permission slipsI often ask myself if I was born an over-doer. I also wonder if I was born a caregiver. Taking care of others before taking care of myself was my default for many years. Taking responsibility for too much feels very natural to me. With all the amazing work that I’ve been doing with women to teach them how to love themselves more and guiding them in creating fulfilled and purposeful lives, you would expect me to walk the talk. I do. But not always.

A few weeks ago, I exhausted myself with work. My body sent me signals that it was time to press the reset button. To rest, recharge and rejuvenate—for my health and my sanity. There was a time when I would have kept pushing myself and gotten sick. I wasn’t in tune with my body. But this time around, I listened to my body and reversed the situation using one of the tools I created for my clients.

A little bit of history:

I once heard one of my favorite speakers and authors, Brené Brown, answer a question about the jean jacket she wears all the time. She said that the only reason she wears it is because of all the pockets it has. Her pockets are filled with “permission slips,” small reminders she writes before important interviews or conversations about the things she gives herself permission to do (or, maybe, who she gives herself permission to be…).

After having so many intimate conversations with women about their life challenges, I realized there was a common thread: Many women don’t give themselves permission. They know they should rest, but there is always something that needs their attention. They want to set boundaries, but they don’t want others not to like them. Women often do a great job of allowing other people to relax, receive, set boundaries, enjoy life, and take care of their health. But when it comes to themselves, women live by the illusion that one day—when life slows down, when things are calmer, when all this craziness is over—they will start taking care of themselves.

Well, ladies, that day isn’t coming—unless you decide to take it for yourself!

This revelation led me to develop a valuable tool to help the women I work with nurture their bodies, hearts, and souls. I ask these women to create permission slips and start using them regularly.

These seven permission slips are what I would start with.
Download a free copy of the permission slips PDF and print them out.
Use these permission slips for yourself, or pass one along to someone you love.

  1. Permission to rest
    When there is a lot going on in life, resting seems like a waste of time because there is always something to do, right? Even when we think we’re resting, we do other things, such as read Facebook or search the web. The “break” does not energize us at all. I’m sure you know the difference between feeling really rested and just taking a break. When you rest…rest. Use it as a time to rejuvenate.
  2. Permission to receive
    For many of us, giving is more comfortable than receiving. That was me for most of my life! I learned the hard way that I can only be in true service of others when I balance the two. It is time for us to let go of the guilt and allow ourselves to be taken care of from time to time. A day at the spa, an hour of massage, or Reiki are a great start. Giving yourself permission to receive is a state of mind more than anything else. Receiving is a “must” in your self-care routine in order to avoid burnout.
  3. Permission to say “no”
    The real reason why many of us are afraid to say “no” is that we want to please others, and we want them to like us. The benefit of saying “yes” might be that people are less disappointed with us, and they like us more—but the cost might be too high. As a recovered “saying ‘yes’ junkie,” I can tell you that taking on too much cost me my health. When you say “no” to others, you say “yes” to your sanity and your health.
  4. Permission to be less than perfect
    Perfectionism causes stress. We believe that we’re only worthy and lovable when we’re perfect. The stress takes a toll on our behavior, our attitudes, and eventually our health. Recognizing that letting go of investing 150 percent of our energy into making things “super good”—and instead allowing ourselves to give, maybe, 80 percent—is necessary when we teach ourselves how to be less than perfect.
  5. Permission to breathe
    How often do you feel that life ends up being one long to-do list? Feeling the pressure of time, we often go-go-go, trying to get it all done. This pace doesn’t leave much room for the simple act of…breathing. And I’m talking about consciously breathing. Try allowing yourself to PBS: Pause, Breathe, and Smile.
  6. Permission to slow down
    Conscious breathing is basic and essential for shifting from stress to balance. The next step is to get some awareness about your pace. How well are you pacing yourself? For many of us, life pulls us in many directions. We slow down only when on vacation or when our bodies force us to. The interesting thing is that slowing down has many physical and emotional benefits and helps us to clear our minds. Yet we rarely do it. Spend some time reflecting on how to slow down when life speeds up.
  7. Permission to have fun
    This one is my favorite! I grew up believing that, much like rest, fun was a waste of time. After years of thinking I would have fun when I was done working, I realized that work is never done. So I shifted my perspective. What I realized is that everything in my life improves when I focus on having fun: my attitude, my relationships, my career, and my creativity. I now know that fun is one of the most important expressions of self-care. In this article, I present a simple question you can ask yourself to help you shift to a more enjoyable life.

Download a free copy of the permission slips PDF.
Use these permission slips for yourself, or pass one along to someone you love.

What is one permission slip you want to add to this list to help you love and care for yourself more?
Share below. Inspire your sisters!

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