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  • Writer's pictureHelena

Permission Slips

Last Tuesday, I was having a really tough day; I felt down and just wanted to cry. I felt the need to hide under the duvet in a warm and safe cocoon and shut out the world around me. The fact that it was chucking itself down outside didn’t help; #whereisthesunshine!! But I felt under pressure to get up and work, or at the very least do something! The “shoulds” starting kicking in... I should be working… I should be doing the housework… I should be dealing with this like a grown up... I shouldn’t be lying in bed and hiding from the world...

So, I made myself get up and tried to work. But nothing was flowing, even after a relaxation meditation and copious cups of tea. And I was getting more and more frustrated with myself, which simply added to those feelings of wanting to hide away. So basically, I felt crap and cried even more!

That afternoon I had a chat with my coach (yes, I have my own personal life coach too and she is amazing!) and told her I just wanted to hide under the duvet. And she asked me such a simple question... “Can you?” As in “..can you go back to bed and hide under the duvet…” And it really stopped me in my tracks and made me think...

Could I go back to bed and hide under my duvet?

Did I really need permission to have a “duvet day”?

As busy grown ups, with jobs, responsibilities and never-ending lists of things to do, do we ever give ourselves permission to have a “duvet day” or simply take some time out to do something for ourselves? Whether that’s taking a whole day out to do something you enjoy, cancelling a meeting or an appointment, or simply sitting for half an hour and enjoying a cuppa and reading a book. And when we do take that time out for ourselves, it has massive impact on our own wellbeing; we feel recharged and rested. That never-ending list of things to do is tackled with a renewed sense of purpose. We have refilled our own cups which means we then can fill others’.

So even though we know its good for us and the people around us, what stops us from giving ourselves permission to do something for ourselves?

For me, it’s a number of things (and in no particular order!):

1. People will think I am being selfish? Or lazy? Or crazy? Or stupid?

2. I should be doing something more constructive with my time or energy.

3. Other things sometimes feel more important.

4. I’ll just finish these things on my list first.... (finishing those things rarely happens!)

Sometimes, I just don’t want the responsibility of actually giving myself permission! Its almost easier, when someone else gives me permission to take some time out or to do or be something that moves me out of my comfort zone.

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling overwhelmed with juggling work, packing for my holiday and dealing with the kids various activities. I didn’t know where to start! My mum had popped over for a chat and a cuppa and I was moaning about all the things I needed to do. My mum simply told me to forget about work until I got back off my holidays and focus on the packing and the kids. It was like she had “given me permission” to let go of something temporarily so that I could focus properly on the immediate things that needed doing and do them properly.

Now, I know not everyone has the luxury of being able to drop work for a couple of days, but re-prioritising and postponing less urgent tasks or meetings may be just as feasible. Giving you time to breathe; time to refocus and re-energise so that you are better equipped to deal with things. The key piece was about getting permission – I allowed someone else to do that for me, which took away the responsibility for making that decision and in a strange way, I was more comfortable with that!

Who can you turn to when you need someone to “give you permission”? For me, its my mum, or my coach or a trusted friend or work colleague. Sometimes, though we don’t always have immediate access to people who can support us in this way or its not appropriate for them to do that.

So is there another way?

Do you remember when you were at school, and your parents had to fill in and sign permission slips to allow you to take part in activities? If you are a parent like me, permission slips seem to be a weekly requirement to allow our kids to be able to take part in anything at school these days, whether its going on a trip, taking part in an after school activity or just being in a photograph!

Last week, I started reading Brene Browns “Braving the Wilderness”, and was intrigued to learn that she writes herself permission slips on a Post-it note. Her first one simply stated “permission to be excited and goofy and to have fun”! And she’s used hundreds more since!

So I decided to have a play with this idea and have come up with my own version of permission slips, just for you! I have designed two versions – one where YOU give YOURself permission and one where I give you permission, just in case that feels more comfortable and more guilt-free!

My call to action from you is to download the permission slips from my resources page, print them off and use them to give yourself permission to take some time out, guilt-free or to make a commitment to doing something that shifts you outside of your comfort zone, just like Brene!

Be crazy, have fun but most of all allow yourself to be YOU!!

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