COVID-19 Permission Slips

by Julie Boll  - March 18, 2020

Personal permission slips have been in my mental health and courage-boosting toolkit for just over six months. Permission slips are a tool for intention setting I learned about from Dr. Brené Brown and her Dare to Lead™ program. Permission slips are described in the Dare to Lead™ curriculum as, “A practical and familiar way to think about what might get in the way of us talking about how we feel, asking for what we need, or trying something new.”

It seems ridiculous to give myself permission for things I know rationally are true, but I can tell you from experience- it helps. For those of you waging an internal battle daily over what you should or shouldn’t be feeling, or should or shouldn’t be doing- feel free to borrow a few of my COVID-19 permission slips. 


  1. I give myself permission to be scared.
  2. I give myself permission to feel joy and happiness.
  3. I give myself permission to take mental health breaks. A half hour outside walking or holed up in the bedroom is allowed any time of day.
  4. I give myself permission to only check the news once a day.
  5. I give myself permission to be less productive than usual, to be unfocused and indecisive. 
  6. I give myself permission to “just” be a mom and set aside work and guilt to be with my children.
  7. I give myself permission to take this unexpected time to tackle long neglected projects around the house.
  8. I give myself permission to hold standards and expectations for my children even in the midst of confusion, boredom and grief. 
  9. I give myself permission to enjoy the unexpected gifts borne of close contact with my family and fewer commitments. 
  10. I give myself permission to continue with normal business development even in the midst of extreme uncertainty. 

For now, I’m tucked away at home with my three children.  They vacillate from being the loves of my life and the bane of my existence.  I am working from home as I have been for the past two years as a self-employed consultant and my husband is reporting to work at City Hall, which just recently closed its doors to the public.  We are watching the rapid spread of the virus across the country, but no cases have been identified yet in our small, rural community. I am alternating between play, work, and home improvement projects.  I aspire to lead engaged learning sessions with my children, but we are not quite there yet. Ok, we aren’t even close, but technically this week is our spring break and I’m giving myself a pass. 

Be kind to yourself, friends.  If you can’t give yourself permission, please allow me to absolve you of your guilt.  There is no rulebook on how to behave during a global pandemic. This is a new frontier and we are all human. If When you falter, remember you can always circle back and make amends. 

Julie is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator, trained by thought-leader Dr. Brené Brown in March 2019.  Based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown, Dare to Lead™ is an empirically based courage-building program. Brené is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation – Brené Brown Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy, and most recently completed a seven-year study on courageous leadership. She is the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, and Dare to Lead, which also debuted at #1 on The Wall Street Journal and Publisher’s Weekly list.

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My COVID-19 SFD is just one sentence long: My business will fail.
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