The truth about authority figures

The world needs women who stop asking for permission from the principal. Permission to live their lives as they deeply know they often should. I think we still look to authority figures for validation, recognition, permission. Elizabeth Gilbert (author)


How many authority figures are there in your life?

One? Two? More…?

So, surprise… this is a trick question. There should be no authority figures for you – if you are a strong, functioning adult who’s mentally healthy and emotionally functioning well.

Because if you’re an adult… you’re in charge. You’re the authority figure in your life. You’re in charge. No one is the boss of you. No one. You don’t need anyone’s permission – you’re the expert on you, it’s your call.

If that feels uncomfortable to you, maybe you could use a hand building your confidence in your power as an adult. Got questions?

My parents?

How old are you? If you’re a grown up, your parents should be wise friends you love deeply and who want the best for you. But they are not authority figures any more.

So what about my job boss? Or my boss’s boss?

Your boss is your colleague. If he or she is abusing that role, that’s an issue, because together you are supposed to be working to create something of benefit. Your boss may earn more money and there may be a hierarchy diagram which shows different levels in your work organisation, but that does not make your boss an authority figure. They may tell you things you don’t want to hear, and ask you to work when you’d rather not, but they are doing a job too. And you do have the right to say ‘no’.

What about the police?

Again, they’re doing a job. It’s not personal, they’re upholding the law. That’s their job.

What about politicians?

Along with the media and the church, they may be very keen on you giving them authority. Otherwise, well… why do you need them? Fear is a weapon of choice for these guys. Do as I say or you’ll lose all you (don’t) have. Do as I say or you’ll go to hell. Do as I say or you’ll be murdered in your bed/lose your job/lose… lose… lose…

The bottom line is, you are the authority figure of your life. You have the power – and may the force of love be with you, as a very wise woman I know likes to say.


If your parents have raised you well, you’ll be saying, ‘so what?’ 

If you’re confused by these ideas. Or threatened. Or at the very least uncomfortable with being in charge of you; full stop. Well, in all likelihood, you’ve got some growing up to do. And that wake up call can come at any age. Don’t worry if 18 is a very distant memory for you, it’s never too late.

So how do I grow up?

If you’ve cottoned on to the fact you’re a child dressed up as an adult (or in all likelihood an adult dressed as a teenager), step away from the scooter/skateboard and take a breath.

You can do this.

Firstly, there is Mel Robbins and her advise is free there. You’ll find her on YouTube. She’ll tell you that parenting yourself is your job now and she gives great advice.

If you think you want to work with someone on developing your skills in parenting yourself, building your confidence and dealing with where you took a wrong turn on your growing up journey, then there are plenty of great therapists out there who will help you achieve this.

Remember, it’s never too late to grow up. Peter Pan wasn’t happy, but you can be.

May the force of love be with you.

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