This post is inspired by an excerpt from the book Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown.
“The next morning, as I was getting dressed to meet Oprah for the first time, my daughter texted me. She wanted to make sure I had signed and returned a permission slip for her school trip. After assuring her that I had, I sat on the edge of my bed and fought back tears. I started thinking, I need a permission slip to stop being so serious and afraid. I need permission to have fun today. That got the idea started. After I looked around my room to make sure no one was watching the incredibly ridiculous thing I was about to do, I walked over to the desk in my room, sat down, and wrote myself a permission slip on a Post-it note from my computer bag. It simply said, ‘Permission to be excited and goofy and have fun.’”
“It would be the first of hundreds of permission slips I would go on to write for myself. I still write them today and I teach everyone who will give me five minutes of their time the power of this intention-setting method. It totally works. But as with permission slips you give your kids, they may have permission to go to the zoo, but they still need to get on the bus. Set the intention. Follow through. That day, I got on the bus.”
Reading this, I got to thinking about what I might write on my own permission slip and noticed that I was feeling a bit challenged by it… hmmmm that’s interesting. I also wondered about what other people would write on their own permission slips… so I asked some friends, colleagues and clients. An overwhelming majority of the people I asked were excited to even think about it. Some wanted time to get back to me and others leapt right in… as if all they needed was the invitation…. and here’s some of what I got back.
- Permission to let go and move on with my life.
- Permission to slow down.
- Permission to relax and enjoy the quiet time I have now.
- Permission to take some time off from working.
- Permission to say no when I mean no.
- Permission to NOT pick up the phone when it’s ringing.
- Permission to be imperfect at new things I am attempting.
- Permission to do the things that make me smile.
Aren’t those all great suggestions? Now, what would YOU write on your own permission slip?
If you find it challenging to even get started, here’s a nudge. (It’s a tool that I used to help myself.)
Begin by sitting quietly for a moment – close your eyes and slowly, easily, deeply, breathe in and out through your nose. Repeat this 4 or 5 times. Relax your jaw and then slowly allow your shoulders, your arms and the rest of your body to relax down. Let your mind slow down and find some stillness. Use this breath to help you loosen the ‘bonds of shoulds’ so you can let them go. Imagine that all of those ‘shoulds’ that are coming up are filling up a big balloon…. Fill the balloon up with all of the ‘shoulds’. Let the balloon get bigger and bigger and when you’re ready, tie off the end and let the balloon go… release it and use your next exhale to blow the balloon away from you. Ahhhhh. Watch as it gets picked up by a gust of wind, and is then pushed even further and further away from you, as it is carried away, off towards the horizon… getting smaller and smaller until it’s gone.
Now open your eyes and use something like this to create an actual permission slip for yourself:
Today’s Date: _________________
Today, I give myself permission to ______________________________________.
Today __(your name)________________ has permission to ____________________.
Print it, post it, frame it, put it somewhere you’ll see it often, throughout the day. I have one clever friend who has written her permission slip on the fan above the stove, so she sees it every time she goes into the kitchen. And another who used gentle humor, wrote the slip on a post-it note, stuck it to her forehead and then took a selfie. Who says this stuff has to be serious?
Start with at least one permission slip today and see how that goes, then when you feel ready, write more of them, and even expand it to ‘Everyday’ or ‘From here on’ or another variation of that.
Give yourself permission to explore this. You might find it feels like the beginning of a beautiful relationship with yourself.