When is the last time that you did something, anything, without having a good reason to do it? By that I mean, when did you do something “just because,”.
For people, I think especially for women (and specifically moms), the need to be PRODUCTIVE can be overwhelming.
So, even as Mother’s Day approaches, the idea of “taking the day off” seems so unrealistic that it’s almost laughable.
And as a result of this outcome-oriented mentality, it can be difficult to truly “relax” even when we are gifted with a spa day, a manicure, or even a solo trip to Target.
That’s how I typically feel if I spend the whole morning reading a book instead of folding laundry.
Or, sometimes I have a desire to do something new - maybe it’s a class, a social event, or some other self-care- type activity and I might stop and think that my time would be better spent doing something that has more tangible results. “I need to clean out that closet," or I probably should focus on getting some work done,” are the thoughts that run through my head.
Now, you may be the type of person (like my husband) who does not struggle with this at all. He is not lazy, but he knows how to relax. He doesn’t feel guilty about it. And I as much I want this laissez-faire mentality to rub off on me, it does not come naturally!
If you are one of these people, grab a high-strung friend and take them to brunch. Or for a manicure. Or just invite them to come over for a couple of hours and watch TV.
But, if you have a personality that is more like mine -one that has more difficulty explaining WHY I need to spend the whole morning just reading a book instead of folding laundry. One that feels like a justification to relax is expected (it’s totally self-imposed, btw).
Well then, I am going to give you a strategy to enjoy your Mother’s Day (and beyond). It’s something that I learned from reading, listening, and watching everything I possibly can from Brene Brown. (Side note: if you haven’t watched her Netflix special, that is now on your self-care to-do list!)
This particular lesson is about permission slips and comes up often in her work and speeches. Basically, the question is:
Brené Brown says, "I wrote my first permission slip on a Post-It note the morning I met Oprah Winfrey for the first time and taped an episode of Super Soul Sunday. It said, ‘Permission to be excited, have fun, and be goofy,' ".
She’s the ultimate story-teller, so trust me, it is worth your two minutes to listen to her talk about it here:
But, permission slips are a really powerful strategy.
I have started using the language AND the technique and for me, at least, it really does work wonders!
In this case, I am giving myself permission to do things without being worried about the outcome, product, or justification for doing it.
Permission to read instead of doing housework; to buy plants that I know I will kill in a month. Permission to not stress about the outcome.
Now, she goes way deeper than just permission to get a manicure.
I have found Brene Brown’s permission slips to be so helpful. Because, the thinking part of my brain knows that I don’t need permission from my husband, or my kids, or my boss to take care of myself. The things that stop me from doing what I need to be creative, inspired, or otherwise “uncool” (as Brene said in the video above) are things that I may not feel worthy of. The things that I have not given myself permission to do.
So, while it is wonderful to get gifts from others. Consider giving yourself permission to do something that you have wanted to do. Or permission to feel the way you need to feel.
And maybe take Brene Brown’s advice and wear pants with pockets (or a jean jacket) so you can keep your written permission slip with you as a reminder.
Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org
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