedom-oriented people.

But on the other hand we have situations where, for example, someone who is in publishing wants to use an article that has been published by someone else. Surely here asking permission is not only polite, it also avoids making needless enemies and is within the principle of "respecting other people and other people's property"? ..."

Frederick Mann's Comments:
It helps to make a distinction between: (a) The situation where you own property (or want to acquire property), and some bureaucrats claim that you need their "permission" to do what you want to do with the property; (b) You want to use someone else's property.

In the case of (a), you apply whatever Freedom Technology is available to thwart the bureaucrats.

In the case of (b), it's really a matter of agreement and contract. First, you respect other people and their property. So you don't steal their property. Second, if you want to use their property, you make them an offer, for example, "I would like to reprint your article, in return for which I'll print your name and address so readers can contact you." This may result in an agreement and a contract.

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